Whitehaven People

Here is a short list of some of the characters linked with Whitehaven throughout its history. Please click on any name that is hyperlinked to read more about these fascinating people and their connection with Whitehaven.

Anthony Bacon (1717-1786)

Master Mariner, Tobacco merchant, Slave trader, Arms manufacturer, Member of Parliament and Industrial financier who became one of the richest men in England through development of Merthyr Tydfil into the world's largest iron manufacturer.

Thomas Bacon (c1710-1768)

Publisher, clergyman and musician famous for compiling the laws of Maryland.

Daniel Brocklebank (1741-1801)

Ship builder who escaped America at the start of the war with that country and set up a shipbuilding company in Whitehaven which built many of Whitehaven's larger ships at the time. The company later moved to Liverpool were the Brocklebank shipping line progressed until its eventual merger with Cunard.

Dr. William Brownrigg (1711-1800)

Did pioneering work on the gases generated down the local mines and became a Fellow of the Royal Society which lead to a visit from Benjamin Franklin.

Daniel Defoe (1660-1731)

Writer and creator of Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders gave an early description of Whitehaven in "A Tour Through…Britain 1724-26"

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

US Statesman who helped draft the declaration of Independence and the Constitution and was ambassador to France during the raid of John Paul Jones. As a scientist who did a lot of work on electricity he visited Dr. William Brownrigg who worked in Whitehaven on mine gases.

Mildred Gale (c1671 -1701) aka Mildred Washington, Mildred Warner 

Mildred Warner married Laurence Washington and had 3 children John , Augustine and Mildred. One of these children Augustine became George Washingtons father. However, when her first husband died she remarried George Gale a Virginia merchant and moved with him to Whitehaven, were his family resided, bringing the 3 children. She died here and was buried in St. Nicholas church gardens.

Archbishop Grindall (1519-1583)

Most likely born at St. Bees and not Hensingham. Became Archbishop of Canterbury during the reign of Elizabeth I.

Tom Hurd (c1690)

Lost hero of the romantic story behind the name of Tom Hurd rock.

Walter Lutwidge

Tobacco Merchant who once had a mansion were the old Methodist church now stands on Lowther St. He was one of the leading merchants at the time and High Sheriff of Cumberland in 1748.

John Paul Jones (1747-1792)

Famous American Naval hero. Started his career at Whitehaven but ended up becoming a captain of the fledgling American navy. During a tour of the British coast he attacked many ships and perpetrated a raid on the port of Whitehaven that shook the complacent English. He later became an admiral in the Russian navy but died in Paris.

Christopher Lowther (1611-1644)

The first Lowther associated with Whitehaven.

James Lowther (1673 -1755)

Known as farthing Jemmy because of his tight control of finances which with the development of his Whitehaven trade made him the richest commoner in the land.

John Lowther (1642 -1705)

The Lowther who took a small fishing village and transformed it into a populous town with a port to rival any in the North of England. He bought the house known as the Flatt and laid out plans for the development of the mines the harbour and the town.

Sal Madge

Famous Whitehaven character who worked with colliery horses and dressed and behaved in a manner very masculine for the period. It was probably due to the nature of her work that she had a rugged appearance and her manly dress was only practical. Yet she was known to wrestle with men for sport and did smoke a pipe. She must have been popular with local people because her funeral saw a great turnout.

John Fletcher Miller (1816-1856)

Whitehaven Fellow of the Royal Society who travelled the district relentlessly measuring rainfall to provide pioneering work in meteorology. He had an observatory near High Street which was still standing in the 20th century.

Henry Jefferson (1750-1827)

Rum merchant who founded the business in Whitehaven which involved a fleet of ships, plantations in Antigua and bonded warehouses in Whitehaven which now house the Rum Story exhibition.

Robert Jefferson (1704-1779)

Became a master mariner at Whitehaven and sailed to Virginia with local goods returning with tobacco.

Ann Raney (Coleman) (1810-1897)

Daughter of wealthy Whitehaven banker who emigrated to Texas after becoming bankrupt and whose journals on frontier life at the time was published as Victorian Lady on the Texas Frontier. Her sister, Mary, married the son of American President William Henry Harrison.

Mathias Read (1669-1747)

The founder of painting in Whitehaven whose picture "A Birds Eye View" dramatically shows John Lowther's plan of a well laid out affluent town in 1738.

Robert Salmon (1775-1844)

Originally named Robert Salomen his father had a silversmiths in King Street. He started marine painting in Whitehaven and went on to become one of the most respected painters of that subject both in Britain and America.

Carlisle Spedding (1695-1755)

A great mining engineer, who was also an inventor, businessman, merchant, architect, and industrial spy. Sank many mine shafts, created and built St. James church and developed safety in mines.

John Spedding (1685-1758)

John Lowthers agent in Whitehaven and a prominent man in the town's affairs and business, brother to Carlisle his partner in business.

Jonathon Swift (1667-1745)

Author of Gulliver's Travels who later became Dean of St. Patricks, Dublin. His nurse kidnapped him as an infant and brought him to Whitehaven for 3 years and taught him to read.

JMW Turner (1775-1851)

Famous painter who did a painting from the sea which portrayed a ship in distress in a stormy sea with the port of Whitehaven in the background.

John Ware (-1791)

Publisher of the first Bible in the Manx language and founder of the Cumberland Paquet newspaper which chronicled local events for over 140 years.

George Washington (1732-1799)

The USA's first President whose grandmother lived and was buried in Whitehaven. He also at one point ordered red sandstone from St. Bees for the portico at his residence in Virginia. His father was educated in Cumbria at Appleby.

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

Famous romantic Poet Laureate who lived at nearby Cockermouth where his father was Lowther's agent. His uncle Richard lived in Whitehaven and was keeper of Customs for the district and his son was rector at Moresby.

Jan Van Wyck(1640-1702)

Painted View of Whitehaven from the sea -1686. This is one of the earliest views of Whitehaven harbour and shows the construction of the stonework. Possible Read connection, worked with him in Ireland then brought him to Whitehaven

Return to home page

WAWL 2006