You are logged on as '': logout Login/Register
Freeze Frame Scott Polar Research Institute

You are in: Resources > Biographies > Gray David (Jnr)

Gray, David (Jnr.) (1829-1896)

Born on 20th October 1829 into a family with a long seafaring history. The Greenhead whaling industry is thought to have started with his grandfathers, Captain David Grey Snr. and Captain Alex Geary.

He first went whaling with his father in 1844 when he was just 15 years of age. In 1849 at the age of 20 he was promoted to the command of the barque North of Scotland and in 1853 he became the master of the vessel the Active. In 1866 he took command of the Eclipse a steamship which had been built especially for him. He commanded the Eclipse from 1867-1890.

In his lifetime he was considered an authority on whaling and Artic navigation making many technical contributions that were highly valued. When the Arctic whaling industry fell into decline he was of the opinion that the whales were not a scarce as was thought, but that the introduction of steam boats and the noise this produced has resulted in the whales taking refuge in inaccessible areas.

During his 43 years of commandership he caught 198 whales and 168,956 seals. It is thought he caught over 100 tons of whalebone which sold for £400-£2000 per ton, and oil selling for £16-£60 per ton. He sailed the Arctic seas for 48 years, making over 50 voyages.

He married twice, first to Miss Isabella Law with whom he had two daughters and two sons (who both died at a young age). He later married Miss Amelia Walker with whom he had 11 children.

He died 16 May 1896 aged 67.

Further Information

Peterhead Sentinel and Buchan Observer 19 May 1896.