Friday, December 30, 2016

Punch Bowl, c.1765

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Punch bowl, William Jackson, c.1770, Victoria and Albert Museum.

Jackson's distinctive sails are once again on display in this punch bowl. As the guns of this ship do not cross through her wide body, I am inclined to think her a well armed merchantman, and perhaps another of his slavers. There are no air holes cut in the hull, but not all of his slave ships depict this.

Along the exterior of the punch bowl are symbols of martial prowess: helmets, shields, and spears, and the figurehead is an ancient warrior girded for battle. This would strongly indicate that the ship shown here is intended to be a warship and not a slaver.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Forward of the foremast are a pair of tars busy at work. They wear trousers, jackets, and what appear to be cocked hats with short brims.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Further aft are two more mariners in the same dress. These hats may be variously interpreted as cocked or round, but there is too little detail to be certain.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A frigate taking in sail, c.1780

A Frigate Taking in Sail, artist unknown (William Jackson?), c.1780, National Maritime Museum via Art UK.

Neither the National Maritime Museum nor Art UK identifies the artist of this piece. I postulate that it was the artist William Jackson. Jackson is mostly known for painting slave ships, but not exclusively. The sails on this piece are painted in Jackson's distinctive style, and given that it was painted during his active years, I would guess (though not guarantee) that it is him. Compare this piece to that of a Liverpool slave ship in the collection of the International Slavery Museum and you can see for yourself the similarities.

Unlike his slave ship paintings, this does appear to be a commissioned frigate. Sporting top armor guns much closer to the waterline, and no vents cut for the enslaved below decks, this is a ship fitted out for war and not profit.

The crew are clad in blue breeches and a mix of round hats and cocked hats, with both blue and red jackets. You can see the captain gesturing to the crew from just forward of the mizzen mast.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Jenny and Rose: Betrayal

This is part three of the Race, Revolt, and Piracy series on the slave ships Jenny and Rose. You can find part one here, and part two here.

Though separated by twenty years, the Jenny and the Rose encountered remarkably similar events. Both sailed from Liverpool during a time of war to take on hundreds of enslaved people in Africa and then make the Middle Passage for the Caribbean. Both were attacked by fourteen gun French privateers armed with stink pots and only fended them off with a desperate resistance by both the white crew and armed, enslaved men.

Further coinciding these stories is the fate of the enslaved men who saved the lives and fortunes of their captors: those who survived were sold into slavery.

The Port of Entry records for Annapolis show the Jenny arriving in Maryland on July 15, 1760 with "333 Negroes."[1]

The same edition of the Maryland Gazette that announces the arrival of the Jenny posts an advertisement for the sale of "A parcel of choice, healthy slaves, consisting of men, women, boys and Girls."[2] For months the advertisements continued, until on November 29, 1760, the Jenny set sail for England with a new cargo of tobacco, barrel staves and heading, and iron.[3]

Just as the merchants Ringgold and Galloway wanted to assure the public that the enslaved were "healthy" and undamaged by the battle, so too did Captain Stevenson. He assured his reader that the six enslaved men wounded by the crew of the Mould "will recover."[4] Wounded slaves would have earned Stevenson and the owner of the Rose less money. Regardless of their state, all of the enslaved people of the Rose were sold in Kingston, Jamaica.[5]

Planning to sell the very men who had saved them does not draw any circumspection from the writings of Wilkinson nor Stevenson. Wilkinson demonstrated his admiration of the enslaved who fought for him, while also emphasizing their obedience, when he wrote that they "all behaved well, and laid down their Arms as soon as the Engagement was over."[6]

This detail is omitted from the description of events he gave to the South Carolina Gazette a few weeks before.[7] Perhaps he chose to say as much in the Maryland Gazette to assuage the fears of potential buyers that their new property might be capable of fighting back.

It is unclear precisely how the enslaved of both the Rose and Jenny were disarmed, and we have only Wilkinson's word on the end of his engagement. Sadly, without the words of any enslaved person involved in either of these conflicts, we are reduced to pure speculation on why they chose to defend their captors, how they came to be disarmed, and why they did not make a subsequent attempt to seize the ships.

