In honor of the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary, I thought it appropriate to direct your attention to its Maritime Heritage Program. Here you will find a listing of maritime-related national treasures as well as documentation for reporting candidates for inclusion. Parks, historic ships, life-saving stations, and light houses are all featured.
Robert Southey’s Life of Nelson (first British edition, 1813; first United States edition, 1813) has been in print since it was first published; it stands as one of his greatest works. If you want to see the correspondence with his publisher and others over this work, then this selection of letters, well over one hundred, should satisfy.
Although this blog has so far concentrated on things American or British, it is time to let the French speak. The following are works recounting French voyages of exploration:
Amédée-François Frézier. A voyage to the South-sea, and along the coasts of Chili and Peru, in the years 1712, 1713, 1714 (1717 with a postscript by Edmund Halley in which he defends himself against the author’s assertion that his charts are woefully inaccurate). This voyage was essentially one of spying on the Spanish fortifications in the above areas and rendering accurate maps.
Antoine-Joseph Pernety. A history of a voyage to the Malouine (or Falkland) Islands, made in 1763 and 1764…. (a 1771 abridged translation of the 1769 two-volume French edition). The first comprehensive survey of the flora and fauna of the Falklands; the islands were claimed for France.
Jean-Francois de Galaup, comte de la Perouse. A Voyage round the World, Performed in the Years 1785, 1786, 1787, and 1788, by the Boussole and Astrolabe(1798). This was a two-ship expedition sent out to explore the South Seas; both were lost after leaving Botany Bay. This work is based on his reports and observations that went home on another ship.
Three ports are individually profiled with different approaches employed in the ir presentations. Bristol focuses on its role in the slave trade with extensive essays, links, glossary, and a bibliography of secondary sources; London can be explored via time periods as well as by the numerous collections housed at the site, including a featured section on the docks of the city; and Southampton concentrates on the modern era through its collections of 10,000 items online.
“The Sea” is a topical feature of the online Dictionary of National Biography; it contains “The stories of 37 men and women remembered for lives spent on, over, beside, and under the sea.” Among those profiled are the Nore mutineer Richard Parker and naval hero John Crawford. These biographies are well-researched and are based on primary and secondary resources.
Some notable court martial cases include:
Minutes taken at a court-martial, asembled on board His Majesty’s ship Torbay : began the 28th of January, 1744, and ended the 5th of February following, pursuant to an order from the Right Honourable the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, bearing date the 28th of November, 1744, to Vice-admiral Rowley : being an enquiry into the conduct of Captain Richard Norris, in the engagement between the English fleet under the command of Admiral Mathews, and the united fleet of French and Spaniards in the Mediterranean, on the 11th of February, 1743 (1745)
The minutes of a court-martial, held on board His Majesty’s ship the Lenox, in Portsmouth harbour, on the 31st of January last : enquiring into the conduct of the commanders of the Hampton-Court and Dreadnought, for not engaging the Fleuron and Neptune, two French men of war ; together with the depositions and examinations of the officers and men, who were on board the said ships at the time of the chase (1745)
Minutes of the proceedings at the trial of Rear-Admiral Knowles : before a court-martial, held on board His Majesty’s yacht, the Charlotte, at Deptford, for his conduct and behaviour in and relating to an engagement with a Spanish squadron on the first of October, 1748. (1750)
The trial of the Honourable Admiral John Byng, at a court martial, as taken by Mr. Charles Fearne, Judge-Advocate of His Majesty’s Fleet (1757) and Admiral Byng’s defence, as presented by him, and read in the court January 18, 1757, on board His Majesty’s ship St. George, in Portsmouth Harbour. Containing a very particular account of the action on the 20th of May, 1756, off Cape Mola, between the British and French fleets, and the whole proceedings of His Majesty’s fleet during the six days it was off Minorca (1757).
(Interesting note. Keppel’s court martial was brought by charges made by Palliser. The charges against Keppel were dismissed, provoking Palliser to demand a court martial against himself. He, too, was acquited. Look at this dissertation (p.88+) for more information on this dispute.
Bligh’s narrative of the mutiny on board H.M. ship Bounty … : Minutes of the court martial … Bligh’s answer to certain assertions … Edward Christian’s short reply to Captain William Bligh’s answer (1792-94; repr. 1952)
Minutes of a court martial holden on board His Majesty’s ship Prince of Wales, in Portsmouth Harbour : on Monday, the 23rd day of December, 1805, and the three following days, for the trial of Sir Robert Calder, bart., Vice Admiral of the Blue (1805).
Minutes of a court martial, holden on board His Majesty’s ship Gladiator, in Portsmouth Harbour : on Thursday, the 25th day of April, 1805, and the two following days, for the trial of Sir J. T. Duckworth, K.B., Vice Admiral of the Blue (1805?)
The Wellcome Library has undertaken the digitization of part of its massive collection; one of the sections it has put online is Naval Medicine. Dozens of historic monographs are presented here, among them those by three physicians whose work directly improved the health of seamen: Gilbert Blane, James Lind, and Thomas Trotter. Biographies on these three luminaries can be found: Gilbert Blane, James Lind, and Thomas Trotter.
Please read this informative article – The British Navy Rules: Monitoring and Incompatible Incentives in the Age of Fighting Sail – from Explorations in Economic History, 39(2002); 204-31.
Sailing cards …” are significant and distinctive maritime documents. Agents or owners commonly advertised the availability and loading of their vessels in the local newspapers, but by the mid-1850’s the colorful sailing cards began to appear in the windows of shipping firms, banks, and public shops along the waterfronts in ports like New York and Boston. These cards might be printed several days prior to the anticipated departure, in order to secure last-minute cargo or passengers.” (from inventory description). Fully 200 of these cards from the 1850s to the 1870s can be perused online.
American Maritime Documents, 1776-1860 is a work that explores the various forms and records that were an integral part of American shipping. It defines and, in some instances, gives examples of such items as pilot licenses, abstract logs, oaths, etc. It is a very informative guide to the vast engine of paperwork that grew and developed as the maritime trade of the United States became evermore global.