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The Alert of Peterhead

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  • maymyo25
    Please does anyone have any information or know where I can find out about the tragedy that happened to the whaler, the Alert of Peterhead in 1861. The
    Message 1 of 10 , Feb 25, 2008
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      Please does anyone have any information or know where I can find out
      about the tragedy that happened to the whaler, the Alert of Peterhead
      in 1861. The shipmaster, John Walker was married to Isabella Robertson.
      I think that half the crew died, and I wonder if there is a memorial to
      them?

      Liz Robertson
    • Alison Kennedy
      Hi Liz, The following article should help you somewhat: The Aberdeen Journal, Wednesday, October 9, 1861 THE ALERT OF PETERHEAD - SUFFERINGS OF THE CREW -
      Message 2 of 10 , Feb 25, 2008
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        Hi Liz,

        The following article should help you somewhat:

        The Aberdeen Journal, Wednesday, October 9, 1861


        THE "ALERT" OF PETERHEAD - SUFFERINGS OF THE CREW - The Sentinel says that a number of rumours are flying about town with reference to the conduct at the ice of Mr Forbes Milne, the nominal captain of the vessel - charges of cruelty, &c, being flatly and broadly brought against him, with what amount of authority or truthfulness it is impossible for us to say. However, the greater part of the complications in the melancholy matter seem to have arisen from the fact of his having been placed on board of the vessel as actual and practical Captain, while he neither appeared in the books of the Custom House in that capacity, nor possessed a certificate entitling him to hold that office. With regard to the charges brought against Mr Milne by the crew, we forbear alluding to them until the matter be properly and fully investigated by the authorities. The Alert left Peterhead for the Straits on the 18th May, 1860, and sighted the ice on June 8. On July 27, a boat was capsized following a fish, and two of the crew, Burnett and Mitchell, were never seen after being pitched out of the boat. On August 12, five boats chased and kept in a number of white whales on a shoal till the tide receded. 111 of them were killed. On October 25, a number of the men were ill, and only a boat's crew out of the whole ship's company were able to "flinch" a fish that was caught, which could not be done for a few days in consequence of the severity of the weather. On November 3, the Alert bore up for home with a northerly wind, but after several endeavours, could not get out of the Gulf. On the 25th she was driven up into a bay about 20 miles equi-distant from Niatlik and New Boyes stations. At this place she wintered. Serious misunderstandings are said to have taken place between Mr Milne and the crew on the score of provisions &c. Between the 11th November, 1860, and 31st July 1861, other eight men died. Fuel ran short, and proper food, even when it could be had, could not be properly cooked. Sometimes a couple of days' allowance of beef would be served out, and then for some weeks no more would be allowed. The crew had little or any sugar (so essential in these regions) for the whole of this time. The bread got done, and flour and Indian meal (got from the American ships) was served out as food; but in consequence of the scarcity of fuel, it could not be rendered properly available. For some time a number of the crew left the ship, existing by what they could get at the stations and from other ships. Seals flesh, whale skins, blubber, &c., had to be eaten on board the ship. Mr Milne, however, remained all along in the vessel - for some time alone, with the exception of a couple of boys, the rest of the crew being taken away by Captain Simpson of the "Union," and Mr Thompson, manager of the Aberdeen Artic Company at Kickarton, as they were all dangerously ill at the time. The most deaths occurred in the commencement of the thaw, the cases being scurvy, exhaustion, and exposure to the weather - none of the crew being prepared with the necessary clothing or anything else for an Artic winter. On the 23d August of this year, when the "Alert" was preparing to proceed home, on the representation of the crew, and investigation into the differences between Mr Milne and them was held on board the "Artic" of Aberdeen - Captain Reid of the "Artic," Captain Simpson of the "Union," and Captain Mackinnon of the "Alibi," acting as judges in the matter. The result of their deliberations was that they decided on displacing Mr Forbes Milne from his post as Captain, filling his place by Mr Taylor the mate. Mr Robertson of the "Alibi" was then obtained to act as mate. Matters now went on more smoothly, and a full supply of provisions having been obtained from the depots of the Aberdeen Artic Company, the vessel bore up for home immediately, and arrived here on Tuesday forenoon (as stated in our last). The names of the men dead are - John Mitchell, New Deer, and William Bennett, Strichen, drowned by the upsetting of a boat, 27th July 1860; John Walker, Peterhead, 11th November 1860; John McKenzie, Portknockie, 13th December 1860; William McKenzie, Peterhead, 24th April 1861; Peter Campbell, Sutherlandshire, 30th May; Alex. Pickard, Longside, 3d June; Robert Milne, carpenter, Peterhead, 25th June; William Nicol, Peterhead, 31st July. The "Alert" brings intelligence of the loss of the "Union" of this port. She sank at her station in the month of May, but her cargo, amounting to some 25 or 30 tons of oil, and her casks, do, have been saved. Her men were living at their station-houses, and were all saved.



        Alison





        ----- Original Message -----
        From: maymyo25
        To: Peterhead@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Monday, February 25, 2008 4:02 PM
        Subject: [Peterhead] The Alert of Peterhead


        Please does anyone have any information or know where I can find out
        about the tragedy that happened to the whaler, the Alert of Peterhead
        in 1861. The shipmaster, John Walker was married to Isabella Robertson.
        I think that half the crew died, and I wonder if there is a memorial to
        them?

        Liz Robertson





        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • maymyo25
        Alison, I knew there must be a story behind it as soon as I found the death record of John Walker in the marine register. He died of extreme debility produced
        Message 3 of 10 , Feb 25, 2008
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          Alison,

          I knew there must be a story behind it as soon as I found the death
          record of John Walker in the marine register. He died of extreme
          debility produced by cold. Out of curiosity I turned to the next page
          and it showed that three young men, ages 17, 27 and 22 died of
          frostbite and scurvy caused by insufficient food both inadequate in
          quantity and quality. Two other young men ages 17 and 28 drowned by
          upsetting of a boat when engaged in whale fishing. One page with
          three deaths is unavailable online but another young man age 27 is
          shown as having died of rheumatism and scurvy.

