Monday 17 July 2023

The Early Career of Kelsick Wood.


Early Maritime Career of Kelsick Wood (1771 - 1840).

I was first acquainted with this information by John Ferguson who had written about it in Captain Kelsick Wood ... Pub. Cold Harbour, 2021.

Kelsick Wood married Mary Nelson in 1791.1770 - 1792), daughter of Philip Nelson of Birkby, nr. Maryport (b.c.1740) and Ann Sibson (b.c.1740), on 6 Aug 1791 at Cross Canonby, Cumberland. They had one


Kelsick married Mary Inman, daughter of John Inman and Mary Postlethwaite in 1796.

The Kelsick Wood Journal no 2, page 23. This Journal is one of the three still in private hands. There three more - one with the Maryport Maritime Museum, and two with the National Maritime Museum (one of these can hardly be considered as a journal - it is more of a sketch bookI have copies of all three of these journals.

 Transcribed by Dr John Crerar (d.1954) of Maryport, 

From Carlisle Records Office - Carlisle D/Cr/25. 

Extracts from Kelsick Woods pocketbook transcribed by Dr John Crerar indicated that in 1793 he was firstly in charge of the Maria a 189 ton vessel built by William Wood of Maryport and launched in that year at a prime cost of £2144. Its voyages and profits were set out by him as follows:


March 30 By 1st voyage to Dublin £133 -19 – 2

May 1 By 2nd voyage to Belfast 12 - 3 - 0

July 4 By 3rd voyage to Dublin 99 -15-11

Sept 2 By 3rd voyage to Dublin 111 - 2 -10

Nov 30 By 4th voyage to Dublin 58 - 6 - 6


 Jan 10 By 6th voyage to Dublin 94 -12 - 9

 March 30 By 7th voyage to Dublin 48 -15-10

 Oct 26 By 8th voyage to Belfast?

 ?? St Petersburgh to Dublin ¦ 422 - 7 - 8


Nov 17 By 9th voyage to Cork 43 - 5 - 4


 March - By Limerick & Liverpool 114 -13 - 0

 Oct 1 - By Quebec & London 725 - 6 - 5

1796 By Scheme Insurance ?? 168 - 0 - 0

 March 30 By sale of Maria 2500 - 0 - 0

 £4532 - 8 – 3



To Prime cost of said vessel, built by William Wood, Maryport £2144

To loss on voyage London to Dublin 139 - 9 - 2

Cost wood sheathed £11 - 8 - 9 per ton

 To balance 2248 -19 - 3

 £4532 - 8 - 3

Prime cost 1/16 £131 -10 - 0

For Profits by ?? 1/16 £283 - 5 – 6




The Postlethwaite was built by WILLIAM and THOMAS WOOD of African teak, which was stronger than British oak, at the Wood yard, Maryport. It was first registered on 10 April 1797. It was a rigged vessel with one deck and three masts with a figurehead and Qtr Badges. It was of 258 tons, maximum height 91 ft 0 ins, maximum width 26 ft 0 ins, square sterned and hold 26 ft 0 ins deep. It cost £3740 to build.

After it was launched in 1797 it had ten owners:

William Wood, Gentleman, Maryport - Captain Kelsick Wood's uncle.

Philip Nelson, Gentleman, Maryport - father of Captain Kelsick Wood's first wife.

Robert Ritson, Sailmaker, Maryport.

John Inman, Mariner, Maryport. (Father of KW’s second Wife)

Wilfred Smith, Mariner, Maryport.

Fletcher McKenzie, Mariner, Maryport - Captain Kelsick Wood's brother-in-


Richd Askew, Mercht, Harrington. - Richard Askew succeeded Andrew Green at The Ropery, Harrington.

 The firm becoming Askew, Ellwood & Co. &expanded into ship building in 1783.

Robert Ferguson, Mercht, Carlisle - Captain Kelsick Wood's brother-in- law.

Peter Dixon, Mercer, Whitehaven - married to Robert Ferguson's sister Mary.

Joseph Stamper, Surgeon, Workington. - Dickinson & Jos. Stamper, Surgeons, Brow Top, Workington.

The Master of the Postlethwaite is named as Kelsick Wood.




Kelsick Wood's pocket-book (CRO Carlisle D/Cr/25) regarding the voyages of the Postlethwaite, for which he was the the Master (Captain) records:

1797: June, Aug & Oct - Dublin, Dec - Kinsale. Profit £268 -1s-9d.

1798: March - Waterford & Liverpool, July - Belfast. Profit £233-18s-8d.

1799: Nov - Prison ship at Belfast. Profit £1016-3s-7d.

1800: Dec - Martinico (Martinique) & London. Profit £85-2s-2d.

1801 & 1802: - no recorded voyages.

1803: Oct - Transport Service (Government). Profit £3919-8s-0d.

1804: July - Memel (Baltic port now named Klaipeda, Lithuania). Profit £24-11s-6d.

The vessel was then sold for £2800

Over six years of trading, the total generated income from the Postlethwaite £8347-5s-8d.


The Cumberland Pacquet, 28 May 1798, reported that the Postlethwaite, with Kelsick Wood as its Master, was bound for Belfast. On 19 Jun 1798, it confirmed that Kelsick Wood was the Master of the Postlethwaite, when it reported on the 1798 Irish Rebellion:

"Rebellion in Ireland. .. .. .. Further particulars of the engagement near Belfast on 12th and 13th inst. On the fifth day the rebels had 900 killed; their loss on Wednesday was greater: the whole is supposed to amount to some 1000s. Several vessels, belonging to our northern ports were impressed to carry troops from Port Patrick to Belfast. The Clementina of Maryport, is full of wounded rebels, who fled during the engagement of Tuesday, and were afterward taken by the Highlanders sent in pursuit of them.

These are from authentic letters, written at

Port Patrick, the 14th and 15th instant.

Extract of letter from CAPTAIN KELSICK WOOD Of Maryport, to Mr PETER DIXON of this town [Whitehaven]:- dated at Port Patrick 15 June 1798

'I was boarded by the Doris frigate, in the Lough, who desired me, if I saw any colliers, to beg they would be on their guard as there are a great number of pirates out - three of which have been taken and condemned. They have plundered several.' "

Note: The Doris was a 36 gun frigate, launched Gravesend 1795, wrecked in 1805.

The Postlethwaite entry for 1798 specifies that the vessel sailed to Belfast in July which is confirmation that Kelsick wrote a letter to Peter Dixon from Port Patrick referring to this voyage, at the time of the 1798 Irish Rebellion. The following year, 1799, the Postlethwaite was acting as a prison ship for the Irish rebels at Belfast.

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