The Jenny and Rose share another thing in common: on their very next voyages, they were both captured.[8]

[1] Maryland State Archives, Port of Entry Records: Annapolis Inbound, July 15, 1760.
[2] Maryland Gazette, July 17, 1760, page 2.
[3] Maryland State Archives, Port of Entry Records: Annapolis Outbound, November 29, 1760.
[4] London Chronicle, July 10-12, 1781, page 2.
[5] Slave Voyages Database,, Voyage Identification Number 83406, Accessed 12/16/2016.
[6] Maryland Gazette, July 17, 1760, page 2.
[7] South Carolina Gazette, June 14, 1760, page 2.
[8] Slave Voyages Database,, Voyage Identification Numbers 90947 and 83407, Accessed 12/16/2016.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Jenny and Rose: Yardarm to Yardarm

This is part two in the Race, Revolt, and Piracy series on the slave ships Jenny and Rose. You can find part one here.

Like the Jenny, the Rose was a Liverpool based slaver sailing into a worldwide conflict. Captained by William Stevenson, Rose was bound out at a time of great strife in the British war effort. Jenny faced danger, but her crew could at least comfort themselves with knowing the Seven Years War was going their way. Victories ashore and afloat seemed to have little effect on the overall course of the American Revolutionary War, which was entering its waning years. Stevenson still had to turn a profit for the ship's owner, Joseph Caton, and so steered her to Cape Coast Castle. Here they embarked 250 enslaved people and set course for Kingston, Jamaica.[1]

The Southwell Frigate Tradeing on ye Coast of Africa, attributed to
Nicholas Pocock, date unknown, Bristol Museums

Stevenson sailed for forty seven days without incident, but on April 15, 1781, off the southeast end of Jamaica, was attacked by a French privateer. She was the Mould, a fourteen gun sloop out of Cape Nichola Mole in Haiti, crewed by eighty five men. Exchanging broadsides and small arms fire, the Mould and Rose went shot for shot, "but her intention was for boarding us ; he at last came up on our starboard quarter, with a stink-pot fast to the end of his gaff." As with the Jenny, Stevenson armed the enslaved men aboard his ship, and it proved to be a decisive move in the battle: "one of the Trantree slaves shot [the stink pot] away with his musket."

The Battle of Ouessan, James Gillray, 1790, Walpole Library.

Even without the noxious cover of the stink pot's fumes and fire, the Mould grappled the Rose and for over an hour the two vessels slugged it out. Three times over the course of the battle the after half of the Rose caught fire when "the Frenchmen hove such a large quantity of powder flasks on board." After losing his shirt to the flames, Captain Stevenson's shoulder was shot clean through by a musket ball. The battle was a desperate one, with the slaves and sailors of the Rose throwing "half-pikes, boathooks, boat-oars, steering-sail yards, fire-wood, and slack-ballast...amongst the Frenchmen."

At last, the Mould swung away back to Haiti, leaving the Rose to sail safely into Kingston the following day.

The fight was a deadly one. Aside from Captain Stevenson's wound, a white man named Peter Cane was killed, an enslaved man mortally wounded, and eleven wounded men, six of whom were enslaved. Stevenson's account implies that they were particularly subject to wounding from the fires that struck the Rose "having no trowsers on them."[2]

Next time: The rewards for defending a slave ship.

[1] Slave Voyages Database,, Voyage Identification Number 83406, Accessed 12/16/2016.
[2] London Chronicle, July 10-12, pages 1-2.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Jenny and Rose: A Sea of Conflict

"Blood streamed plentifully out of the privateer's scuppers."[1]

Danger defined the 1760 voyage of the slave ship Jenny.

Based in Liverpool, the full rigged ten gun Jenny was captained by Captain John Wilkinson. He and his crew of twenty or thirty five were casting off from England and into an ocean divided between warring powers.[2] It was the fourth year of the Seven Years War, and the sixth of the French and Indian War. Britain and her German allies wrestled with the French and Spanish on the European continent, while the French and British colonists fought in North America among a tangled web of alliances between native peoples.

