The Hartlepool Monkey

Whatever became of the seafaring monkey who survived a shipwreck and washed up on the shores of old Blighty?

Of all the flotsam and jetsam to find its way ashore in Hartlepool during the Napoleonic Wars, a monkey dressed in the blue and white uniform of a Frenchman had to have been the most unlikely. But with France having trading posts around the globe, the idea of a monkey being aboard one of their ships isn’t as far-fetched as you may first think.

As the story goes, a French ship, believed to have been a trade ship (though the North Sea is an odd place for a vessel of this standing) was wrecked not too far from Hartlepool. It’s believed the monkey was dressed in French regalia for the entertainment of the sailors onboard. Clinging to some flotsam, the seafaring ape rode the tide and found itself on English soil.

Upon discovery, unable to respond to interrogation from the locals, they took it upon themselves to try it on suspicion of being a spy against King and country. The verdict was guilty and thus, the poor creature was hanged by the neck until dead.

Words: Lewis Coupland

You can discover more nuggets of curious history in our 2nd print issue of Ernest Journal, on sale now.