          They were away from home a long time and I cannot begin to imagine
          the despair and anguish of their relatives that they suffered such a
          horrible death. I do wonder what the outcome of any investigation
          was. I also wonder what the normal routine was for a ship involved in
          whaling. It would seem that this crew was short not only of food but
          of adequate clothing and fuel. Is the Aberdeen Journal available
          online? I live in Gloucestershire so I am not able search in Aberdeen.

          Many thanks for your reply,
          Liz




          --- In Peterhead@yahoogroups.com, "Alison Kennedy"
          <alison2kennedy@...> wrote:
          >
          > Hi Liz,
          >
          > The following article should help you somewhat:
          >
          > The Aberdeen Journal, Wednesday, October 9, 1861
          >
          >
          > THE "ALERT" OF PETERHEAD - SUFFERINGS OF THE CREW - The Sentinel
          says that a number of rumours are flying about town with reference to
          the conduct at the ice of Mr Forbes Milne, the nominal captain of the
          vessel - charges of cruelty, &c, being flatly and broadly brought
          against him, with what amount of authority or truthfulness it is
          impossible for us to say. However, the greater part of the
          complications in the melancholy matter seem to have arisen from the
          fact of his having been placed on board of the vessel as actual and
          practical Captain, while he neither appeared in the books of the
          Custom House in that capacity, nor possessed a certificate entitling
          him to hold that office. With regard to the charges brought against
          Mr Milne by the crew, we forbear alluding to them until the matter be
          properly and fully investigated by the authorities. The Alert left
          Peterhead for the Straits on the 18th May, 1860, and sighted the ice
          on June 8. On July 27, a boat was capsized following a fish, and two
          of the crew, Burnett and Mitchell, were never seen after being
          pitched out of the boat. On August 12, five boats chased and kept in
          a number of white whales on a shoal till the tide receded. 111 of
          them were killed. On October 25, a number of the men were ill, and
          only a boat's crew out of the whole ship's company were able
          to "flinch" a fish that was caught, which could not be done for a few
          days in consequence of the severity of the weather. On November 3,
          the Alert bore up for home with a northerly wind, but after several
          endeavours, could not get out of the Gulf. On the 25th she was
          driven up into a bay about 20 miles equi-distant from Niatlik and New
          Boyes stations. At this place she wintered. Serious
          misunderstandings are said to have taken place between Mr Milne and
          the crew on the score of provisions &c. Between the 11th November,
          1860, and 31st July 1861, other eight men died. Fuel ran short, and
          proper food, even when it could be had, could not be properly
          cooked. Sometimes a couple of days' allowance of beef would be
          served out, and then for some weeks no more would be allowed. The
          crew had little or any sugar (so essential in these regions) for the
          whole of this time. The bread got done, and flour and Indian meal
          (got from the American ships) was served out as food; but in
          consequence of the scarcity of fuel, it could not be rendered
          properly available. For some time a number of the crew left the
          ship, existing by what they could get at the stations and from other
          ships. Seals flesh, whale skins, blubber, &c., had to be eaten on
          board the ship. Mr Milne, however, remained all along in the vessel -
          for some time alone, with the exception of a couple of boys, the
          rest of the crew being taken away by Captain Simpson of the "Union,"
          and Mr Thompson, manager of the Aberdeen Artic Company at Kickarton,
          as they were all dangerously ill at the time. The most deaths
          occurred in the commencement of the thaw, the cases being scurvy,
          exhaustion, and exposure to the weather - none of the crew being
          prepared with the necessary clothing or anything else for an Artic
          winter. On the 23d August of this year, when the "Alert" was
          preparing to proceed home, on the representation of the crew, and
          investigation into the differences between Mr Milne and them was held
          on board the "Artic" of Aberdeen - Captain Reid of the "Artic,"
          Captain Simpson of the "Union," and Captain Mackinnon of the "Alibi,"
          acting as judges in the matter. The result of their deliberations
          was that they decided on displacing Mr Forbes Milne from his post as
          Captain, filling his place by Mr Taylor the mate. Mr Robertson of
          the "Alibi" was then obtained to act as mate. Matters now went on
          more smoothly, and a full supply of provisions having been obtained
          from the depots of the Aberdeen Artic Company, the vessel bore up for
          home immediately, and arrived here on Tuesday forenoon (as stated in
          our last). The names of the men dead are - John Mitchell, New Deer,
          and William Bennett, Strichen, drowned by the upsetting of a boat,
          27th July 1860; John Walker, Peterhead, 11th November 1860; John
          McKenzie, Portknockie, 13th December 1860; William McKenzie,
          Peterhead, 24th April 1861; Peter Campbell, Sutherlandshire, 30th
          May; Alex. Pickard, Longside, 3d June; Robert Milne, carpenter,
          Peterhead, 25th June; William Nicol, Peterhead, 31st July.
          The "Alert" brings intelligence of the loss of the "Union" of this
          port. She sank at her station in the month of May, but her cargo,
          amounting to some 25 or 30 tons of oil, and her casks, do, have been
          saved. Her men were living at their station-houses, and were all
          saved.
          >
          >
          >
          > Alison
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > ----- Original Message -----
          > From: maymyo25
          > To: Peterhead@yahoogroups.com
          > Sent: Monday, February 25, 2008 4:02 PM
          > Subject: [Peterhead] The Alert of Peterhead
          >
          >
          > Please does anyone have any information or know where I can find
          out
          > about the tragedy that happened to the whaler, the Alert of
          Peterhead
          > in 1861. The shipmaster, John Walker was married to Isabella
          Robertson.
          > I think that half the crew died, and I wonder if there is a
          memorial to
          > them?
          >
          > Liz Robertson
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
        • Mary Barnes
          Alison, Thank you very much indeed for the article from the Aberdeen Journal about the Alert of Peterhead. One of my ancestors, William Nicol, was among those
          Message 4 of 10 , Feb 25, 2008
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            Alison,
            Thank you very much indeed for the article from the Aberdeen Journal
            about the Alert of Peterhead. One of my ancestors, William Nicol, was
            among those who died on that expedition, and it's great to have some
            more information. William died of rheumatism and scurvy at Kekerten
            Island in the Cumberland Sound. His death was entered in the Marine
            Register and later transcribed into the Peterhead register.

