Truelove: From War to Whaler

Truelove from Hull on a jug

Truelove plaque

Spoils of War


The 'Truelove' was built in Philadelphia in 1764 and came into English hands during the American War of Independence where she had been used as a privateer. She was sold to John Voase, a wine merchant and ship owner in Hull, and was converted into a whaling ship.

The 'Truelove' made over 80 voyages, killing over 500 whales as well as seals, walruses, narwhals and polar bears. The 'Truelove' also brought wine from Oporto and for 9 years she engaged in general trade with the Baltic ports.

In 1835 the 'Truelove' was one of a fleet trapped in ice in Melville Bay, Greenland. Twenty of the fleet were crushed but 'Truelove' survived unharmed. Captain Wells described her as 'handy as a cutter, safe as a lifeboat, and tight as a bottle'.

Truelove logbook

Visitors from Greenland


In 1847 Captain John Parker brought a couple back from the Nyatlick in the Cumberland Straits to Hull on the 'Truelove'. The couple called Memiadluk and Uckaluk were brought to England to highlight the poor conditions in their homeland and after arriving in Hull they took part in talks in Manchester and York.

Before their departure plaster casts were made of their heads as well as the head of Captain Parker and these are now displayed in the Hull Maritime Museum. Memiadluk and Uckaluk were given a variety of gifts by their hosts before they left but unfortunately on the return journey to Cumberland South Uckaluk died after there was an outbreak of Measles on board.

End of an Era


The 'Truelove' was the last of the Hull whalers and sailed alongside the steam powered whaling vessels in the 1850's and 60's. In 1873 she travelled to her home port of Philadelphia and was presented with a flag in honour of her 'birth' there 109 years earlier.

After her visit to Philadelphia there were calls to have her made into a floating museum but this never came about and she ended her days as a bulk on the Thames before she was finally broken up in the late 1890's. The 'Truelove' was in use for over 130 years, outliving all other vessels of her class who were built at the same time.

Plaster cast of the head of Captain John Parker

Some Captains of the Truelove


John Parker was Captain of the 'Truelove' for 17 years and was a master on the whalers for 27 years - a record that was unsurpassed by any other Captain.

William Barron was the youngest apprentice on board the 'Truelove' when he set sail along with Captain John Parker in 1849 for that season's whaling. He would work his way up to Captain by 1861 becoming one of Hull's most noted whaling captains.

William Wells sailed in whalers between 1844 and 1863. After coming ashore he became Haven Master of Hull and advisor to the Arctic explorer Benjamin Leigh Smith.