John Whitehouse was probably born in 1743, the son of John and Mary Whitehouse.
Possibly, the same John Whitehouse who married Mary Stacy on 18 November 1742 at St. George’s, Mayfair. They had four children beginning with John, who was baptised on 18 November 1743 at St. Clement Danes, on the Strand. Three more children followed, all baptised at St. Dunstan-in-the-West on Fleet Street (Mary in 1744, Sarah in 1746 and Pearce in 1747). Mary Whitehouse (née Stacy) may have died about 1748, as John Whitehouse married a Mary Kidson on 2 April 1750 at St. George’s, Mayfair.
Whitehouse joined the navy about 1759 as an ordinary seaman in HMS St George. He was about 16 years old, and spent two years with the ship under Captains Clark Gayton and James Norman. He then moved to HMS Flamborough, captained by Samuel Thompson, where he remained for another two years as a midshipman.
Thompson moved to HMS Lark in March 1763 and Whitehouse followed. Whitehouse spent the next two summers in Newfoundland waters with this ship. In 1765, he was master’s mate under Lieutenant Ralph Dundas in the St Lawrence schooner based in Halifax. This schooner was one of six purchased the previous year by Alexander, Lord Colvill, Cook’s old captain.
Whitehouse next joined HMS Guernsey, the flagship of Hugh Palliser, who was governor of Newfoundland at the time. This ship was captained by James Chads, one of the heroes of Quebec in 1759. Whitehouse spent two summers in the ship in Newfoundland waters, and formed a close friendship with Joseph Gilbert, the ship’s master. Gilbert later became master of Resolution on Cook’s Second Voyage.
At the end of 1767 Whitehouse passed his lieutenant’s examination.
Whitehouse joined Resolution on 17 December 1771 and, according to the muster, he was 31 years old and from London. Possibly, he joined on the recommendation of his friend the master, Joseph Gilbert. Whitehouse is not mentioned in the narrative for the voyage nor has any journal or log of his survived.
However, John Elliott, in his Memoirs, written in 1813, described Whitehouse as 28 years old and “Jesuitical, sensible but an insinuating litigious mischief making fellow.” He also wrote about his mess mates. “They were: John Whitehouse, Masters mate and Father of the Mess, Richard Grindall, Midshipman; Bowles Mitchell, Mid; and Henry Roberts, Mid... The Father of our own Mess, Mr. Whitehouse, tho very sensible, was very Intriguing, hypocritical, and Mischievious.”
Immediately after the voyage, Whitehouse received his commission as lieutenant on 10 August 1775. He joined HMS Deal Castle in 1776 under Captain James Worth, and they sailed to Newfoundland. Whitehouse then spent time in HMS Resolution (a 74 gun ship, not Cook’s vessel) in 1777. This Resolution, captained by Sir Chaloner Ogle was operating as a guardship. Whitehouse then joined HMS Formidable in February 1778. She was captained by John Bazeley, and acted as the flagship of Hugh Palliser.
When Whitehouse died in 1780 he was second lieutenant in HMS Arrogant, a 3rd rate of 74 guns. He was only 36. His personal situation at that time is a mystery, and somewhat complicated. In his will1he left money to Ann King, a friend in Portsmouth, and everything else was left to his sister, Sarah, who was listed as living in Stanhope Street, Clare Market. Clare Market was situated just north of the Strand and west of Lincoln Inn’s Fields in London. Whitehouse appears to have had a sister called Sarah. However, a will2 for a Sarah Whitehouse of Clare Market proven on 4 January 1786 states that she was the widow of John Whitehouse, who is named therein. His will also mentions a mother-in-law, by which I believe he means his stepmother Mary (née Kidson).
Whitehouse also remembered Joseph Gilbert master in Resolution in his will. “I give to my worthy friend Joseph Gilbert, Master Attendant at Portsmouth, my good stop watch as a small testimony of my esteem for him.”
Lieutenant’s Certificate for John Whitehouse
In pursuance, etc of the 17 December 1767, we have examined Mr. John Whitehouse who by certificate appears to be more than 23 years of age, & find he has gone to sea more than eight years in the Ships and qualities undermentioned (viz)
St. Lawrence schooner
Journals received [not specified]. He produceth Certificates from Captains Gayston, Thompson and Chads and Lieutenant Dundas of his diligence, etc. He can splice, knot, reef a sail, etc and is qualified to do the duty of an Able Seaman and Midshipman. Dated the 2 February 1768.
George Cockburn, Robert Man, Abraham North.
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 47, volume 34, number 4 (2011).
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