This was perhaps the first truly global conflict. Battles raged on land in Europe, India, North and South America, and with naval engagements from the Pacific to the Mediterranean. Many merchant vessels had been taken by both sides. Roving privateers and letters of marque joined the commissioned naval vessels of major European powers to snatch up whatever prizes they could take.

Through these dangerous waters Wilkinson guided his vessel to Africa. The Portuguese had long had a foothold in Angola and Congo, and sold off enslaved people from major ports like Cabinda. It was from here that the Jenny departed with nearly 400 enslaved people in her hold.[3]

Detail from "Newly Arrived Enslaved Africans, Surinam, 1770s," Image Reference NW0265
 as shown on www.slaveryimages.orgcompiled by Jerome Handler and Michael Tuite, and 
sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library

After departing on March 4, 1760, Wilkinson led the Jenny across the Atlantic for an uneventful eight weeks. Wilkinson and his crew well knew that each passing day brought them closer to the prowling grounds of privateers. Confronting one of these vessels was to be their fate.

On April 29th, at approximately 12.58° North Latitude and 46.1° West Longitude, the Jenny was attacked by a fourteen gun French privateer sloop.[4] 

Detail from Thomas Luny's painting of a merchant ship signaling off Dover,
1793, Wikimedia Commons.

The determined Frenchman, "full of men," attacked the Jenny and "was received so warmly that she was twice beat off."[5] Finding her a tough nut to crack, the French captain got creative. His crew affixed "Stink-pots at her Jib-boom End."[6]

John Hamilton Moore, in his The Practical Navigator, and Seaman's New Daily Assistant, describes the stink pot as thus:
The Boarder is generally furnished with an earthen Shell, called a Stink-pot, which, on that occasion, is suspended from his Yard-arms or Bowsprit end. The Machine is also charged with Powder mixed with other inflammable and suffocating Materials, with a lighted Fuse at the Aperture. Thus prepared for the Action, and having grappled his Adversary, the Boarder displays his Signal to begin the Assault ; the Fuses of the Stink-pot and Powder-flasks being lighted, they are immediately thrown upon the Deck of the Enemy, where they burst and catch Fire, producing an intolerable Stench and Smoke, and filling the Deck with Tumult and Distraction ; amdist the Confusion occasioned by this infernal Apparatus, the Detachment provided rush aboard Sword in Hand, under Cover of this Smoke, on their Antagonist, who is in the same Predicament with a Citadel stormed by the Besiegers, and generally overpowered, unless he is furnished with extraordinary Means of Defence, or equipped with Close-quarters, to which he can retreat with some probability of Safety.[7]
Stink-pots were certainly unpleasant, and could also be lethal. On September 7, 1759, the ship Britannia was attacked off Cape Maize by a French sloop. Captain George Massum later wrote that "a stink-pot at her jib-boom being run over our stern, dropped on the quarter deck, and killed the first mate."[8]

Wilkinson's options were limited. He was outgunned and outmanned. Moore gives two options: "Close-quarters, to which he can retreat with some probability of Safety," or an "extraordinary Means of Defence."

As a slave ship, the Jenny probably did have a barricado that could serve as a safe barrier between her crew and the boarders. It was, after all, designed to prevent a ship from being taken by her cargo. As the Marlborough revolt proved, a barricado is only useful if your enemy is on the proper side of it. Given subsequent reports, it appears that the privateer sloop may have been coming up on Jenny's stern. This would be the most logical place to drop a stink pot, as it would disable the helmsman and captain. From this angle, a barricado was useless as "Close-quarters."

This reduced Wilkinson to the second option, an "extraordinary Means of Defence." Widely reported after the fact, Wilkinson took the dangerous step of arming fifty of the enslaved men he had taken as cargo. The French sloop tried to sheer away from her final attack, but "her Topping-lift got foul of the Jenny's sprit-Sail Yard ; and had it not been for a Mistake of his Helm's-man, [Wilkinson] believes he should have taken the privateer." After six and a half hours of combat, the sloop bore away, while "Blood streamed plentifully out of the privateer's scuppers."[9]

Next time: A generation after the Jenny, the Rose repeats history.

