Jason S. R. Paling

A History of Whaling in Bermuda.

(Under the direction of Professor Lawrence B. Babits) Department of History, May 2003.

This thesis examines whaling in Bermuda. Bermudian whaling dates as early as the sixteenth century when Bermuda Company colonists began supporting themselves as whalemen. Shore whaling existed on the islands for nearly 340 years, spanning four centuries, but never developed into a major industry, although Bermudians' demand for food, goods, and merchandise was especially strong. Unlike other nations, Bermudian whaling was a seasonal activity, conducted by a variety of socio-cultural groups. By the late nineteenth century, whaling companies included whites, liberated slaves, and Portuguese island immigrants. This thesis also examines Bermuda's participation in the global whale commodities exchange during the nineteenth century. By examining import and export ledgers from 1840 to 1880, this work analyzes the movement of lighting oil made from whales and investigates Bermuda's role as an intermediary trading port for Atlantic nations. Finally, this work records the cultural materials abandoned by whalers. An examination of the equipment and structures illustrates the development of the nineteenth and twentieth century trade through technology. The study also reveals the influence other nations had on Bermuda. The assimilation of new technologies and the need for whale meat ensured that whaling continued into the twentieth century, lasting longer than many other whaling nations.