Illustration by Juliet Jacobson
The agent was a person who managed some of the shore-side affairs of a whaleship, such as obtaining the men and materials for the voyage, and selling the product of the voyage once the ship returned. Most whaling ships were owned by several different people, called owners or shareholders. Because it would be difficult or impractical for all of the owners to have a say in the day-to-day operations of a whaling voyage, the owners put one person in charge of their ship, and this person was called the agent. Sometimes this agent was also one of the owners, but not always.