[1] Boston Evening Post, July 28, 1760, page 2
[2] Slave Voyages Database,, Voyage Identification Number 90767, Accessed 9/16/2016.
[3] Ibid.
[4] South Carolina Gazette, June 14, 1760, page 2; longitude determined by Michael Romero. I want to emphasize again that these measurements are approximations.
[5] Maryland Gazette, July 17, 1760, page 2.
[6] South Carolina Gazette, June 14, 1760, page 2.
[7] John Hamilton Moore, The Practical Navigator, and Seaman's New Daily Assistant,  Eighth Edition, B. Law: London, 1784, via Google Books, page 251.
[8] John Entick, The General History of the Late War, Volume V, Edward Dilly: London, 1764, via Google Books, page 69.
[9] South Carolina Gazette, June 14, 1760, page 2.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Shipping at Spithead, c.1770's

Shipping at Spithead, Francis Holman, date unknown (1770's?), John Bennett Fine Paintings via Online Art Gallery.

Francis Holman paints a pleasant scene of various vessels in a steady breeze off Spithead. A sixty gun ship of the line with her starboard guns broadside to us is lateen rigged on her mizzenmast and blue ensign run up. Just peeking behind the sail of the Thetis sloop is the top armor of a frigate. Otherwise the vessels in the scene are merchantmen.

The Thetis is a swift little sloop with two fellows crowded in the back by the coxswain (I say coxswain and not helmsman because I see no wheel and assume there to be a tiller). One of these men is apparently not a sailor. His frock coat appears rose in color, but matches the hue of the red ensign at Thetis' stern, and so is probably intended to be red. He wears a tightly bound queue and his wig is clubbed. Sitting across from him is a man in a red frock coat and gold or yellowish brown single breasted waistcoat. Both gentlemen have round hats. It is these men who give me my tentative date for this piece, as their fashions are in line with those of the 1770's. I am no expert in the clothing of gentlemen from the period, so I welcome all feedback in settling the general period in which this painting was likely completed.

The coxswain wears a round hat as well with a crown somewhere between cylindrical and rounded. He wears a blue jacket and has a short queue. Sailors wearing queues are remarkably uncommon for my period of study, and so this is notable.

Near the bow of the Thetis is another sailor with a round hat, whose brim is being turned up by the wind. He wears a single breasted blue jacket, red waistcoat, and white neckcloth. His white trousers are striped vertically in thin blue lines.

Further left in the frame is a boat with four sailors aboard. Two of these men sit at their leisure, one smoking a pipe. The smoking man wears a brown jacket, a round hat with rounded crown, and blue breeches. It appears that he might be wearing a white neckcloth, but I wouldn't swear to it.

His mate wears a jockey style barge cap, red jacket with slit waist pockets, and a plain pair of trousers.

Further forward in the small boat are two men working. Each wears a blue jacket and a pair of plain trousers. The fellow working at the small mast and sail wears a round hat, while his mate wears what might be a cap or a round hat with very narrow and upturned brim.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A New Sea Quadrant, 1748

A New Sea Quadrant, George Adams, 1748, Houghton Library, Harvard University via Capitu Tumblr.

George Adams entered the navigational instrument business at an early age, apprenticing under James Parker before opening his own shop in 1738. Ten years later he had developed a new instrument for taking latitudinal readings. Intended to be more versatile than the backstaff and less expensive than the octant, Adams' quadrant did not eclipse the recently invented octant, nor did it survive the growth of the soon to be invented sextant. There is only one surviving example of his invention, which now resides in the collection of the Mariners' Museum and Park in Newport News, Virginia.

Courtesy of The Mariners’ Museum and Park, Newport News, VA

In advertising his creation, Adams depicts a common sailor lifting the device to his eye and sighting the horizon. The choice of a common sailor may have been to emphasize ease of use.

He wears a simple cocked hat with a button loop on the left side and no binding. Under his short hair is a plaid neckcloth stuffed into the uppermost buttonhole of his jacket.

