“Our Amazing Visitors”: Catherine Cartwright’s Account of Labrador Inuit in England
Keywords: Labrador Inuit, Tooklavinia, Attuiock, Caubvick, Ickongoque, Ickeuna, George Cartwright, Catherine Cartwright
AbstractNew material about Inuit who visited England in the 18th century was recently discovered in a British archive. Presented here are three letters written in 1773 by Catherine Cartwright, sister of Captain George Cartwright of Labrador fame. The letters describe and discuss the group of five Inuit who came to England with the latter in the autumn of 1772. All of the Inuit party but one died of smallpox at the outset of their return voyage to Labrador early the following summer. A fourth letter, written a year later by an M. Stowe, a family relation, contains information about George Cartwright’s return to Labrador with Caubvick, the lone Inuit survivor. These letters contain new information about the Inuit visit that is both firsthand and enriched with personal observation and opinion. As microhistorical data, the letters contribute to broader historical discussions of Inuit-European relations, Inuit society, Inuit agency in the changing economics of the late 18th century, and the perspectives of Europeans and their fascination with indigenous peoples.