Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Honest Sailor, c1746

The Honest Sailor, Sr Peter Warren Kt of the most Honourable Order of the Bath, Vice Admiral of the White Squadron, of His Majesties Fleet, And Member of Parliament of the City & Liberty of Westminster, artist unknown, c1746, National Maritime Museum.

Sir Peter Warren was an Irish officer in the Royal Navy, who met with astounding success. Warren made his career in the New World, sailing and fighting from the Caribbean to Nova Scotia. His most famous victory is portrayed in this print by an unknown artist, who shows Warren casually pointing over his shoulder to the amphibious assault on Louisbourg. Warren commanded the British squadron that blockaded and supported the siege, while New England troops (who he thought little of) manned the guns, dug the trenches, and did the fighting ashore. Seizing Louisbourg ensured British victory in North America. Interestingly, the same strategy (a naval blockade supporting ground troops who seized Lighthouse Point on Cape Breton Island to bombard the town into submission) was used with success in 1758.

Beneath the portrait of Warren is his coat of arms. To either side of it are two seamen bearing dual pistols in a belt and a cutlass shaped like a scimitar. They wear the same slop clothes: a cocked hat over bob wig, short closely tied neckcloth, close fitting single breasted jackets with flap pockets at the waist, and a darker pair of trousers that ends about the bottom of the calf.

Monday, June 26, 2017

A View of Louisburg in North America, 1762

A View of Louisburg in North America, taken near the Light House when that City was besieged in 1758, Captain Charles Ince, engraved by P. Canot, published by Thomas Jeffreys, 1762, John Carter Brown Library of Early American Images.

A View of Louisburg in North America, taken near the Light House when that City was besieged in 1758, Captain Charles Ince, 1762, Libraries and Archives Canada via Wikimedia Commons.

A View of Louisburg in North America, taken near the Light House when that City was besieged in 1758, Captain Charles Ince, published by Carrington Bowles, date unknown, Libraries and Archives Canada.

The siege and eventual capture of Louisbourg was a major blow to the French in Canada, and a necessary step to the eventual British victory in the French and Indian War. To take Louisbourg, the British commander General Wolfe ordered his soldiers to attack and seize Lighthouse Point on Breton Island. There they erected batteries to bombard the French fleet and fortifications.

Captain Charles Ince of the 35th Regiment of Foot observed and illustrated the scene above, presumably on July 20, 1758, when, as Lieutenant William Gordon of the 40th Foot wrote: '400 seamen were sent on Shore to assist on the right.' They were employed in reinforcing the batteries, which had recently come under a withering French fire, and possibly in working the guns themselves.

The next day, these batteries inflicted the fatal blow on French possession of Louisbourg when they set fire to the Célèbre and Entreprenant. These two warships, along with several others, can be seen floating to the right in the above illustrations, awaiting the doom that these sailors haul to their batteries.

The sailors are uniformly dressed in round hats, jackets that end above the top of the thigh, and petticoat trousers. In the Wikimedia print, they wear blue jackets, while in the Libraries and Archives of Canada version they wear blue and red.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Plate from Histoire des naufrages, 1788

Plate from Histoire des Naufrages, engraved by Marillier, 1788, John Carter Brown Library of Early American Images.

The curators of the John Carter Brown Library of Early American Images state that this image depicts a small group of survivors from a pair of English vessels bound from Quebec to New York City during the American Revolutionary War whose schooner was lost with all hands and ship run aground. In a desperate bid for salvation, these six men took a damaged boat ashore and were met by two Native Americans, who are shown here providing them with warmth and food.

The weak seamen gathered about the fire wear breeches and loose petticoat trousers. Their jackets have buttoned scalloped mariner's cuffs, and at least one of them is double vented at the back. Atop their heads they wear tattered round hats with tall cylindrical crowns and one fellow had a loose cap. They sport some facial hair, probably a sign of their desperation and lack of comforts, as it is incredibly rare for sailors to be portrayed with beards.

And officer and a sailor, also bearing beards and long hair, stand over the others. The sailor wears a round hat with upturned brim, single breasted jacket, and trousers.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Admiral Anson's men in the dress of the Inhabitants of Payta, 1770

Admiral Anson's men in the dress of the Inhabitants of Payta, Edward Cavendish Drake, 1770, John Carter Brown Library of Early American Images.

With a broad smile on his face, an officer (probably Anson himself) greets the return of his men from a successful raid. On the night of November 13, 1741, the crews of the Centurion and Carmelo rowed ashore and took the fort and town of Payta, Peru by complete surprise. The inhabitants were so thoroughly unprepared that the Spanish governor only escaped 'by jumping out of the window in his nightgown, fleeing to his comrades in the hills, and leaving behind his beautiful young bride who sat up in bed, shocked at the appearance of a young English officer.'[1]

According to the catalog entry at the John Carter Brown Library of Early American Images, 'the inhabitants fled without dressing, so that the sailors breaking into their houses, seized their clothes and paraded about in them.'

Beneath their pilfered clothes can be seen sailor's slop clothes: trousers and jackets without waistcoats. The jackets are worn with the slash cuffs open. The fellow with his fancy dress who parades up front wears a double breasted jacket over an embroidered waistcoat. To his left is a man in a turban wearing what appears to be a curtain over his own single breasted jacket. To their left is a sailor with a hug wig and embroidered frock coat with impossibly long cuffs. His is a cocked hat trimmed in white that he wears reversed.