The cuffs of his single breasted jacket are open, with only one of the three buttons in place. At his waist is a flap pocket turned vertically. This is the first time I've seen such an arrangement on a sailor's jacket. His waistcoat is plain and single breasted.

Ending just above the bottom of his calf, our sailor's trousers are held at the waist with a simple two button closure. He wears white stockings and pointed toe shoes with roughly rectangular buckles.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Sailor's Moan for the Loss of his Love, date unknown

The Sailor's Moan for the Loss of his Love, artist unknown, date unknown, Lewis Walpole Library.

Through a dull rhyming scheme, the poet of The Sailor's Moan tells the story of an unfortunate tar returning home from the 1741 Battle of Cartagena to find that the women he loved has married "a rich old Miser for life." It is such a poorly crafted piece that the printer ran out of paper on the tenth stanza and so had to write in the last word of the third line by hand. The stilted prose is nothing to write home about, and neither is the primitive woodcut atop this broadside.

A sailor rows another figure in a small boat. The details are so sparse that I'm not entirely sure if the figure on the left is male or female, much less what occupation they might hold.

The oarsman appears to be in shirtsleeves and wears a barge cap of the jockey style. Given the quality of this engraving, those conclusions are certainly open to challenge. Perhaps this can serve as something of a Rorschach test for the examination of sailor's clothing. What do you see?

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Landing at Middleburgh, one of the Friendly Islands, 1777

Landing at Middelburgh, one of the Friendly Islands, engraved by J.K. Sherwin after William Hodges, 1777, David Rumsey Map Collection.

I covered Hodges' original painting back in October. Hodges actually sailed with Captain Cook, and so is an unusually reliable source for examining common sailors' clothing. It is likely that each figure in his works are based on particular sailors of Cook's expedition.

Usually when I come across a print or colorization that is a copy of an original, I include them in the same post. Given that Hodges is such a reliable source, and this engraving make some significant changes to the appearance of the common sailors, I have decided to treat them separately.

One of Sherwin's more obvious departures from Hodges is his depiction of the sailor on the bow. While Hodges' man sports a slight smile and more relaxed grip, Sherwin's mariner is evocative of the coxswain in Watson and the Shark. Sherwin's sailor has loose hair blown in a breeze that doesn't effect anyone else in the print. Both sailors wear the same outfit: shirtsleeves and single breasted jacket rolled up well above the elbows, no waistcoat, a small round hat with narrow brim, and a plain pair of petticoat trousers without breeches beneath.

This resurrects the ongoing debate over whether sailors wore breeches beneath their slops. Clearly Sherwin does not think so. Hodges' image is less clear, but could legitimately be interpreted as such.

Sherwin's sailors are superficially dressed similarly to the men in Hodges' original. Round hats abound (though of more rounded crowns than the conical ones Hodges depicts), rolled up shirtsleeves, and a patterned neckcloth. There are a couple of key differences. The two men sitting in the boat are shown wearing jackets or sleeved waistcoats, while Hodges shows them in waistcoats. Further, one of the two men in the water is not a sailor but a gentleman with white clubbed hair, a frock coat, and cravat.

The coxwain looks considerably different as well. He wears petticoat trousers , an open jacket and shirt with a loosely tied neckcloth that is oddly knotted behind his head, and a floppy brimmed round hat with conical crown.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Battle of the Saintes, 1782

The Battle of the Saintes, Thomas Whitcombe, 1782, Richard Green Fine Art.

The defeat of the French fleet under Admiral de Grasse was one of the few bright spots in the otherwise disastrous American Revolutionary War for the British. As such, it was given a prominent place in art. Whether it was a heroic tragedy echoing The Death of General Wolfe, celebrating the capture of Admiral de Grass in historical prints and caricature, the Battle of the Saintes has been depicted time and time again in art of the period. It would eventually be overshadowed by the monumental victories of the Royal Navy in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, but in the years of peace that followed America's independence, it was this battle that the Navy could point to with pride.

Whitcombe populates the ships with sailors, but we see the vessels at a considerable distance. So there is little we can say about them except that they wear blue jackets.

