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From: "jim C penny" <>
Subject: [PENNY] Captain William Penny - Obituary
Date: Fri, 09 Feb 2001 21:30:40 +1000

I found this in the Central library in Aberdeen, Scotland:

In Memoriam - Captain William Penny died Aberdeen (22 Springbank Terrace Aberdeen) 1st February 1892.

The deceased was a native of Peterhead, where he was born on 12th July 1809. His father was a whale skipper, and young Penny, not unnaturally, took to the whale fishing, and became a "skipper" in turn. He was sent to sea (or he went to sea) when he was twelve years of age, and he led a seafaring life for well on to forty-six years, retiring about five and twenty years ago, and settling down in Aberdeen, where he had established his home when quite a young man. Many a cruise did Penny make to the Arctic regions - profitable cruises, we daresay, for those were the days when big - positively huge cargoes of whale-oil were obtained; and experience and observation had made Penny acquainted with valuable fishing ground. Captain Penny was among the earliest advocates of the adoption of steam vessels for the prosecution of the whale fishery; and a Mr. Stephen, of Dundee, having taken up the idea and constructed a steamer, Captain Penny took command of it - the first steam whaler. Th!
e men who ordinarily formed the crews of the whalers were greatly incensed at this new departure, and threatened to "tar and feather" Penny; but the threat was not executed, and steam whalers soon became the order of the day.

As has been already indicated, Captain Penny played a not unimportant part in the search for Sir John Franklin and the ill-fated crews of the "Erebus" and "Terror". He was assigned the command of two brigs, the "Lady Franklin and "Sophia" (so names after Lady Franklin's daughter, we presume), having thus control of an expedition separate from but subordinate to one conducted by Captain Austin in vessels of the Royal Navy. He sailed from this country in May 1850, and in the course of the summer, he discovered at Beechy Island, in Wellington channel, distinct traces of Sir John Franklins winter quarters for the year 1845-5 - the year that Sir John Franklin left England. Small stores of different kinds were found; and three graves were also found, the headboards showing them to be the three seamen who died in the spring of 1846. The place at Beechy Island was examined by H.M. ships after it had been discovered by Captain Penny; but nothing further was found, and the vessels h!
ad to abandon all hope of finding the lost expedition, and returned home. Captain Penny returned in September 1851. His vessel the " Lady Franklin" was fallen in with about twenty miles north of the Orkneys by HMS "Tartarus" under the command of Lieutenant R. Risk, R.N., then engaged in fishing inspection, the Secretary of the Board of Fisheries being on board. Lieutenant Risk immediately embarked Captain Penny, with the despatches for the Admiralty from Captain Austin's squadron, and sailed direct for Aberdeen, so as to enable Captain Penny to proceed to London by express train.

Captain Penny married in 1840, a Miss Irvine of Aberdeen, who died eight months ago; and he is survived by a son, a tea planter in India, and a daughter. (Died 1923, and buried at Fetterangus Cemetary stone 124)


Extract from the Death Certificate of Captain William Penny (from the Registrars Office):

Died 1st February 1892 aged 82. Widower of Margaret Irvine. Parents: William Penny and Helen Penny m/s Robertson. Witnessed by daughter, Helen Penny, Viewmount Forfar.

Note: he had been paralysed for the previous ten years.

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