Professor David J Starkey

Professor of Maritime History/ Faculty Academic Manager

Faculty of Arts, Cultures and Education

01482 465882

David J Starkey was the UK's first lecturer in maritime history when he joined the University of Hull in 1994. 

Now Professor of Maritime History, his research interests embrace all aspects of humankind's relationship with the sea, particularly shipping, seafaring, piracy, privateering and the fisheries since the late 17th century.

Professor Starkey, who hails from Merseyside, was awarded a PhD by the University of Exeter for his thesis, British Privateering, 1702-1783, with particular reference to London.

He was once Head of History at Hull (2011-2016), but will always be an Evertonian and the father of four very fine children.


Research Interests

  • The character and significance of the interaction of human societies and the marine environment

  • The maritime interests of localities, regions and nations

  • The significance of privately sponsored violence at sea, both within the law (privateering) and beyond the law (piracy)

  • The factors that have conditioned the scale and character of sea transport since 1750

  • The impact that human fishing activity has had upon the marine environment since the Middle Ages

Research groups

  • Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Maritime History

  • Member, and former Chair, of the British Commission for Maritime History

  • Co-Chair of the North Atlantic Fisheries History Association

  • Founding Director of the Maritime Historical Studies Centre, University of Hull


David J Starkey and Matthew McCarthy, ‘A Persistent Phenomenon: Private Prize-Taking in the British Atlantic World, c.1540-1856’, in Stefan Eklöf Amirell and Leos Müller (eds), Persistent Piracy: Maritime Violence and State-Formation in Global Historical Perspective, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp 131-51, ISBN 978-1-137-35285-9 (2014)

Gelina Harlaftis, Dimitris Dimitropoulos and David J Starkey (eds), Corsairs and Pirates in the Eastern Mediterranean, Fifteenth-Nineteenth Centuries, including David J Starkey, ‘Epilogue: Parasites, Predators and the Historical Process’, pp 161-7, Athens: Sylvia Ioannou Foundation, 173pp, ISBN 978-960-87792-5-9 (2016).

David J Starkey, ‘The Development of Fishing Fleets in the North Atlantic Ocean’, in Christian Buchet and Gérard Le Bouëdec (eds), The Sea in History: The Early Modern World, Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press, in conjunction with Association Océanides, pp 224-34, ISBN 978-1-78327-158-0 (2017)

David J Starkey, ‘Private Enterprise, Public Policy and the Development of Britain’s Seafaring Workforce, 1650-1815’, in Cheryl Fury (ed), The Social History of English Seamen, 1650-1815, pp 147-81, ISBN 978-1-84383-953-8, Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press (2017)

David J Starkey, David Atkinson, Briony McDonagh, Sarah McKeon and Elisabeth Salter (eds), Hull: Culture, History, Place, including David J Starkey, ‘Distant-water Trawlerman: William Oliver, 1884-1959’, pp 206-37, Liverpool University Press, 326pp, ISBN 978-1-78138-419-0 (2017)

Full list


Programmes taught on (2019)

Modules list

  • 90% of Everything: Shipping and Society since 1650

  • Piracy: the Golden Ages

  • Exploring the Past

  • Representing the Past in Film

  • Seafarers, 1800-1914

Research PhDs

Professor Starkey welcomes applications in maritime themes, notably piracy, privateering and shipowning in the 18th and 19th centuries, and North Atlantic fisheries and maritime communities during the recent past.

Completed PhDs 

  • Emma Taaffe, “We suffered in silence”: An analysis of the Cause and Management of Occupational Hazards at Chatham Dockyard, 1945 to 1984

  • Robert Gear, The development of Shetland’s pelagic Fishing Industry, since 1945

  • Matthew McCarthy, A Sure Defence against the Foe?’ Maritime Predation & British Commercial Policy during the Spanish American Wars of Independence, 1810-1830 (Awarded Boydell & Brewer Prize for best Maritime History PhD Thesis, 2011)

  • Stephen Friend, A Sense of Belonging: Religion and Identity in Yorkshire and Humber Fishing Communities, c.1815-1914

Current PhD supervisions 

  • Claire Day, The suit and its travels: The onshore dress of the deep-sea trawlermen of Hull, 1950-1976

  • Meredith Greiling, Maritime Sculpture in Context; British Church Ship Models

  • Joe Varley, The effects of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars on Cork 1790-1820

Professional highlights

Academic qualifications

  • PhD in Economic History, British Privateering, 1702-1783, with particular reference to London, University of Exeter (1985)

  • MA in the History of the Atlantic Economy, University of Exeter (1979)

  • BA (Hons) in Economic History, University of Leeds (1976)