There is somewhat more detail given to the men crowding a small boat in the foreground. The oarsmen are uniformly dressed in shirtsleeves and barge caps, pulling hard. Crowded int he stern are officers and men waving their round and cocked hats in celebration.

Monday, December 12, 2016

'The Royal Family,' c1746

'The Royal Family,' Charles Brooking, c1746, Richard Green Fine Art.

Portrait of Commodore George Walker, artist unknown, c1750, National Maritime Museum.
George Walker, pictured here, commanded a squadron of privateers in the War of Austrian Succession that were collectively known as "The Royal Family." Each of the four vessels was named for a royal: King George (the flagship, appropriately enough), Prince Frederick, Princess Amelia, and the far less specific Duke. Crewed by nearly a thousand men, these four vessels wreaked havoc on Spanish and French shipping from Nova Scotia to the English Channel.

Most famously, the squadron was part of the battle against the 70 gun Glorioso. Unbeknownst to Walker, the Glorioso had already deposited her cargo of four million dollars in Lisbon when his squadron attacked her at 8:00 AM on an October morning, beginning a battle that would run, almost continuously, for twenty five hours. Two Royal Navy ships joined the chase and fight, one of which (the 50 gun Dartmouth) was destroyed in the process.

When Glorioso was taken, it was discovered she had no treasure, but was nonetheless hauled into port.

Brooking painted the "Royal Family" at work in two separate paintings now available for sale at Richard Green Fine Art. The one features here depicts them sailing in a stiff wind on an open sea.

Brooking often includes sailors in his paintings, but his focus has always been the ships themselves, and so details are scant on the men.

On the weather deck of this small vessel are a pair of sailors at work. One wears a blue jacket, the other a grey or light brown jacket and white trousers with vertical blue stripes.

Sailing away to her larboard is a small skiff with five men aboard.

Two of the men in the stern wear reversed cocked hats. The mariner amidships wears a round hat with a rounded crown, and the man further forward wears what appears to be a barge cap. There is again a mix of blue, brown, and grey jackets.

A sharp eyed observer will note that Charles Brooking signed his name along the starboard side of the skiff.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

His Majesty Reviewing the Fleet at Spithead, 1773

His Majesty Reviewing the Fleet at Spithead, John Cleveley the Elder, 1773, Richard Green Fine Paintings.

In contrast to his son's piece, John Cleveley the Elder takes his penchant for populating his paintings with people and amps it up. Even though the event itself was about the fleet, the entire Royal Navy is relegated to the background and the focus is entirely on the crowd. Cleveley is known for his accurate depiction of ships, due in part to his training as a shipwright, and so it is at least a little surprising that he chose instead to show the diverse people gathered to watch the greatest gathering of warships in a generation.

Among the crowd is a pocket of sailors. To the right at the corner of the parapet are  four tars watching the show. Furthest to the right is a mariner in a wide brimmed and conical crowned round hat, a red jacket with three vents, and a dark pair of trousers. Standing beside him is a sailor wearing a round hat with a short brim and rounded crown, a brown jacket with a single vent, and dark trousers (maybe brown) ending above the ankle. Two more sailors sit nearby. One wears a round hat pinned up on one side, a triple vented brown jacket with slit cuffs, and trousers that might be white or grey. The other wears a cocked hat, and a grey double vented jacket. All three sailors appear to be wearing bob wigs.

The bargemen themselves appear to be without bargemen's uniforms, but wearing normal slop clothes. Cocked hats, round hats, and various colored jackets abound.

George III Reviewing the Fleet at Spithead, 1773

George III Reviewing the Fleet at Spithead, John Cleveley the Younger, 1773, National Maritime Museum.

It was not common (though not unheard of) for a reigning monarch of Britain to review the fleet in the eighteenth century. This particular event lasted four days in 1773, during which the Cleveley family had plenty of time to practice their painting. John the Elder also painted the review, though from a distinctly different perspective.

The sailors of the Royal Oak stand on the yards in a ceremonial display. While the colors are more muted, John's work here is reminiscent of his father's The Arrival of Princess Charlotte at Harwich. All the men aloft wear white trousers and blue jackets.