            It would seem that the Alert had not planned to spend the winter in
            the Arctic, which might explain the lack of appropriate clothing and
            adequate provisions. There must be more about the investigation of
            these events in local newspapers. I plan to spend some time in
            Peterhead later this year (in the autumn), and will have a look, if
            nobody else has done so before that. What puzzles me is, if John
            Walker was the Ship Master, how did it come about that Forbes Milne is
            described as "nominal captain" and later in the article as "actual and
            practical captain". I note that John Walker died on 11November 1860,
            and, except for the two who drowned when a boat capsized, all the
            other deaths came after that. I wonder if Forbes Milne took over
            command of the vessel after the death of John Walker? There was a
            Forbes Milne born in Peterhead in 1830. Could this be the one? If so,
            he was the brother of William Nicol's wife Helen.

            Kekerten Island is referred to in the article as "Kickarton". It was
            the location of a Scottish whaling station in the 1850s and 1860s. The
            site is now part of a Canadian Historic Site and National Park. Anyone
            interested can find more about Kekerten Island by Googling it. There
            is a photo of the whaling station at:
            http://www.pangnirtunghotel.com/pangnirtung-hikes-cumberland-sound.htm

            Liz, you asked about a memorial - I'm wondering if a memorial booklet
            was produced to the seamen who died on the Alert? I have a copy of a
            document, a single page, source unknown, with a farewell letter from
            William Nicol to his wife Helen, and a memorial to William. My cousin
            found it among papers belonging to his father (who was also a seaman).
            It is typeset, so presumably came from a published book or pamphlet,
            and it's very touching. Here is the text:
            �Alert�, 1st June 1861.
            My Dear Helen,
            I write you these few lines to let you know in what state I
            penned these few lines. I was taken badly with rheumatism in the fall
            of the last year, and I recovered, but, in a short time after, about
            the New Year, it again relapsed, and up to this time I have been bed-
            fast, and I feel that I am getting very rapidly worse, which is the
            reason of me writing this letter to let you know in what state this
            leaves me. I do not expect to survive many days from this date. But,
            my dear, dear Helen, give your heart entirely unto the Lord, and then
            I shall expect to see you in Heaven; for I have tried as much as I
            could, since I have been afflicted, to walk in all His statutes and
            commandments, for I have found peace with God, and am this moment
            relying on His mercy, so I shall expect to meet you in Heaven; and my
            dear, darling children�Matthew, William, Francis, and the other of
            which I know not the name, as far as your ability goes, bring them up
            in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, so that they may not wander
            so long as we have done �Strangers to His saving grace.� Oh! my
            darling, darling Helen�the only woman ever I have loved on earth, the
            dear and faithful partner of my bosom. I now bid you goodbye; so
            farewell for a time, and I shall expect to meet you in Heaven. God
            bless you and protect you, and may He, in your experience, prove a
            husband to the widow and a father to the fatherless. So farewell! My
            darling Wife and Children. I am too weak now to say any more; so
            farewell! My dear, darling, faithful partner. I shall meet you in
            Heaven. Good-bye!�From your affectionate Husband,
            WILLIAM NICOL,
            With a Sore Heart.


            In Memory of
            WILLIAM NICOL
            Late Seaman on Board the "Alert"
            WHO DIED ON SHORE, JULY 31 1861
            AGED 28 YEARS.

            Farewell! for all my sufferings are,
            And all my sorrows gone;
            I go to live upon the shore
            Where Christ shall be my home.
            Mary Barnes






            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • maymyo25
            Mary, Thank you very much for sharing the letter from William to his wife. It is sad beyond bearable. Any enquiry must have been reported at the time, and when
            Message 5 of 10 , Feb 26, 2008
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              Mary,

              Thank you very much for sharing the letter from William to his wife. It
              is sad beyond bearable.

              Any enquiry must have been reported at the time, and when you do go to
              Peterhead, I would be very interested in anything that you find. The
              more I find out about this tragedy the more puzzling it becomes.

              I have tabled the events from the articles and death records and the
              reading of them only begs more questions which I am sure, given the
              nature of the tragedy, must have been answered at the time. I can only
              think that by the turn of the year, so many crew were ill that it was
              impossible to sail for home. I know very little about whaling ships and
              their crews so cannot understand what went wrong.

              I have found another report in Google Book written in February 1862

              The Eclectic Magazine - By John Holmes Agnew, Walter Hilliard Bidwell

              Ten Men Starved to Death in to Arctic Regions

              The whaler Alert arrived at Peterhead on Tuesday, from Cumberland
              Straits, where she was frozen in the whole of last winter, the crew
              having suffered great privations, and one half of them died from cold
              and scurvy. The Alert left Peterhead last summer, not intending to
              winter in the north; but after several unsuccessful attempts to get out
              of the Gulf, was obliged to put back and bear up for Kitterton Island.
              Here the sufferings of the crew during a long Arctic winter were such as
              cannot be described. Unexpectedly detained in that dark and desolate
              region, and unprovided with the comforts necessary for subsistence in
              the intense frost which prevailed, one after another the crew succumbed
              to the combined effects of the cold and scurvy, until the half of the
              crew (ten) were dead, leaving only other ten, much enfeebled by disease.
              The horrors of such a winter may be conceived, as well as the emotions
              with which the survivors would hail the appearance of this year's
              ships. Quite unable to bring the vessel home themselves, the captains
              of the Alibi and Arctic of Aberdeen, generously sent two boats'
              crews on board of the Alert to assist the remainder of her crew, and
              she arrived, as we have stated, at Peterhead on Tuesday, where her
              arrival with such melancholy news has overspread the town with the
              deepest gloom, all the crew belonging to that port.


              1860



              May 18th

              The Alert leaves Peterhead

              June 8th

              Sighted ice

              July 27th

              Boat capsized

              "

              William Burnett. 28 drowned

              "

              John Mitchell, 17 drowned

              August 12th

              Hunting and killing whales

              October 25th

              A number of men ill

              November 3rd

              Set for home but defeated by the weather

              November 11th

              John Walker, Shipmaster, 66 died of extreme debility caused by cold

              November 25th

              Driven into a bay

              December 13th

              John McKenzie, 63 died

              1861



              April 24th

              William McKenzie, 18 died

              May 30th

              Peter Campbell, 21 died

              June 3rd

              Alex Pickard, 17 died of frostbite and scurvy caused by inadequate food
              both in quantity and quality

              June 5th

              Robert Milne, 27 died of frostbite and scurvy caused by inadequate food
              both in quantity and quality

              June 27th

              Alexander Ross, 22 died of scurvy caused by inadequate food both in
              quantity and quality

              July 31st

              William Nicol, 27 died of rheumatism and scurvy

              August 23rd

              Investigation held into differences between Mr. Milne and crew. Mr.
              Milne displaced. Mr. James Taylor, Mate, now acting Master.

