Filed under naval history

A Rebel Redeemed

A Rebel Redeemed

Robert Walpole passed the Black Acts in response to poaching in windsor Forest in the early 18th century. The law should have been a short term one, but was not repealed till many decades later. A wide range of former misdemeanors or traditional rights were converted to capital punishments, but they were often converted to … Continue reading

Sham Execution

This is an event from Bristol in October 1780, an incredibly well organised protest against senior naval officers, and unusual for its lack of violence and drunkenness which the city was so famous for: Thursday afternoon at a stigma on some commanders who have not deserved the high encomiums justly due tot the Lord Cornwallis, … Continue reading

Jane Fawcett, Bletchley Park Codebreaker, RIP

This is from the i paper : Jane Fawcett was still in her teens when she received a letter from a friend in February 1940 … “I’m at Bletchley and it’s perfectly frightful,” her friend wrote. “We’re so overworked, so desperately busy. You must come and join us.” Fluent in German and driven by curiosity, … Continue reading

Landscape and Admirals

This is a truly bizarre tale from The York Herald in 1806, and I can’t imagine any explanation for it: “It is with satisfaction we learn that the County of Norfolk, ingratitude and affection to the memory of its dear, departed Nelson, has determined to place its column of commemoration at the native spot of … Continue reading

A Lonely Grave

One of the great horror stories from the age of exploration is that of the Wreck of the Batavia, which is Australia’s most famous shipwreck. The Dutch East India ship foundered off the coast of West Australia and most of those on board survived, in 1629, but when some of the officers went off to … Continue reading

A Drunken Sailor

In 1735,John Brown was a mate of the Glasgow, found one at to be ‘very drunk…could give no account of the ship’s way from 12 noon till 8 at night, & told captain he could stick his log book up his a***.

Astronomy and the Sea

The book I’m slowly swimming through, shaping Time, is slow work because it keeps making me think of other things it highlights. Like the fact that accurate astronomy was known by the ancients, almost 2,000 years ago, but for most of European history, sailors relied on deep local knowledge and guess work. If they used … Continue reading

Importance of Landmarks

Most early mariners were more local pilots, sailing in a straight-ish line, then following the coast till they spotted something they recognised, so landscape was immensely important to them, not just shape of the byes etc, but forests, rocks, church towers. Damage or removal of some of these caused so much loss of life and … Continue reading