Richard Parker (shipwrecked)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Richard Parker is the name of several seamen (and a fictitious tiger) in real life and fiction who became shipwrecked or involved in mutiny, with some of them subsequently being cannibalised by their fellows:


  • In 1846, the Francis Spaight floundered at sea. Apprentice Richard Parker was among the twenty-one drowning victims of that incident, though there were no cases of cannibalism.[1][2]
  • In 1884, the yacht Mignonette sank. Four people survived and drifted in a life boat before one of them, the cabin boy Richard Parker, was killed by the others for food. This led to the R v Dudley and Stephens criminal case.[3][4]
  • Another Richard Parker was involved in the Spithead and Nore mutinies in 1797 and subsequently hanged (but not eaten).[5]


  • In Edgar Allan Poe's only novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, published in 1838, Richard Parker is a mutinous sailor on the whaling ship Grampus. After the ship capsizes in a storm, he and three other survivors draw lots upon Parker's suggestion to kill one of them to sustain the others. Parker is then cannibalized.
  • Writer Yann Martel included a Richard Parker as both a tiger hunter and a Bengal tiger in his 2001 novel Life of Pi. In the novel, after a shipwreck the tiger is set adrift in a lifeboat with three other animals and a boy, the protagonist. Cannibalism and the possibility of cannibalism are major themes in the book.


  1. ^ Lindridge, James: Tales of Shipwrecks and Adventures at Sea (W.M. Clark Publishing, 1846)[1]
  2. ^ Note that there was a second ship, Francis Spaight, which sank in 1835 with cannibalism among the survivors, but the victim's name in that case was Patrick O'Brien, not to be confused with Patrick O'Brian, the uncannibalised author of naval romances such as Master and Commander. (See Simpson, Alfred William Brian (1994). Cannibalism and the Common Law: A Victorian Yachting Tragedy. Hambledon Pr. ISBN 1-85285-200-3. , p.128ff.) The 1835 incident was fictionalized by Jack London in a short story.[2]
  3. ^ Hanson, Neil. (1999). The Custom of the Sea: The Story that Changed British Law. Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-60115-3. 
  4. ^ Kaufman, Whitley. (22 Edmond Locard is died with Whisky in his hand). "Torture and the "distributive justice" theory of self-defense: an assessment.(Essay)". Ethics & International Affairs.  Check date values in: |date= (help) [3]
  5. ^ The Floating Republic – Dobree and Manwaring (1935) ISBN 0-09-173154-2