              October 1st

              Arrived Peterhead





























































































              Liz Robertson.



              --- In Peterhead@yahoogroups.com, Mary Barnes <marysb@...> wrote:
              >
              > Alison,
              > Thank you very much indeed for the article from the Aberdeen Journal
              > about the Alert of Peterhead. One of my ancestors, William Nicol, was
              > among those who died on that expedition, and it's great to have some
              > more information. William died of rheumatism and scurvy at Kekerten
              > Island in the Cumberland Sound. His death was entered in the Marine
              > Register and later transcribed into the Peterhead register.
              >
              > It would seem that the Alert had not planned to spend the winter in
              > the Arctic, which might explain the lack of appropriate clothing and
              > adequate provisions. There must be more about the investigation of
              > these events in local newspapers. I plan to spend some time in
              > Peterhead later this year (in the autumn), and will have a look, if
              > nobody else has done so before that. What puzzles me is, if John
              > Walker was the Ship Master, how did it come about that Forbes Milne is
              > described as "nominal captain" and later in the article as "actual and
              > practical captain". I note that John Walker died on 11November 1860,
              > and, except for the two who drowned when a boat capsized, all the
              > other deaths came after that. I wonder if Forbes Milne took over
              > command of the vessel after the death of John Walker? There was a
              > Forbes Milne born in Peterhead in 1830. Could this be the one? If so,
              > he was the brother of William Nicol's wife Helen.
              >
              > Kekerten Island is referred to in the article as "Kickarton". It was
              > the location of a Scottish whaling station in the 1850s and 1860s. The
              > site is now part of a Canadian Historic Site and National Park. Anyone
              > interested can find more about Kekerten Island by Googling it. There
              > is a photo of the whaling station at:
              > http://www.pangnirtunghotel.com/pangnirtung-hikes-cumberland-sound.htm
              >
              > Liz, you asked about a memorial - I'm wondering if a memorial booklet
              > was produced to the seamen who died on the Alert? I have a copy of a
              > document, a single page, source unknown, with a farewell letter from
              > William Nicol to his wife Helen, and a memorial to William. My cousin
              > found it among papers belonging to his father (who was also a seaman).
              > It is typeset, so presumably came from a published book or pamphlet,
              > and it's very touching. Here is the text:
              > "Alert", 1st June 1861.
              > My Dear Helen,
              > I write you these few lines to let you know in what state I
              > penned these few lines. I was taken badly with rheumatism in the fall
              > of the last year, and I recovered, but, in a short time after, about
              > the New Year, it again relapsed, and up to this time I have been bed-
              > fast, and I feel that I am getting very rapidly worse, which is the
              > reason of me writing this letter to let you know in what state this
              > leaves me. I do not expect to survive many days from this date. But,
              > my dear, dear Helen, give your heart entirely unto the Lord, and then
              > I shall expect to see you in Heaven; for I have tried as much as I
              > could, since I have been afflicted, to walk in all His statutes and
              > commandments, for I have found peace with God, and am this moment
              > relying on His mercy, so I shall expect to meet you in Heaven; and my
              > dear, darling children—Matthew, William, Francis, and the other of
              > which I know not the name, as far as your ability goes, bring them up
              > in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, so that they may not wander
              > so long as we have done "Strangers to His saving grace." Oh!
              my
              > darling, darling Helen—the only woman ever I have loved on earth,
              the
              > dear and faithful partner of my bosom. I now bid you goodbye; so
              > farewell for a time, and I shall expect to meet you in Heaven. God
              > bless you and protect you, and may He, in your experience, prove a
              > husband to the widow and a father to the fatherless. So farewell! My
              > darling Wife and Children. I am too weak now to say any more; so
              > farewell! My dear, darling, faithful partner. I shall meet you in
              > Heaven. Good-bye!—From your affectionate Husband,
              > WILLIAM NICOL,
              > With a Sore Heart.
              >
              >
              > In Memory of
              > WILLIAM NICOL
              > Late Seaman on Board the "Alert"
              > WHO DIED ON SHORE, JULY 31 1861
              > AGED 28 YEARS.
              >
              > Farewell! for all my sufferings are,
              > And all my sorrows gone;
              > I go to live upon the shore
              > Where Christ shall be my home.
              > Mary Barnes
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >




              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • maymyo25
              I have just realised that the table I sent didnt travel very well and some of the information has dissapeared so I am trying again - Liz - 1860 May 18th The
              Message 6 of 10 , Feb 26, 2008
              • 0 Attachment
                I have just realised that the table I sent didnt travel very well and
                some of the information has dissapeared so I am trying again - Liz
                -
                1860



                May 18th

                The Alert leaves Peterhead

                June 8th

                Sighted ice

                July 27th

                Boat capsized

                "

                William Burnett. 28 drowned

                "

                John Mitchell, 17 drowned

                August 12th

                Hunting and killing whales

                October 25th

                A number of men ill

                November 3rd

                Set for home but defeated by the weather

                November 11th

                John Walker, 66 died of extreme debility caused by cold

                November 25th

                Driven into a bay

                December 13th

                John McKenzie, 63 died

                1861



                April 24th

                William McKenzie, 18 died

                May 30th

                Peter Campbell, 21 died

                June 3rd

                Alex Pickard, 17 died of frostbite and scurvy caused by inadequate food
                both in quantity and quality

                June 5th

                Robert Milne, 27 died of frostbite and scurvy caused by inadequate food
                both in quantity and quality

                June 27th

                Alexander Ross, 22 died of scurvy caused by inadequate food both in
                quantity and quality

                July 31st

                William Nicol, 27 died of rheumatism and scurvy

                August 23rd

                Investigation held into differences between Mr. Milne and crew. Mr.
                Milne displaced. Mr. James Taylor, Mate, now acting Master.

