Today is International Day of the Seafarer. The theme this year is #IAmOnBoard with gender equality. Here we have the story of a female seafarer from Ayrshire.
Betsy Miller was born in Saltcoats, 1792. Her life at sea began aboard her father’s ship ‘The Clytus’ following the death of her brother in 1827. When her father Captain William Miller retired in 1847, Betsy became the first female sea captain to be certified by the Board of Trade. She took on the role as master of The Clytus and taking charge of a 14 man crew. This letter was from Elizabeth (Betsy) Miller to James Smith, an agent in Saltcoats while she was aboard The Clytus in 1839 (accession 10/43).
Betsy retired in 1862 and her younger sister Hannah took over the business of the ship. Betsy died in 1864 at the age of 71 and has been remembered as an influential female figure since (newspaper clipping reference ATD1/27).