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Captain John Melville Keay


1828 - 1918

Record-breaking ships captain. Born in East Green, Anstruther, Keay is known as the captain of the Ariel, a three-masted clipper built in Greenock, which held the record of 83 days for the voyage from Gravesend to Hong Kong against the monsoon. There was great competition between clipper captains at this time, because the first back to London with the new season's tea could raise a much higher price for his cargo than his competitors. In 1866, Keay lost by only minutes the great race from Foochow to London against the Taeping owned by his rival Captain Alexander Rodger (1801-77). However, Keay shared the victory by unloaded his cargo first. A plaque remembers Keay's house in the High Street of Anstruther.


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