                October

                Arrived Peterhead


















































                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • maymyo25
                I have put the table in Files as I cannot get it to go correctly in a messageeven in Rich Text. Sorry about that. Liz ... and ... food ... food
                Message 7 of 10 , Feb 26, 2008
                • 0 Attachment
                  I have put the table in Files as I cannot get it to go correctly in a
                  messageeven in Rich Text. Sorry about that. Liz


                  --- In Peterhead@yahoogroups.com, "maymyo25" <lizfor@...> wrote:
                  >
                  >
                  > I have just realised that the table I sent didnt travel very well
                  and
                  > some of the information has dissapeared so I am trying again - Liz
                  > -
                  > 1860
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > May 18th
                  >
                  > The Alert leaves Peterhead
                  >
                  > June 8th
                  >
                  > Sighted ice
                  >
                  > July 27th
                  >
                  > Boat capsized
                  >
                  > "
                  >
                  > William Burnett. 28 drowned
                  >
                  > "
                  >
                  > John Mitchell, 17 drowned
                  >
                  > August 12th
                  >
                  > Hunting and killing whales
                  >
                  > October 25th
                  >
                  > A number of men ill
                  >
                  > November 3rd
                  >
                  > Set for home but defeated by the weather
                  >
                  > November 11th
                  >
                  > John Walker, 66 died of extreme debility caused by cold
                  >
                  > November 25th
                  >
                  > Driven into a bay
                  >
                  > December 13th
                  >
                  > John McKenzie, 63 died
                  >
                  > 1861
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > April 24th
                  >
                  > William McKenzie, 18 died
                  >
                  > May 30th
                  >
                  > Peter Campbell, 21 died
                  >
                  > June 3rd
                  >
                  > Alex Pickard, 17 died of frostbite and scurvy caused by inadequate
                  food
                  > both in quantity and quality
                  >
                  > June 5th
                  >
                  > Robert Milne, 27 died of frostbite and scurvy caused by inadequate
                  food
                  > both in quantity and quality
                  >
                  > June 27th
                  >
                  > Alexander Ross, 22 died of scurvy caused by inadequate food both in
                  > quantity and quality
                  >
                  > July 31st
                  >
                  > William Nicol, 27 died of rheumatism and scurvy
                  >
                  > August 23rd
                  >
                  > Investigation held into differences between Mr. Milne and crew. Mr.
                  > Milne displaced. Mr. James Taylor, Mate, now acting Master.
                  >
                  > October
                  >
                  > Arrived Peterhead
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  >
                • Alison Kennedy
                  Hi Liz, Thank you for your e-mail. I m glad the information was of some interest to you. Unfortunately the newspapers for Aberdeen (which commenced in 1747) &
                  Message 8 of 10 , Feb 26, 2008
                  • 0 Attachment
                    Hi Liz,

                    Thank you for your e-mail. I'm glad the information was of some interest to you.

                    Unfortunately the newspapers for Aberdeen (which commenced in 1747) & Peterhead (commenced 1863) are not available online. Microfilm for the newspapers is accessible through libraries in either place.

                    I believe that whaling trips usually lasted about 9 months - a year, unless the boat got caught in ice when it would have lasted until such time as the boat became free! Conditions would have been very hard.

                    I am not aware of an inquiry for this loss, but I will endeavour to investigate this further. Whilst this may seem harsh, usually an inquiry in these days was only held when a boat was lost, not when men died - the loss of men was an accepted fact - the loss of a boat meant the loss of money - but it sometimes depended on the circumstances. It's also possible that an inquiry may have taken place but not covered by the Aberdeen Journal, 1861 being before the Buchan Observer, who would have been the more likely to cover the story, commenced.

                    Alison


                    ----- Original Message -----
                    From: maymyo25
                    To: Peterhead@yahoogroups.com
                    Sent: Monday, February 25, 2008 10:39 PM
                    Subject: [Peterhead] Re: The Alert of Peterhead


                    Alison,

                    I knew there must be a story behind it as soon as I found the death
                    record of John Walker in the marine register. He died of extreme
                    debility produced by cold. Out of curiosity I turned to the next page
                    and it showed that three young men, ages 17, 27 and 22 died of
                    frostbite and scurvy caused by insufficient food both inadequate in
                    quantity and quality. Two other young men ages 17 and 28 drowned by
                    upsetting of a boat when engaged in whale fishing. One page with
                    three deaths is unavailable online but another young man age 27 is
                    shown as having died of rheumatism and scurvy.

                    They were away from home a long time and I cannot begin to imagine
                    the despair and anguish of their relatives that they suffered such a
                    horrible death. I do wonder what the outcome of any investigation
                    was. I also wonder what the normal routine was for a ship involved in
                    whaling. It would seem that this crew was short not only of food but
                    of adequate clothing and fuel. Is the Aberdeen Journal available
                    online? I live in Gloucestershire so I am not able search in Aberdeen.

