Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Whitby I - Henry Freeman

This handsome fellow is Henry Freeman (1835-1904) who was the only survivor of the Whitby Lifeboat Disaster of 1861.  The boat went out six times on the 9th of February that year, successfully rescuing dozens of merchant seamen on the first five trips.  On the sixth, however, the boat capsized, and Mr. Freeman was the only survivor, probably because he was wearing a new design of cork lifejacket.  The picture above was made later after the jacket design became the standard, and he is shown wearing the Silver Medal in the commemorative poster below.



  1. The Whitby Lifeboat Disaster of 1861 is still spoken of today and as a boy, I remember learning about it in junior school, demonstrating just how conscious we all were - remain? - of the selfless work of the RNLI.

    Whitby is historically important because of the Synod of Whitby, called by King Oswy of Northumbria in 663, and which adopted the Roman or Western calculation of the date of Easter (the first Sunday after the first full moon following the Vernal Equinox) as opposed to the Celtic date. Until then, historians of Christianity call what became "England" an Orthodox Christian country, in the same way as the autocephalous churches of the East. After this date, England is regarded as a Roman Catholic country until the Reformation.

    1. The Celtic version of Christianity lingered a few centuries longer in parts of Scotland. In fact, it is reflected in a number of Hebridean folk customs to this day.