Collection MS 1038 - Journal on board the whaling ship Massachusetts

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AU PMB MS 1038


Journal on board the whaling ship Massachusetts


  • 1836 - 1840 (Creation)

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1 reel; 35mm microfilm

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James Warden Brett (1815-1846) was born in Kent, England and was entered on the books of the MASSACHUSETTS as the harpooner of the larboard whaleboat. Brett was twenty-one years old when he began his journal and the voyage which was to last for three and a half years. He died in Bombay, at the age of thirty-one, while captain of the ship WEST INDIAN. In the latter half of the 19th century the journal narrowly escaped being buried or burnt during a clearing out by the Widow Brett of Raymond Terrace. A family friend retrieved the journal which he later presented to Mr Percy Thomas, grand nephew of James Brett, in July 1893. The journal also suffered considerable damage during the Maitland flood of 1954. As a result some pages are missing and others are almost illegible.

The journal begins on Wednesday 7 December, 1836, when the ship sailed from New Bedford, Massachusetts on a whaling voyage to the South Seas under Captain George F. Brown. Brett describes in great detail the activities of a harpooner, life on board a whaling ship in general, the many other ships they spoke and all the events experienced during their landfalls and their time at sea. The journal ends on Sunday 19 July, 1840. The voyage included the Peruvian coast, Galapagos Islands, Hawaiian Islands, Guadaloupe, the Mexican coast, Juan Fernandes, Massafeuro, Quiraquina and Talcahuano Bay.

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This material is made available for information and research purposes only. No reproduction of this microfilm or of copies from it may be made for publication without the consent of Mr J.H. Lewis-Hughes, with whom copyright remains.

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Mr J.H. Lewis-Hughes, 2 Norfolk Street, KILLARA NSW 2071

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