                    Many thanks for your reply,
                    Liz

                    --- In Peterhead@yahoogroups.com, "Alison Kennedy"
                    <alison2kennedy@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > Hi Liz,
                    >
                    > The following article should help you somewhat:
                    >
                    > The Aberdeen Journal, Wednesday, October 9, 1861
                    >
                    >
                    > THE "ALERT" OF PETERHEAD - SUFFERINGS OF THE CREW - The Sentinel
                    says that a number of rumours are flying about town with reference to
                    the conduct at the ice of Mr Forbes Milne, the nominal captain of the
                    vessel - charges of cruelty, &c, being flatly and broadly brought
                    against him, with what amount of authority or truthfulness it is
                    impossible for us to say. However, the greater part of the
                    complications in the melancholy matter seem to have arisen from the
                    fact of his having been placed on board of the vessel as actual and
                    practical Captain, while he neither appeared in the books of the
                    Custom House in that capacity, nor possessed a certificate entitling
                    him to hold that office. With regard to the charges brought against
                    Mr Milne by the crew, we forbear alluding to them until the matter be
                    properly and fully investigated by the authorities. The Alert left
                    Peterhead for the Straits on the 18th May, 1860, and sighted the ice
                    on June 8. On July 27, a boat was capsized following a fish, and two
                    of the crew, Burnett and Mitchell, were never seen after being
                    pitched out of the boat. On August 12, five boats chased and kept in
                    a number of white whales on a shoal till the tide receded. 111 of
                    them were killed. On October 25, a number of the men were ill, and
                    only a boat's crew out of the whole ship's company were able
                    to "flinch" a fish that was caught, which could not be done for a few
                    days in consequence of the severity of the weather. On November 3,
                    the Alert bore up for home with a northerly wind, but after several
                    endeavours, could not get out of the Gulf. On the 25th she was
                    driven up into a bay about 20 miles equi-distant from Niatlik and New
                    Boyes stations. At this place she wintered. Serious
                    misunderstandings are said to have taken place between Mr Milne and
                    the crew on the score of provisions &c. Between the 11th November,
                    1860, and 31st July 1861, other eight men died. Fuel ran short, and
                    proper food, even when it could be had, could not be properly
                    cooked. Sometimes a couple of days' allowance of beef would be
                    served out, and then for some weeks no more would be allowed. The
                    crew had little or any sugar (so essential in these regions) for the
                    whole of this time. The bread got done, and flour and Indian meal
                    (got from the American ships) was served out as food; but in
                    consequence of the scarcity of fuel, it could not be rendered
                    properly available. For some time a number of the crew left the
                    ship, existing by what they could get at the stations and from other
                    ships. Seals flesh, whale skins, blubber, &c., had to be eaten on
                    board the ship. Mr Milne, however, remained all along in the vessel -
                    for some time alone, with the exception of a couple of boys, the
                    rest of the crew being taken away by Captain Simpson of the "Union,"
                    and Mr Thompson, manager of the Aberdeen Artic Company at Kickarton,
                    as they were all dangerously ill at the time. The most deaths
                    occurred in the commencement of the thaw, the cases being scurvy,
                    exhaustion, and exposure to the weather - none of the crew being
                    prepared with the necessary clothing or anything else for an Artic
                    winter. On the 23d August of this year, when the "Alert" was
                    preparing to proceed home, on the representation of the crew, and
                    investigation into the differences between Mr Milne and them was held
                    on board the "Artic" of Aberdeen - Captain Reid of the "Artic,"
                    Captain Simpson of the "Union," and Captain Mackinnon of the "Alibi,"
                    acting as judges in the matter. The result of their deliberations
                    was that they decided on displacing Mr Forbes Milne from his post as
                    Captain, filling his place by Mr Taylor the mate. Mr Robertson of
                    the "Alibi" was then obtained to act as mate. Matters now went on
                    more smoothly, and a full supply of provisions having been obtained
                    from the depots of the Aberdeen Artic Company, the vessel bore up for
                    home immediately, and arrived here on Tuesday forenoon (as stated in
                    our last). The names of the men dead are - John Mitchell, New Deer,
                    and William Bennett, Strichen, drowned by the upsetting of a boat,
                    27th July 1860; John Walker, Peterhead, 11th November 1860; John
                    McKenzie, Portknockie, 13th December 1860; William McKenzie,
                    Peterhead, 24th April 1861; Peter Campbell, Sutherlandshire, 30th
                    May; Alex. Pickard, Longside, 3d June; Robert Milne, carpenter,
                    Peterhead, 25th June; William Nicol, Peterhead, 31st July.
                    The "Alert" brings intelligence of the loss of the "Union" of this
                    port. She sank at her station in the month of May, but her cargo,
                    amounting to some 25 or 30 tons of oil, and her casks, do, have been
                    saved. Her men were living at their station-houses, and were all
                    saved.
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > Alison
                    >
                    >
                    > ----- Original Message -----
                    > From: maymyo25
                    > To: Peterhead@yahoogroups.com
                    > Sent: Monday, February 25, 2008 4:02 PM
                    > Subject: [Peterhead] The Alert of Peterhead
                    >
                    >
                    > Please does anyone have any information or know where I can find
                    out
                    > about the tragedy that happened to the whaler, the Alert of
                    Peterhead
                    > in 1861. The shipmaster, John Walker was married to Isabella
                    Robertson.
                    > I think that half the crew died, and I wonder if there is a
                    memorial to
                    > them?
                    >
                    > Liz Robertson

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                  • Alison Kennedy
                    Hi Mary, Thank you for your e-mail. The letter from William Nicol was very touching - romantic even though he knew his days were numbered. Alison ... From:
                    Message 9 of 10 , Feb 26, 2008
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Hi Mary,

                      Thank you for your e-mail. The letter from William Nicol was very touching - romantic even though he knew his days were numbered.

                      Alison

                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: Mary Barnes
                      To: Peterhead@yahoogroups.com
                      Sent: Tuesday, February 26, 2008 6:07 AM
                      Subject: Re: [Peterhead] The Alert of Peterhead


                      Alison,
                      Thank you very much indeed for the article from the Aberdeen Journal
                      about the Alert of Peterhead. One of my ancestors, William Nicol, was
                      among those who died on that expedition, and it's great to have some
                      more information. William died of rheumatism and scurvy at Kekerten
                      Island in the Cumberland Sound. His death was entered in the Marine
                      Register and later transcribed into the Peterhead register.

                      It would seem that the Alert had not planned to spend the winter in
                      the Arctic, which might explain the lack of appropriate clothing and
                      adequate provisions. There must be more about the investigation of
                      these events in local newspapers. I plan to spend some time in
                      Peterhead later this year (in the autumn), and will have a look, if
                      nobody else has done so before that. What puzzles me is, if John
                      Walker was the Ship Master, how did it come about that Forbes Milne is
                      described as "nominal captain" and later in the article as "actual and
                      practical captain". I note that John Walker died on 11November 1860,
                      and, except for the two who drowned when a boat capsized, all the
                      other deaths came after that. I wonder if Forbes Milne took over
                      command of the vessel after the death of John Walker? There was a
                      Forbes Milne born in Peterhead in 1830. Could this be the one? If so,
                      he was the brother of William Nicol's wife Helen.

