Red Jacket (clipper)

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Owner: Seacomb & Taylor, Boston
Port of registry: United States
Builder: George Thomas, Rockland, ME
Launched: 1853[1]
Owner: Pilkington & Wilson, for the White Star Line
Port of registry:  United Kingdom
Acquired: 1854[1]
Notes: In the immigrant trade; became an Australian and Indian coastal freighter, 1861.
Owner: Wilson & Chambers, Liverpool, 1868[1]
Notes: "Put in the Transatlantic Quebec timber trade" [1], 1872. "Collided with and sank the Eliza Walker. The entire crew of the later ship was saved," 1878.[1]
Owner: Blandy Brothers, Madeira Islands
Port of registry: 22x20px Madeira
Acquired: 1883
Fate: Driven ashore in a gale, 1885.
Notes: “Reduced to a coalbarge at the Cape Verde Islands."
General characteristics
Class and type: Extreme clipper, designed by Samuel H. Pook
Tons burthen: 2305 tons,[1]
Length: 251 ft. 2 in.[1], or 260 ft.
Beam: 44 ft.
Draft: 31 ft.[1], or 26 ft.

'Red Jacket' was a famous clipper ship, one of the largest and fastest ever built. She was named after Sagoyewatha, a famous Seneca Indian chief, called "Red Jacket" by settlers. She was designed by Samuel Hartt Pook, built by George Thomas in Rockland, Maine, and launched in 1853.


On her first voyage, Red Jacket set the speed record for sailing ships crossing the Atlantic by traveling from New York to Liverpool in 13 days, 1 hour, 25 minutes, dock to dock.

She left Rockland under tow, and was rigged in New York. Her captain was Osa Eldridge, a veteran packet ship commander, and she had a crew of 65. On the passage to Liverpool, she averaged 14.5 knots (26.9 km/h), with sustained bursts of 17 knots (31.5 km/h).

A Collins Line steamer arriving in Liverpool (which had left New York two days before Red Jacket) reported that Red Jacket was just astern. As she entered the harbor, tugs tried to get lines aboard the clipper but she was traveling too fast. Thousands, alerted by the Collins Liner, watched as Eldridge shortened sail and backed the vessel into its berth.

At Liverpool she had her bottom coppered and cabins fitted out for the Australian immigrant trade.

Red Jacket was purchased by Pilkington & Wilcox and other Liverpool investors with registry changing on April 24, 1854. (Most secondary sources say that the vessel was bought by the British a year later, copying a mistake made by earlier historians.) She was then chartered by the White Star Line for a run to Melbourne, Australia. Under Captain Samuel Reid (who owned 1/16 of her), she reached in Melbourne in 69 days. Only one clipper, James Baines, ever made the run faster.

Red Jacket served in the immigrant trade until 1861, when she became an Australian and Indian coastal freighter.

Fate of the ship

In 1872 Red Jacket joined clippers Marco Polo and Donald McKay, which "ended their days in the Quebec lumber trade,"[2] and became a lumber carrier from Quebec to London. In 1883 she was sold to Blandy Brothers, a Portuguese shipping company in the Madeira Islands as a coaling hulk. She was driven ashore in a gale in 1885.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Bruzelius, Lars (2001-02-23). "Sailing Ships: "Red Jacket" (1853)". Red Jacket. The Maritime History Virtual Archives. Retrieved April 19, 2010. 
  2. Clark, A H, "Fate of the Clipper Ships", The clipper ship era; An epitome of famous American and British clipper ships, their owners, builders, commanders and crews, 1843-1869, New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, p. 346, 

External links

Images and models

Further reading

Cornell, Edward (1856 May 20-1856 Aug 13.). Journal of a voyage from Liverpool to Melbourne for H.M. Royal Mail Clipper Red Jacket, Captain O'Halloran. Manuscript. 

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