Driven mad by the sea serpent: the strange case of Captain George Drevar

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In 1881 George Drevar, a merchant captain who had survived a shipwreck in the Cape Verde Islands, was tried at the Old Bailey for libel and threatening the life of the Commissioner of Wreck, Henry Cadogan Rothery, in part because of a disagreement over the existence of the great sea serpent. This article explains the background to the trial, including Drevar’s own sea serpent sightings, the trial’s eventual outcome and some later related events in Drevar’s life. Drevar’s actions seem to have been driven by mental illness caused by the stress of shipwreck coupled with a fervent religiosity with regard to the sea serpent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-323
JournalMariner's Mirror
Issue number3
Early online date20 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Sea serpents
  • Cryptozoology
  • Sea monsters
  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Pauline
  • Norfolk
  • Mental health
  • Sperm whales


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