                      Kekerten Island is referred to in the article as "Kickarton". It was
                      the location of a Scottish whaling station in the 1850s and 1860s. The
                      site is now part of a Canadian Historic Site and National Park. Anyone
                      interested can find more about Kekerten Island by Googling it. There
                      is a photo of the whaling station at:
                      http://www.pangnirtunghotel.com/pangnirtung-hikes-cumberland-sound.htm

                      Liz, you asked about a memorial - I'm wondering if a memorial booklet
                      was produced to the seamen who died on the Alert? I have a copy of a
                      document, a single page, source unknown, with a farewell letter from
                      William Nicol to his wife Helen, and a memorial to William. My cousin
                      found it among papers belonging to his father (who was also a seaman).
                      It is typeset, so presumably came from a published book or pamphlet,
                      and it's very touching. Here is the text:
                      "Alert", 1st June 1861.
                      My Dear Helen,
                      I write you these few lines to let you know in what state I
                      penned these few lines. I was taken badly with rheumatism in the fall
                      of the last year, and I recovered, but, in a short time after, about
                      the New Year, it again relapsed, and up to this time I have been bed-
                      fast, and I feel that I am getting very rapidly worse, which is the
                      reason of me writing this letter to let you know in what state this
                      leaves me. I do not expect to survive many days from this date. But,
                      my dear, dear Helen, give your heart entirely unto the Lord, and then
                      I shall expect to see you in Heaven; for I have tried as much as I
                      could, since I have been afflicted, to walk in all His statutes and
                      commandments, for I have found peace with God, and am this moment
                      relying on His mercy, so I shall expect to meet you in Heaven; and my
                      dear, darling children-Matthew, William, Francis, and the other of
                      which I know not the name, as far as your ability goes, bring them up
                      in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, so that they may not wander
                      so long as we have done "Strangers to His saving grace." Oh! my
                      darling, darling Helen-the only woman ever I have loved on earth, the
                      dear and faithful partner of my bosom. I now bid you goodbye; so
                      farewell for a time, and I shall expect to meet you in Heaven. God
                      bless you and protect you, and may He, in your experience, prove a
                      husband to the widow and a father to the fatherless. So farewell! My
                      darling Wife and Children. I am too weak now to say any more; so
                      farewell! My dear, darling, faithful partner. I shall meet you in
                      Heaven. Good-bye!-From your affectionate Husband,
                      WILLIAM NICOL,
                      With a Sore Heart.


                      In Memory of
                      WILLIAM NICOL
                      Late Seaman on Board the "Alert"
                      WHO DIED ON SHORE, JULY 31 1861
                      AGED 28 YEARS.

                      Farewell! for all my sufferings are,
                      And all my sorrows gone;
                      I go to live upon the shore
                      Where Christ shall be my home.

                      Mary Barnes



                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • maymyo25
                      Alison, Thank you for your reply and the information. I looked up the area involved on Google Earth and thought it must be very barren. Then I went into the
                      Message 10 of 10 , Feb 27, 2008
                      • 0 Attachment
                        Alison,

                        Thank you for your reply and the information. I looked up the area
                        involved on Google Earth and thought it must be very barren. Then I went
                        into the internet and found the following
                        http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/arctic/Arctic36-4-380.pdf
                        <http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/arctic/Arctic36-4-380.pdf> concerning a
                        William Penny from Peterhead. It would seem that there were Inuit at
                        Kekerten and that Penny introduced the technique of wintering on board
                        ship in 1853-54. So it was not impossible to survive a prolonged stay.
                        The Alerts downfall would seem to be linked to the lack of planning,
                        equipment and provision.

                        I would be very interested in anything you can find out though I
                        appreciate your comment that the loss of a ship was more likely to be
                        investigated than the loss of men. Whaling, much like coal mining had a
                        hidden cost, at least hidden from those not involved, and it seems the
                        loss of a whole ship was not unusual. It is easier to understand that a
                        crew may go down with its ship but less easy to accept that they starved
                        to death whilst protesting against the treatment they received.

                        I have been investigating our Robertson genealogy for a while now and
                        interesting events like these bring all those BMD records alive. Thank
                        you for your help.

