I Saw Three Ships…

A distillation of what I’ve learnt regarding these three ships:

Jessie 3393 Inverness 1850 31 tons
Ports of Registry
Inverness MNL 1857
Inverness Sail 31 tons 1860 (MNL)
Stornoway Sail Sloop 1880 (MNL)
AJK 1876-1897(?) 21 years
Crew Agreements 1864, 1867-1897, some missing (MNL)
The Belfast News-Letter
Thursday, August 31st, 1876 – The Jessie, Kerr, from Stornoway
Monday, August 15th, 1881 – The Jessie, Kerr, from Stornoway

Update: I have just received a copy of Robert Simper’s ‘Scottish Sail – A Forgotten Era’ and on p33 is a photograph from the late 1880s:
“In the centre are the trading smacks Advance and Jessie of Stornoway. The 30 ton Jessie was built at Fraserburgh in 1850…”
The image is far from clear but here I have a picture of one of Alexander John Kerr’s ships taken at the time that he owned her. I am, as will be appreciated, somewhat ecstatic at this discovery!

Crest 44427 Douglas 1862 Sail Ketch (Lloyds) 47 tons
Ports of Registry
Douglas 1862
Crew Lists 1863-1873 (MNHL)
Castletown Sail Smack 1880 (MNL)
AJK 1896-1903 (Wreck) 7 years
Crew Agreements 1867, 1886-1903 (MNL) (1897-1899 purchased)
The Belfast News-Letter
Tuesday, February 16th 1897 – The Crest, Kerr, from Stornoway
Wednesday, January 25th 1899 – The Crest, Kerr, from Stornoway

Lady Louisa Kerr 12163 Belfast 1846 Sail 49 tons
Ports of Registry
Belfast 1857 (MNL)
Belfast Sail 48 tons 1860 (MNL)
AJK 1903(?)-1914(?) 11 years
Crew Agreements 1864-1914, only 7 years (MNL), (1863, 68/9 @ PRO NI)

What strikes me the most is not that these three ships cover at least 39 years of seafaring in the life of one man, but that they served men at sea for 47, 41 and 68 years respectively.

That is an average of 52 years per vessel…

…and all achieved with wood, hemp, cotton and wind.


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