Aside from a single skiff in which the crew are all clad in blue jackets and round hats, the barge procession is rowed entirely by oarsmen in black barge caps and shirt sleeves.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Spermacaeti whale brought to Greenland Dock, 1762

The Spermacaeti whale brought to Greenland Dock 1762, artist unknown, 1762, National Maritime Museum.

In the cold waters of the North Atlantic, a small squadron of whalers deploy the boats to harpoon their prey. Driven up onto the ice is a surprisingly clean looking whale corpse. The artist is likely depicting a particularly sizable whale, one worthy of capturing on paper.

The first thing I noticed in this piece was the anachronistic flag on the whaler in the left of the frame.

The French tricolor flag did not exist until the Revolution, and so would not have been flown on a whaler in 1762. A closer look reveals that the flag is actually the Union Jack, and that some subsequent colorist sought to re-brand the original image at at later date. If not for obvious anachronisms like this, it would be nearly impossible to tell when a colorist comes along later. This is one of the pitfalls in relying solely on primary source images in a study such as mine. Always be open to questioning your sources and rounding out your knowledge with other sources.

Our sailors are clad in blue and red jackets, cocked hats, and round hats.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Squintums Farewell to Sinners, 1760

Squintums Farewell to Sinners, M. Darly, 1760, Yale University.

Darly's caricature shows the reaction of a diverse crowd to the sermonizing of Squintums, a stand in for the famous preacher George Whitefield.

Notorious for their supposed irreligious nature, it was appropriate for Darly to include a sailor in his representation. The unnamed tar speaks to an attractive lass, "I wish Nancy I had him in the Round top Id make him Dance a Hornpipe to my whistle."

The sailor himself is dancing as he speaks, with the trusty stick tucked under his left arm. A cocked hat with a cockade on the left side is fixed atop his bob wig. Around his neck is a neckcloth or cravat tucked into his shirt, and he is without a waistcoat. The jacket has slit cuffs and runs down to the top of the thigh. His trousers are plain and end at the bottom of the calf.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

A View of Gibraltar with the Spanish Battering Ships on Fire, 1784

A View of Gibraltar with the Spanish Battering Ships on Fire, engraved by J.K. Kerwin and published by J.K. Kerwin and William Hinton, 1784, British Museum.

Late in the Great Siege of Gibraltar, the longest siege ever endured by British forces, the Spanish and French decided on a massive push to overwhelm British defences and seize the rock. The Grand Assault, as it would come to be known, involved tens of thousands of sailors and soldiers tackling the British fortifications and ships in an all out blitz. Ten Spanish floating batteries formed the backbone of the attack with well over a hundred heavy guns trained on a British position that had already endured years of bombardment.

The British replied with hot shot and fireships, setting the batteries alight. In total, three of the ten exploded, and the other seven so damaged that they were scuttled. Casulaties were heavy among the Spanish gunners.

Roger Curtis, a Royal Navy officer, led small boats to do battle with the Spanish and French during the assault, but this combat operation quickly transformed into a humanitarian mission. Despite the danger of explosions (one of which even killed the coxswain beside him), Curtis ordered his men to puck as many sailors and soldiers from the sea as they could.

It was this courageous and merciful action that earned Curtis a knighthood and his place in many works of art, including this engraving by J.K. Kerwin.

British sailors shield themselves from the blast by lifting their jackets and colors while their mates pluck the half naked foe from the sea. Though merciful, the sailors aren't too delicate with their helpless foe. One tar even grabs some poor exhausted chap by the hair.

The saiors are in a mix of jackets and shirt sleeves. They wear round hats with short brims. There isn't a hint of a waistcoat among this lot. One sailor lifts his jacket for protection, and holds his neckcloth along with it. The jacket is single breasted with two button mariners' cuffs left open.

Further aft, Curtis stands directing the sailors with a speaking trumpet. These men are also wearing round hats, though the oarsman wears a remarkably short brimmed cocked hat, what was perhaps a round hat pinned up. Both the oarsman and the coxswain (not yet killed by the blast) wear their jackets with open mariners' cuffs.