Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Whelps.

 Wheel of Fortune (The).Whetstone. 
E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Fifth-rate men of war. Thus, in Howell’s letters we read, “At the return of this fleet two of the whelps were cast away”; and in the Travels of Sir W. Brereton we read, “I went aboard one of the king’s ships, called the ninth whelp, which is … . 215 ton and tonnage in king’s books.” In Queen Elizabeth’s navy was a ship called Iron’s Whelp, and her navy was distinguished as first, second … tenth whelp.   1

 Wheel of Fortune (The).Whetstone. 


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