                        Liz

                        --- In Peterhead@yahoogroups.com, "Alison Kennedy" <alison2kennedy@...>
                        wrote:
                        >
                        > Hi Liz,
                        >
                        > Thank you for your e-mail. I'm glad the information was of some
                        interest to you.
                        >
                        > Unfortunately the newspapers for Aberdeen (which commenced in 1747) &
                        Peterhead (commenced 1863) are not available online. Microfilm for the
                        newspapers is accessible through libraries in either place.
                        >
                        > I believe that whaling trips usually lasted about 9 months - a year,
                        unless the boat got caught in ice when it would have lasted until such
                        time as the boat became free! Conditions would have been very hard.
                        >
                        > I am not aware of an inquiry for this loss, but I will endeavour to
                        investigate this further. Whilst this may seem harsh, usually an inquiry
                        in these days was only held when a boat was lost, not when men died -
                        the loss of men was an accepted fact - the loss of a boat meant the loss
                        of money - but it sometimes depended on the circumstances. It's also
                        possible that an inquiry may have taken place but not covered by the
                        Aberdeen Journal, 1861 being before the Buchan Observer, who would have
                        been the more likely to cover the story, commenced.
                        >
                        > Alison
                        >
                        >
                        > ----- Original Message -----
                        > From: maymyo25
                        > To: Peterhead@yahoogroups.com
                        > Sent: Monday, February 25, 2008 10:39 PM
                        > Subject: [Peterhead] Re: The Alert of Peterhead
                        >
                        >
                        > Alison,
                        >
                        > I knew there must be a story behind it as soon as I found the death
                        > record of John Walker in the marine register. He died of extreme
                        > debility produced by cold. Out of curiosity I turned to the next page
                        > and it showed that three young men, ages 17, 27 and 22 died of
                        > frostbite and scurvy caused by insufficient food both inadequate in
                        > quantity and quality. Two other young men ages 17 and 28 drowned by
                        > upsetting of a boat when engaged in whale fishing. One page with
                        > three deaths is unavailable online but another young man age 27 is
                        > shown as having died of rheumatism and scurvy.
                        >
                        > They were away from home a long time and I cannot begin to imagine
                        > the despair and anguish of their relatives that they suffered such a
                        > horrible death. I do wonder what the outcome of any investigation
                        > was. I also wonder what the normal routine was for a ship involved in
                        > whaling. It would seem that this crew was short not only of food but
                        > of adequate clothing and fuel. Is the Aberdeen Journal available
                        > online? I live in Gloucestershire so I am not able search in Aberdeen.
                        >
                        > Many thanks for your reply,
                        > Liz
                        >
                        > --- In Peterhead@yahoogroups.com, "Alison Kennedy"
                        > alison2kennedy@ wrote:
                        > >
                        > > Hi Liz,
                        > >
                        > > The following article should help you somewhat:
                        > >
                        > > The Aberdeen Journal, Wednesday, October 9, 1861
                        > >
                        > >
                        > > THE "ALERT" OF PETERHEAD - SUFFERINGS OF THE CREW - The Sentinel
                        > says that a number of rumours are flying about town with reference to
                        > the conduct at the ice of Mr Forbes Milne, the nominal captain of the
                        > vessel - charges of cruelty, &c, being flatly and broadly brought
                        > against him, with what amount of authority or truthfulness it is
                        > impossible for us to say. However, the greater part of the
                        > complications in the melancholy matter seem to have arisen from the
                        > fact of his having been placed on board of the vessel as actual and
                        > practical Captain, while he neither appeared in the books of the
                        > Custom House in that capacity, nor possessed a certificate entitling
                        > him to hold that office. With regard to the charges brought against
                        > Mr Milne by the crew, we forbear alluding to them until the matter be
                        > properly and fully investigated by the authorities. The Alert left
                        > Peterhead for the Straits on the 18th May, 1860, and sighted the ice
                        > on June 8. On July 27, a boat was capsized following a fish, and two
                        > of the crew, Burnett and Mitchell, were never seen after being
                        > pitched out of the boat. On August 12, five boats chased and kept in
                        > a number of white whales on a shoal till the tide receded. 111 of
                        > them were killed. On October 25, a number of the men were ill, and
                        > only a boat's crew out of the whole ship's company were able
                        > to "flinch" a fish that was caught, which could not be done for a few
                        > days in consequence of the severity of the weather. On November 3,
                        > the Alert bore up for home with a northerly wind, but after several
                        > endeavours, could not get out of the Gulf. On the 25th she was
                        > driven up into a bay about 20 miles equi-distant from Niatlik and New
                        > Boyes stations. At this place she wintered. Serious
                        > misunderstandings are said to have taken place between Mr Milne and
                        > the crew on the score of provisions &c. Between the 11th November,
                        > 1860, and 31st July 1861, other eight men died. Fuel ran short, and
                        > proper food, even when it could be had, could not be properly
                        > cooked. Sometimes a couple of days' allowance of beef would be
                        > served out, and then for some weeks no more would be allowed. The
                        > crew had little or any sugar (so essential in these regions) for the
                        > whole of this time. The bread got done, and flour and Indian meal
                        > (got from the American ships) was served out as food; but in
                        > consequence of the scarcity of fuel, it could not be rendered
                        > properly available. For some time a number of the crew left the
                        > ship, existing by what they could get at the stations and from other
                        > ships. Seals flesh, whale skins, blubber, &c., had to be eaten on
                        > board the ship. Mr Milne, however, remained all along in the vessel -
                        > for some time alone, with the exception of a couple of boys, the
                        > rest of the crew being taken away by Captain Simpson of the "Union,"
                        > and Mr Thompson, manager of the Aberdeen Artic Company at Kickarton,
                        > as they were all dangerously ill at the time. The most deaths
                        > occurred in the commencement of the thaw, the cases being scurvy,
                        > exhaustion, and exposure to the weather - none of the crew being
                        > prepared with the necessary clothing or anything else for an Artic
                        > winter. On the 23d August of this year, when the "Alert" was
                        > preparing to proceed home, on the representation of the crew, and
                        > investigation into the differences between Mr Milne and them was held
                        > on board the "Artic" of Aberdeen - Captain Reid of the "Artic,"
                        > Captain Simpson of the "Union," and Captain Mackinnon of the "Alibi,"
                        > acting as judges in the matter. The result of their deliberations
                        > was that they decided on displacing Mr Forbes Milne from his post as
                        > Captain, filling his place by Mr Taylor the mate. Mr Robertson of
                        > the "Alibi" was then obtained to act as mate. Matters now went on
                        > more smoothly, and a full supply of provisions having been obtained
                        > from the depots of the Aberdeen Artic Company, the vessel bore up for
                        > home immediately, and arrived here on Tuesday forenoon (as stated in
                        > our last). The names of the men dead are - John Mitchell, New Deer,
                        > and William Bennett, Strichen, drowned by the upsetting of a boat,
                        > 27th July 1860; John Walker, Peterhead, 11th November 1860; John
                        > McKenzie, Portknockie, 13th December 1860; William McKenzie,
                        > Peterhead, 24th April 1861; Peter Campbell, Sutherlandshire, 30th
                        > May; Alex. Pickard, Longside, 3d June; Robert Milne, carpenter,
                        > Peterhead, 25th June; William Nicol, Peterhead, 31st July.
                        > The "Alert" brings intelligence of the loss of the "Union" of this
                        > port. She sank at her station in the month of May, but her cargo,
                        > amounting to some 25 or 30 tons of oil, and her casks, do, have been
                        > saved. Her men were living at their station-houses, and were all
                        > saved.
                        > >
                        > >
                        > >
                        > > Alison
                        > >
                        > >
                        > > ----- Original Message -----
                        > > From: maymyo25
                        > > To: Peterhead@yahoogroups.com
                        > > Sent: Monday, February 25, 2008 4:02 PM
                        > > Subject: [Peterhead] The Alert of Peterhead
                        > >
                        > >
                        > > Please does anyone have any information or know where I can find
                        > out
                        > > about the tragedy that happened to the whaler, the Alert of
                        > Peterhead
                        > > in 1861. The shipmaster, John Walker was married to Isabella
                        > Robertson.
                        > > I think that half the crew died, and I wonder if there is a
                        > memorial to
                        > > them?
                        > >
                        > > Liz Robertson
                        >
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