Archive for the ‘British’ Category

Birth of the British Navy

January 11, 2018

The only monarch labeled “the Great”, Alfred was instrumental in having constructed some of the largest oared vessels of his day. Please read the entry for the year 897 in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. John Asser’s contemporary biography of Alfred bears testimony to Alfred’s use of ships in his various battles with the Danes.

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“Christmas at Sea” by Robert Louis Stevenson

December 22, 2017

“The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand;
The decks were like a slide, where a seamen scarce could stand;
The wind was a nor’wester, blowing squally off the sea;
And cliffs and spouting breakers were the only things a-lee.”

The rest is here. To see his tangential connection with the sea, please read this.

How Samuel Pepys Spent Christmas

December 19, 2017

He can be called by many names and guises: one of the great diarists whose eyewitness accounts of the Great Plague and the London Fire of 1666 are still gripping today; the father of the modern British navy; avid collector of books and manuscripts, among his other accomplishments. Dip into his diary to see how he celebrated/observed Christmas

How Admiral Nelson Really Looked

December 13, 2017

Most depictions of Admiral Nelson reflect an idealistic image of Great Britain’s leading sailor; the toll that his wounds took on him are almost always glossed over. A newly restored portrait shows what the rigors of war wreaked upon his visage; it is a sobering realization.

The Funeral of Lord Nelson

October 12, 2017

The hearse carrying Lord Nelson’s coffin is seen below in an 1806 aquatint. Contemporary accounts of the funeral can be found in: Fairburn’s (2nd) edition of the funeral of admiral lord Nelson (1806); [London] Gazette, January 14, 1806; Monthly Mirror, January 1806; and more depictions of the funeral.

(The Funeral Car of our late Vice Admiral  Horatio Viscount Nelson)

Writings of Admiral Samuel Hood

October 11, 2017

Admiral Hood had a long and distinguished career in the Royal Navy, but few of his writings are publicly available. His autobiography (including some correspondence) is contained on pages 1-37 of volume 17 of the Naval Chronicle, and there was an edition of his letters – Letters written by Sir Samuel Hood (Viscount Hood) in 1781-2-3, illustrated by extracts from logs and public records – published in 1895. In addition, scattered official letters from earlier times can be found in Letters to the ministry, from Governor Bernard, General Gage, and Commodore Hood (1769).

However, a new major project – Georgian Papers Online – has uncovered many more letters by this worthy. Identified as Letters from Rear-Adm. Sir Samuel (later Lord) Hood to General Jacob de Budé, including some copies of related correspondence to and from Hood, this source contains writings to and from Hood that have never been available before. While the documents themselves are in various hands, the full descriptions of each letter, as well as transcriptions in some cases, allow the reader to fully appreciate these missives.

 

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.

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.]