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 The North-westers 
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Post The North-westers




The Times, May 29th, 1788:

" ... On Tuesday, the North-westers weighed anchor, and fell down the River to proceed on their annual voyages. There are but three ships in this trade, the King George, Fower; the Seahorse, Curtis; and the Prince Rupert, Richards; and this day the Hudson's Bay Company entertain the Captains with a grand dinner at Gravesend, after which they sail for the Orkneys. From the day these ships leave England, to the day they return there never arrives any intelligence from them. ...."


Does anyone know anything about the North-westers, please?



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Fri Feb 27, 2009 11:38 am
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Each year a convoy of Hudson’s Bay Company ships (never more than half a dozen and sometimes only two) sailed from the Nore around the north of Scotland and across the North Atlantic to Hudson’s Bay. In wartime they were usually escorted by one of HM ships as far as about 300 miles west of the Orkneys and, on their return journey, were met by an escort at the Orkneys. The ships timed their voyage to reach Canada after the ice melted and left again before being frozen-in. The HBC had a rule that their ships always broke ground on the 29th May, although they did not nescessarily sail from the River on this date. THe HBC ships usually arrived back at the Nore in November.

In 1813 HM Sloop BRAZEN 18 accompanied the North-westers all the way to Hudson's Bay and in 1814 the same service was performed by HM Ship ROSAMOND 20, which had the distinction, whilst awaiting the HBC ships at the Nore, of having her gunner face a Court Martial as a result of the firing, at Spithead, of a signal gun which proved to be shotted and killed a man. Because of ice damage, the ROSAMOND was subsequently sold out of the Service.

The convoys called at Stromness in the Orkneys where their arrival was announced by a gun salute and was the occasion for what amounted to a fair as the ships there purchased their requirements for the long voyage (poultry, beef, vegetables etc.).

In 1782 the French made an attempt to capture the annual HBC ships by sending de la Perouse with a line of battle ship and two frigates into Hudson's Bay. They were unsuccessful due to the skill of the Company's Masters.

For a description of the voyage of the ROSAMOND see:
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=u0w ... =1#PPP5,M1


Sat Feb 28, 2009 1:21 am
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Thank you, too, for the information about the North-Westers, and, as always, for your wealth of knowledge, Peter.

I have yet to follow the link but just wanted to mention that I found the information particularly fascinating as I was in the Orkneys last summer. Hubby and I took a local bus across mainland Orkney - as it is so charmingly referred - to Stromness, and tying in with your mention of the Hudson Bay Co., I took a photograph of a plaque - in the tiny, narrow main street - commemorating the islands' links with the Company.

Further pictures of Stromness for anyone interested.


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Sat Feb 28, 2009 1:00 pm
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