Racehorse at Deptford


Sloop crew. Photo courtesy of Inland Waterways Museum


Back up to Whitby this weekend.  I wanted to take one last look at the stockings, hat and mittens on display at The Captain Cook Memorial Museum, before they return to Gdansk, at the end of this month.

I wanted to take a close look (through the display case!) and take some notes, for my research on the history of Yorkshire knitting.  The three items on display from the wreck of The General Carleton, are a pair of stockings, an interesting thrummed cap, and a pair of mittens.  The mittens were recognisably Latvian (I knew from having spent a frightening amount of the 1980s glued to Shelagh Hollingworth’s ‘Scandinavian Knitting’). The other two items I feel are Yorkshire.

I documented everything I could,  paying especial interest to the stockings as they seem to be like the ones I was researching being knit by the charity school girls in York, in the 1780s and 90s. Will be sharing that research in the coming months.

Also on display, a letter from Capt. Phipps dated 10th May, 1773, listing the clothing requested for a crew of a similar ship to the General Carleton. I should say, ‘Fearnought’ jackets are made from a fulled, woven wool and probably like the one pictured here, from the wreck of the General Carleton.

Again, mention of knitted items but no mention of a gansey or anything we could interpret as such.  In 1773, Racehorse attempted an expedition to the North Pole, so this is detailing clothing from the most extreme conditions imaginable.  Capt. Phipps took both Racehorse and Carcass to esplore the North-West Passage  in 1773 – Horatio Nelson was midshipman on the Carcass, and it was on this expedition he had his famous brawl with a polar bear. There’s a vivid account of this voyage here.

Navy Office

1oth May, 1773


Having received Directions for the Right Honble [sic] the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to furnish the undermentioned Extra Necessaries for the crews of His Majesty’s sloops Racehorse and Carcass, viz: –

Flannel jackets two for each Man

Cotton shirts

Cotton Handkerchiefs

Fearnought Jackets, Lined – Two

Kersey Inside Waistcoats lined – Two

Milled Yarn Caps – Two

Boots – One Pair

Boot  Stockings – Two pair

Fearnought Trowsers – Two Pair

Mittings [sic] One Dozen Pair each Man

We desire you will please to let us know what Numbers of Men are to be furnished therewith

And are

Your Humble Servants

H Palliser

Williams [sic]

Geo. Marsh

Hon’ble Captain Phipps

Racehorse at Deptford.

(From the Mulgrave Archives,  letter loaned to exhibition by Lord Normanby)


Racehorse and Carcass