Saturday, January 21, 2012


James Bartley

On Sunday, Claire Butler, who is a member of the state Presbytery, preached the sermon at our church. The message related to the story of Jonah. In the Bible, Jonah was swallowed by a big fish - nothing was said about a whale being involved. During Claire's sermon, she told the story of James Barkley. This was the first time I have heard of this lad. Let me relate the story to you.

James Bartley is the central figure in a major event of the late-19th century and early-20th century according to which he was swallowed whole by a sperm whale.

The story as reported is that during a whaling expedition off the Falkland Islands, Bartley's boat was attacked by the whale and he landed inside the whale's mouth. He survived the ordeal and was carved out of the stomach by his peers when they, not knowing he was inside, caught and began skinning the whale because of the hot weather which would have rotted the whale meat. It was said that he was in the whale for 15 hours and it was also said that his skin had been bleached by the gastric juices, and that he was blind the rest of his life. He was however supposed to have returned to work within three weeks. He died around 11 years later and his tombstone in Ireland says "James Bartley- a modern day Jonah"


The ship usually mentioned is The Star of the East; Also, The Star of the East was a whaling ship sailing around that time.

The French scientist, de Parville, published a report of the alleged incident in the Paris Journal des D├ębats in 1914. More recently the facts have been carefully investigated by historian Edward Davis.


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