[1] Heaps, Leo, Log of the Centurion, London: Hart-Davis, MacGibson, 1974, page 135.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Tacoma Festival of Sail

Photo courtesy of Christopher Sørensen
Follower Christopher Sørensen will be spending the weekend giving navigation demonstrations aboard the beautiful Lady Washington in the American Northwest all weekend long at the Tacoma Festival of Sail.
A view of the Lady Washington, Grays Harbor Historical Seaport
Twenty three vessels of all shapes, sizes, and types will be sailing and motoring, but the Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftan will be of particular interest to followers of this blog. Get your tickets online and step aboard! The festival starts today.

Photo courtesy of Christopher Sørensen

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Shore Party Weekend

It's back! Come on down to Historic London Town and Gardens for a weekend of sailmaking, cooking, singing, carpentry, navigation, rope making, and more.

Sailors descend on the original eighteenth century seaport and you're welcome to join them. Whether you relax in an original c.1760 brick tavern, or stroll through the Historic Area, you're sure to have a great time.

I'll be there all weekend, and so will reenactors from the Ship's Company, Acasta, Otter, and more.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Britain's Rights Maintained, 1755

Britain's Rights Maintained, or French Ambition Dismantled, Louis Philippe Boitard. 1755, Boston Rare Maps.

If you haven't visited Boston Rare Maps, you really should. There is an amazing collection of original printed images and maps that you can purchase. Definitely worth checking out.

Britain's Rights Maintained, a political cartoon by Boitard, was printed in the early days of the French and Indian War/Seven Years War. Another copy is held at the Library of Congress. His is an overly optimistic piece boasting about British victory well before it was assured. Indeed, 1755 left little for the British to celebrate.

Neptune himself points to a map of British North America, his finger resting on the border between New York and Quebec. Posturing with his trident as if to spear the French cock at his feet, Neptune declares "This for the Honour of the British Flag, Conducted by the Nobly-Spirited Anson." At this time, George Anson, hero of the previous war, was First Lord of the Admiralty.

Behind the British lion on the far left, a group of sailors circle around a pillar to the triumphs of George II. They are uniformly dressed in petticoat trousers, and beneath two of them are visible long ribbons. These ribbons are either to fasten the breeches at their knees, or serve as garters for their stockings. The men wave round hats over their heads, and a couple appear to be wearing bob wigs. Their jackets end about the middle of the thigh, and a few carry sticks.

On the far right, a single sailor, named Jack Tar, rests his hand on the shoulder of Monsieur Le Politiciene. The monsieur is despondent over the loss of America (again, a far cry from certain). Jack does not comfort the poor fellow, but mocks him:
Hark ye Mounseer! was that your Map of North America? what a vast tract of Land you had! pity the Right Owner shou'd take it from you.
Jack wears a reversed cocked hat over a bob wig, and a plain cloth at his neck. His jacket is loose fitting and ends below the top of the thigh, draping over his petticoat trousers. As with the other sailors, he wears long ribbons at his knee. A checked shirt is visible beneath a waistcoat with narrow vertical stripes. His shoes are pointed toe, and the tongue hangs out from his buckle, perhaps in "sailor's fashion."

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Imports of Great Britain from France, 1757

The Imports of Great Britain from France, Louis-Philippe Boitard, 1757, Government Art Collection.

Despite being born in France, Boitard was more than happy to tap into British worries about French influence on their culture. This political cartoon depicts the arrival of dandies and the emasculation of Londoners by the goods brought across the channel. published some eight years after Hogarth's Gate of Calais, perhaps Boitard is attempting to bookend Hogarth's piece by providing the geographical opposite to his work.

The Gate of Calais is also known as O The Roast Beef of Old England, borrowing its name from the song composed originally in 1731. Among the lyrics is this key verse:
But since we have learnt from all-vapouring France
To eat their ragouts as well as to dance,
We're fed up with nothing but vain complaisance
Oh! the Roast Beef of Old England,
And old English Roast Beef!
 Both Hogarth and Boitard are warning about the corrupting influence of French culture. Joining the artists in their scorn are a pair of sailors leaning on the larboard rail of a packet that is disgorging its vile passengers:
Swarms of Milliners, Taylors, Mantua-makers, Frisers, Tutoresses for Boarding schools, disguis'd Jesuits, Quacks, Valet de Chambres, &c. &c. &c.

One wears a round hat, the other a knit cap. Each wears a plain neckcloth draped over their simple jackets (which appear to be without cuffs, and a pair of petticoat trousers. The man on the left holds a pipe in one hand, and wears a bob wig beneath his round hat.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Raree Show, 1762

The Raree Show! a Political Contrast to the Print of the Times, by Wm Hogarth, engraved by Edward Sumpter after Jefferys O'Neale, 1762, British Museum.

O'Neale offers an answer to William Hogarth's The Times in this densely cluttered political cartoon. Where Hogarth had a fire engine fighting to extinguish the global blaze of the war, O'Neale's engine is surrounded by slumbering firemen. A Tudor king on stilts fanned the flames with a bellows in Hogarth's piece, but O'Neale features a Jacobite on stilts shrilling on bagpipes to draw away attention from the inferno. As if there could be any doubt as to O'Neale's opinion of Hogarth, he took the time to add a dog urinating on his rival's print.

Hogarth featured a sailor carrying buckets to feed the fire engine. O'Neale's sailor is carrying books to burn.

He wears a reversed cocked hat over a bob wig. Around his neck is a striped neckcloth, which is partially tucked into his single breasted jacket with its very short slit cuffs. His trousers are wide and end about the middle or top of the calf. Pointed shoes with rectangular buckles complete his slop clothes.