Archive for the ‘British’ Category

How Does the House of Lords Work?

September 20, 2017

Customs and Traditions of the House of Lords sheds some light on how this body operates. In a short but informative way, this entity is examined from its inception. Numerous footnotes and appendices help to explain what this institution actually does. For those of us not really familiar with the workings of the House of Lords, this primer really does help. So when we encounter Lord Bombast or Viscount Haughty in our readings, we can place them in context.

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The First Pacific Voyages

September 6, 2017

This 1990 monograph – Background To Discovery: Pacific Exploration from Dampier to Cook – explores the first English and French incursions into the area. Editor Derek Howse has assembled a first-rate team of authors to tell the tales of that era, supplemented by informative notes and explanations.

Officials in Modern Great Britain

July 31, 2017

When I am reading my various British naval fiction series, I sometimes come across office titles that I am not aware of. Thankfully, there is recourse to the multi-volume Office-Holders in Modern Britain, a post-medieval enumeration of who held what office, whether in the Home Office or the Foreign Office or in any of what seem to be innumerable bureaucratic entities. Each volume opens with a brief history of the office in question, followed by a list of appointees, dates where possible, and notes to further sources. These volumes constitute the ONLY published source of this type of information. It can be supplemented by the Database of Court Officers, “…an online computer database providing the career histories of every remunerated officer and servant of the English royal household from the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 to the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837.”

Great Yarmouth in the 19th Century

March 29, 2017

Great Yarmouth was the staging area for the North Sea fleet as well as the jumping off point for the invasion of Denmark during the Napoleonic Wars. Here are several descriptions of the area from 19th century sources:

An Historical guide to Great Yarmouth in Norfolk with the most remarkable events recorded of that town. (2d ed, 1817) by George Manby.

Picture of Yarmouth….(1819)

Historical and Topographical Notices of Great Yarmouth, in Norfolk, and Its Environs  (1826).

Pictorial Guide to Great Yarmouth (1854)

The History of Great Yarmouth (1856) [This is a continuation of The History of Great Yarmouth that was published in 1854 and concerns the earlier years of this area.]

Terms of Naval Armistice That Ended World War 1

March 22, 2017

The full text of the document is here; in it are listed the names of the interned High Seas Fleet ships.

Histories of The Admiralty and Admiralty House

March 14, 2017

In volume 16 of The Survey of London, one will find detailed descriptions, floor plans, and histories of both The Admiralty and Admiralty House; the Admiralty House was built in 1786-88 and became the subsequent residence of the First Lords of the Admiralty.  Of additional value are the listed biographies of First Lords of the Admiralty appended in the “Historical Notes” sections in both entries, giving us brief life histories from 1717-1841.

Online Directories of Merchant Seamen

March 10, 2017

Crew lists of the British Merchant Navy from 1915 have been digitized and made available for free online. Fully 750,000 names from 39,000 crew lists were scanned. (Those numbers alone indicate the sheer size of this service.) You can search by name, vessel, or rank; when you come across an entry, just click on it and you will be directed to the appropriate list online. Other online directories of mariners from Ireland to Australia are also available.

The French Version of Trafalgar

March 7, 2017

In an exercise worthy of the best of alternative history, the French scored a resounding victory over Lord Nelson at Trafalgar. A translated version of this account is found in volume 14 of the Naval Chronicle, commencing on page 377. (I was tempted to add the subject heading “naval fiction”, but I demurred.)

Another Seafaring Dictionary

February 15, 2017

Admiral William Henry Smyth had more than one career – he sailed on a merchantman, then entered the Royal Navy and had numerous exploits during the Napoleonic Wars, undertook a hydrographic expedition of Sicily and the nearby Italian coast, wrote multiple treatises, advanced astronomy to such an extent that he was elected to the presidency of the Royal Astronomical Society, co-found the Royal Geographical Society, wrote biographies, and also was a numismatist. What attracted me to this polymath was his The Sailor’s Word-Book (1867), a posthumous tome that exceeds seven hundred pages. He takes into account loan-words from other languages that English seamen would have been familiar with. Here is his entry from The Dictionary of National Biography written by none other than John Knox Laughton.

 

The Passing of Douglas Reeman

January 24, 2017

This brief note from his wife says it all:

Update 73
Posted by Kimberley Reeman

15 hours ago
 

January 23, 2017

21:30 pm Greenwich Mean Time

“Good night, sweet prince… and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

I will never say good-bye, dearest of men. I will say, I will always love you. I will always be your girl. I will never forget you.

You have their hearts.”

An interview with him can be found here in an issue of Quarterdeck, a publication I encourage all to subscribe to and read. For those of us who came to his works through his Richard Bolitho novels (written as Alexander Kent), I can’t think of a better tribute/introduction to this man than reading The Bolitho Newsletter that appeared with every new Bolitho novel. They are all so informative and average 8-10 pages each full of background information that will inform every devotee of this genre. A bonus is the separate 1994 Bolitho short story – Homecoming – that is available for online perusal.

Here is his obituary from The Times; here is a remembrance from The Old Salt Blog; and here is another by George Jepson from the April 2017 Quarterdeck.

My late father introduced me to Hornblower when I was very young; I was so glad to return the favor by introducing him to the Reeman/Kent novels as they became available. Needless to say, the Hornblowers and Bolithos are in the pride of place in my rather substantial library of British naval fiction. Fair winds and calm seas.