Thomas Jefferson Papers
Note: this document has content that may require expanded/print view for best results (icons above right)

No. 12: State of the Whale Fishery in Massachusetts from 1771 to 1775

No. 12.

State of the Whale Fishery in Massachusetts from 1771 to 1775.
Ports from which the Equipments were made. The number of vessels fitted out Annually for the Northern Fishery Their Tonnage The number of vessels fitted out Annually for the Sorthern Fishery Their Tonnage The number of Seamen employed Barrels of Spermaceti Oil taken annually Barrels of Whale Oil taken annually
Nantucket 65 4,875 85 10,200 2,025 26,000 4,000
Wellfleet 20 1,600 10 1,000 420 2,250 2,250
Dartmouth 60 4,500 20 2,000 1,040 7,200 1,400
Lynn 1 75 1 120 28 200 100
Martha’s Vineyard 12 720 156 900 300
Barnstable 2 150 26 240
Boston 15 1,300 5 700 260 1,800 600
Falmouth in the County of Barnstable 4 300 52 400
Swanzey 4 300 52 400
183 13,820 121 14,020 4,059 39,390 8,650

State of the Whale Fishery from 1787 to 1789 both inclusive.
Nantucket 18 1,350 18 2,700 487 3,800 8,260
Wellfleet & other Ports at Cape Cod 12 720 4 400 212 1,920
Dartmouth 45 2,700 5 750 650 2,700 1,750
Cape Ann 2 350 28 1,200
Plymouth 1 60 13 100
Martha’s Vineyard 2 120 1 100 39 220
Boston 6 450 78 360
Rochester & Wareham 7 420 1 90 104 800
91 5,820 31 4,390 1,611 7,980 13,130

True Copy, Attest John Avery Junr. Secretary

N.B. About one quarter of the Spermaceti is head matter, one quarter of which was exported to Great Britain, the remainder manufactured into Candles. The Spermaceti Oil, previous to the Revolution, was mostly exported to Great Britain. The average price in that market for five years previous to the War, about forty pounds sterling for the Spermaceti Oil, and fifty pounds for Head. The Whale Oil was formerly about one half exported to the French and English West India Islands, the other half sold in the United States. The average price of this Oil, about seventy Dollars per Ton. A whale producing one hundred and twenty Barrels whale oil, will generally produce 2000 ℔ Bone, which was chiefly exported to Great Britain, the price about half a Dollar pr. pound. A whale producing 50 to 60 Barrels, will generally produce nearest ten pounds of bone to a Barrel of oil.—The average price of Oil for three years past, as follows, vizt. Spermaceti, one hundred dollars per ton. Whale Oil, fifty Dollars per ton. Head matter, one hundred and fifty do. per ton. Bone, about fifteen Cents per pound.

PrC (DLC: TJ Papers, 60: 10456); in hand of Lambert except for “No. 12.” inserted by TJ at head of text. Tr (DNA: RG 59, Record of Reports of Thomas Jefferson). FC (MBA). (Text of FC was enclosure No. 5 in Hancock to TJ; see Document I above.)

Index Entries