write. He was five foot 6 1/2 inches tall, with a fair complexion, fair hair, blue eyes and no scars. Whaling was on a terminal decline, as overfishing had made large whales very scarce in the Arctic waters. On top of this, the 1830 disaster when 13 Arctic whaling ships were lost, and 1835 when another 5 sunk and six other ships were frozen in, had made it difficult for the industry to find financial backing. Basil didn’t receive his merchant seaman’s ticket until he signed on for another whaling season at Lerwick on March 6, 1845. His registration number was 251611.
Basil Anderson’s known whaling record is as follows;
1839 – first went to sea as seaman
1845 – sailed on whaler, the name presently unknown, which departed from Lerwick on March 9. It returned to port on June 22. Out of his wages came expenses, for oatmeal, coffee, tea, sugar, knives, gloves, and clothing.
1846 – sailed on ‘Union’ (Captain John Ogston) which departed from Lerwick on March 9. It had a crew of 19 men. It returned to Peterhead on August 13. The catch was no whales but 1500 seals (13 tons of oil). The ‘Union’ was a barquentine, 225 tons built in 1812 and measured 80 feet x 25 1/2 feet. The owner of ship George Arbuthnot of Peterhead made a heavy loss on this ‘Union’ voyage. Basil was paid for 5 months 5 days at 30/- per month plus 1/- per ton of oil less expenses, which included tobacco. Basil’s final cash payout was £3.5s.11d.
1847 – sailed on ‘Fairy’ (Captain Kerr) which departed from Lerwick on March 17. It returned to Aberdeen on July 22. The catch was no whales but 5400 seals (78 tons of oil). Three ships were lost in the ice during this season. Basil was paid for 4 months and 5 days at 30/- per month plus 1s.3d. per ton of oil less expenses which included a half share in a fiddle and whisky. The purchase of the fiddle for this voyage suggests Basil was a musician. Basil’s final payment was £4.17s.6d. His brother Henry was on the top performer for that season, the ‘Eclipse’ which returned with nine whales and 3,500 seals (165 tons of oil). Henry received only £1.9s.5d after expenses.
1848 – sailed on the ‘Fairy’ (Captain Kerr) which departed from Lerwick on March 9. It fished the Davis Strait and returned to Aberdeen on July 29. The catch was 1/2 a whale and less than 150 seals (4 ton of oil). This yovage [voyage] was a financial disaster and the ship was put up for sale, to try to recoup the losses. Basil was paid for 4 months and 20 days at 32s.6d. plus 1s.3d. per ton of oil less expenses including rum and whisky. Basil final cash payment was £1.0.2d. plus a direct payment of 19s.2d. was made to John Johnson (Sound) from his wages.
1849 – sailed with his youngest brother (first time at sea) on the ‘Anne’ (Captain Hunter) which departed Lerwick on March 17 for Greenland. The ship suffered much damage in the ice and arrived back at Lerwick on August 6. The catch was no whales and 1800 seals (33 1/2tons of oil). Basil was paid for 4 months and 21 days at 35/- per month and 1/- per ton of oil less expenses which included rum, whisky and tobacco. His brother Robert received less than half of Basil’s pay rate. Basil’s final payment was £1.11s.8 1/2d, while his brother received 10s.6d.
1850 – sailed on the ‘Abraham’ (Captain John Gravill) which departed Lerwick on April 6. This vessel had a crew of 25 seamen and fished the eastside of Davis Straits. ‘Abraham’ was built in 1819, and was 319 tons. During the season, the British fleet of 32 ships caught 88 whales, 74,058 seals and 1872 tons of oil. The ‘Abraham’ arrived back in Lerwick on October 30. The catch was two whales (27 tons of oil). Basil was paid for 6 months and 25 days at 30/- less expenses including rum. Basil’s final payout was £4.9s.
1853 – sailed on the ‘Abraham’ (Captain John Gravill) which departed from Lerwick on March 11 for Greenland. Twenty-six seamen made up the crew. They had a huge seal kill, 3,500 by April 20, but experienced bad ice and rough weather. The whaling fleet had now shrunk to 13 vessels, all based out of the port of Hull. The ‘Abraham’ returned to Lerwick on September 5. The catch was one whale and 4,400 seals (40 tons of oil). It was a fair season and no ships were lost. Basil was paid for 5 months and 25 days at £2 per month, 1s.6d.per ton of oil and 9d.per 100 skins less expenses. Basil’s cash release was £1.21s.9 1/2d [£1.2s.9 1/2d?].
The above whaling records came from the shipping agents Hay and Co. in Lerwick. Many other whaling records are held in the Maritime Records Office, in Newfoundland, Canada. Of the whaling ships Basil sailed on; the ‘Union’ was wrecked in Arctic ice in 1859, the ‘Fairy’ was lost in ice the following year, ‘Anne’ was wrecked in a gale in 1861 and the ‘Abraham’ wrecked in 1862. In 1871, although very favourable season, highlights the hazards of the industry. Thirty-four American vessels had to be abandoned in the ice and only one ship survived to be refloated, although there was no loss of human life.
Basil Anderson, and Barbara Ramsay who was residing with her parents at Hammar* of Lund, Unst, proclaimed their marriage banns three times at the Unst Church, on December 5, 1847. They were first cousins, as Barbara’s father was a younger brother of Basil‘s mother. Barbara’s parents were Laurence Ramsay (Newgord) and Mary Stickle (Underhoull), who was the youngest child of Andrew Stickle and Barbara Williamson. Barbara Ramsay had been born at Newgord, Unst on 2nd October 1825, the eldest child of Laurence and Mary. Basil Anderson and Barbara chose December 14, and St. Magnus Church at Hamnavoe on Yell, to be wed. Rev. William Telfer, the Missionary for South Yell took the service, while Barbara’s uncles Robert Ramsay (Caldback) and James Ramsay (Ordale) were the witnesses. The newly weds were able to move into a vacant cottage a door away from Basil’s family at Sound, West Yell. Their first child Mary was born June 16,1848 but she was quickly taken, and when another daughter arrived on June 22 the following year, she was also christened Mary. The first male Arthur was born at Sound, West Yell, on August 23,1851. Soon after this, Unst promised better prospects and Basil and Barbara uprooted, moving to where her parents lived at Hammar of Lund. This overlooks Lunda Wick the partially sheltered cove, where the local fishing boats set off. The possible reason for their shift, was the loss of Basil’s brothers in 1851. Basil may have found a new sixareen to crew. His father-in-law is recorded as skipper of several different Unst boats. Family information suggested Basil at one stage sailed with Captain James Brown, famous for the 1896 Fridtjof Nansen rescue, on his Arctic ship called Windward. This is hard to believe as Brown was born in Peterhead during 1847, and didn‘t get a commission until 1865 and the Windward wasn’t launched until 1860. All this seems too late for Basil’s seafaring days, so it maybe Brown’s father he crewed with.