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William Scoresby, Senior (1760 - 1829)


  Few names in the history of Arctic exploration are so well known as that of Captain William Scoresby.

Born on the 3rd May 1760 on a small farmstead called Nutholm in Cropton, just 20 miles from Whitby. After a brief attendance at the village School, at the age of 9 Scoresby was employed on his father's (also called William Scoresby) farm.

Some 20 years later in the winter of 1779/80 Scoresby sailed as apprentice to John Chapman, a Quaker ship owner from Whitby, on the ship 'Jane'. The 'Jane' was engaged in the Baltic trade in the summer seasons and in winter was docked in Whitby Harbour.

Having obtained numerous books Scoresby started studying navigation in his spare time and as a result in 1781 was able to recognise the dangerous position off a Baltic Island and saved the ship from foundering.

As other ship mates made life for Scoresby unpleasant he signed on with the ship the 'Speedwell' carrying stores to Gibraltar. The first voyage was ill-fated and resulted in Scoresby being taken prisoner by the Spanish but he escaped and returned home to Cropton as a stow away.

Scoresby was happy to work at his father's home for the next couple of years and during this time he met and married Lady Mary, so named this because she was born on Lady Day. In 1785 Scoresby returned to sea on one of the Whitby ships 'Henrietta' involved in the Greenland Whale Fishery.

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