A story by John Wilson from Scarborough Sea Dogs by G Forest Frank. John Wilson was made an apprentice but tried to run away to sea against his fathers will
I heard that Mr Hodgson wanted some lads for his barque Lady Wharnecliffe, and I called to offer my services. He agreed if my father would consent, but I knew this was hopeless. I was thinking ruefully over this as I was walking by the harbour side, when Mr George Newby asked me If I would like to be a sailmaker.
I jumped at the idea, and my father cheerfully asented, saying: "If you become a sailmaker, you can still go to sea when you are a man, and be all the better for it, as more than half the art of seamanship is sailmaking and knowing about them.
I took to sailmaking, and in a year or two could sew as much and as well as a man, but was always looking forward to the time when I could go afloat.
One evening, after I had finished work for the day, I was walking down the pier, wearing canvas breeches and glowering at the shipping when I noticed a brig "The Rights of Middelsborough" of Middlesborough, lying windbound in the harbour, and as I was looking at her, the Captain asked me if I wanted a ship.
This was too much for me, and I replied "Yes" He said "Fetch your things, then" and I ran home, made a bundle of clothes up, and went on board. During the night we got out of the harbour, but the wind fell, and we lay becalmed all next day off the town.
My whereabouts had leaked out, and a coble came off at a cost of half a sovereign to my mother, for me to be sent ashore, but the Captain said he would send no one out of his ship at sea. The coble man replied "You'll catch it for this. The boy is one of Mr Tindall's apprentices."
We were bound for London, but a strong southerly wind sprang up, and continued for some days, during which the brig had all her work cut out to beat against it, and we were forced to go into the Humber.
The Captain was a religious old fellow, who had prayers for all hands every night, and he declared I must be a Jonah, and that he daren't take me any further, and put me ashore at Grimsby. My Masters overlooked this little breach, and I returned to work with nothing much said.