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Hinkley collection, 1755-1837 (majority within 1755-1779, 1837)

2 volumes

The Hinkley collection is comprised of an account book and exercise book owned by members of the Hinkley family of Georgetown, Maine, in the mid-18th and early 19th centuries. The materials pertain to John Hinkley's finances, Samuel P. Hinkley's finances and education, and religious poetry.

The Hinkley collection is comprised of an account book and exercise book owned by members of the Hinkley family of Georgetown, Maine, in the mid-18th and early 19th centuries. John Hinkley kept 125 pages of accounts from 1755-1779, Samuel P. Hinkley kept 3 pages of accounts from 1789-1805, and Samuel P. Hinkley recorded 56 pages of information about mathematics and navigational principles. The account book also has 8 pages of religious poetry.

The first 125 pages of John Hinkley's Account Book concern the period between June 1755 and May 1779, though most accounts are dated between 1755 and 1765. His double-entry records pertain to his purchases of chocolate, sugar, corn, meal, rum, molasses, and other foodstuffs, and some reflect his interest in a sawmill. Several aspects of the mill's business are covered, such as providing boards and hauling timber. John Hinkley frequently traded with other members of the Hinkley family, including Josiah Hinkley and Samuel Hinkley. The accounts are followed by 8 pages of religious poetry, with one poem attributed to Betsey Hinkley, and 3 pages of financial accounts that Samuel P. Hinkley sporadically recorded between December 1789 and June 1805.

Samuel P. Hinkley's Exercise Book, dated December 18, 1837, contains 56 pages of nautical navigational problems and exercises. Topics include plane sailing, traverse sailing, parallel sailing, middle latitude sailing, and Mercator sailing, as well as the method of ascertaining latitude by making observations. Hinkley recorded several case studies and accompanying exercises for each sailing method, and the book contains the mathematical calculations used to solve each problem. Some problems, particularly those in the traverse sailing section, are accompanied by tables. The last several pages are copied entries from an unnamed ship's log, originally recorded during a journey between Boston and Madeira in March and April 1824 and during an unspecified voyage in January 1824.


HMS Levant and HMS Arethusa log book, 1775-1777

1 volume

The HMS Levant and HMS Arethusa log book contains daily records about the weather, navigation, and incidences that occurred during the commissions of both ships while sailing in the Mediterranean and the English Channel.

This vellum-bound log book (15cm x 19cm) contains 259 pages of tabular data respecting voyages of the HMS Levant (1775-1776, 223 pages) and, beginning in the back of the volume, the HMS Arethusa (1777, 36 pages). Additional pages in the volume are either blank, or contain empty tables. The flyleaf is inscribed with the name of William Browell and with the names of the two ships and their commanders. The flyleaf also includes a pen-and-ink drawing of a man wearing a formal headdress or hairstyle, with curls above the ear and a single ponytail at the nape of the neck.

The HMS Levant and HMS Arethusa log book contains a daily record of locations, movements, sails, surroundings, weather, discipline, and out-of-the-ordinary occurrences. The log keeper recorded data in tables with columns marked "H" (the hour of the day), "K" (speed in knots), "F" (depth of the water in fathoms), "Courses," "Winds," and the date. Details about the positioning of sails, winds, and directional courses are included. Crew discipline is mentioned throughout the text, which involved floggings for reasons of insolence, drunkenness, going ashore without leave, fighting, and neglect of duty.

HMS Levant

The HMS Levantlog book spans approximately the first year and a half of the American War of Independence, beginning on Friday, June 23, 1775, and ending on Sunday November 24, 1776. In addition to regular data, the book documents navigational coordinates and landmarks from the ship's travels in the English Channel, North Atlantic Ocean, and Mediterranean Sea, and along the coasts and surrounding islands of England, Portugal, Spain, France, Algeria, and Italy. Noteworthy locations sighted or visited by the Levant include Lizard Point, the Scilly Islands, Lisbon, Cádiz, Gibraltar Bay, Majorca, Marseilles, Sardinia, the Bay of Naples, and Algiers.

From the commencement of the ship's voyage in June until late September, the ship traveled as part of the Mediterranean fleet under the command of Rear Admiral Robert Mann. The Levant log book contains references to Mann's flagship, theMedway, the Royal Oak (under Captain Peter Parker), the Enterprise, the Exeter, the Worcester, the Alarm, and the Zephyr. Early entries of the log book contain some description of pursuing and halting ships from England and America (one from Pennsylvania and one from Maryland). Other ships encountered by the Levant hailed from Amsterdam, Genoa, Martinique, Cádiz, Jamaica, and Antigua. The author also described exercising the ship's guns and practicing tactical fleet formations (forming a line of battle abreast, a line of battle ahead, and the bow and quarter).

On July 13, 1775, the ship's foremast was damaged near the Scilly lighthouse, but was repaired in Gibraltar Bay the following month.

Interactions with other ships, both friend and foe, occur regularly throughout the log. On March 7, 1776, while sailing in Algiers Bay, the sighting of a Dutch Man-of-War was reported: "Sail'd hence the Dutch man of war the garison saluted Capt. Murray with 5 guns at is going on shore, we return'd an equal number. Sent the slaves on shore." The crew of the Levant also encountered the Dey of Algiers who "sent onboard as a Present 3 live Bullocks of sheep with bread & Vegetables to the ship comp'y." (March 7, 1776).

From October 27, 1776 until November 15, 1776 the Levant traveled as part of a convoy with at least three vessels, including the sloop Neptune, theCharles, and theHope. The writer recorded the seizure of an American ship, the Argo, on November 18, 1776. After indicating that a sail was spotted to the southwest, the HMS Levant "spoke the chase and found her to be American ship from Charles Town bound to Bordeaux. Loaded with rices and indigo. Hoisted the boat out and sent it on board of her with the 2nd Lieut who immediately took command of her as a prize."

HMS Arethusa

The HMS Arethusa log book was kept between March 23, 1777 and June 3, 1777. Beginning its journey near Belém Tower in Lisbon, the Arethusa sailed through Cape Roxant and past the Isle of Portland. The volume covers the ship's travels along southern England with a convoy to Spithead Harbour, where the ship remained anchored between April 15, 1777 and May 19, 1777. During its time in harbor, the Arethusa underwent repairs, and its decks were washed in hot vinegar and smoked with charcoal, tobacco, and tar almost daily.

The Arethusa encountered other ships during this time, most of them British. They included the Romney, a ship of the line under Vice Admiral John Montagu, the privateer Terrible, the sloop Hawke, the Centaur, the Invincible, the Brilliant, the Resolution, and the Cameleon. On, April 7, the Arethusa encountered a Dutch ship, and on March 24, a Spanish battle ship.


James Cheape letters, 1808-1818

62 items

The James Cheape letters collection contains correspondence from or concerning James Cheape, a naval student at the Royal Naval College in Portsmouth, England, and midshipman on board the Caledonia, Warspite, Tigris, Express, and Belette, during the Napoleonic Wars, the War of 1812, and in the Algerian conflict.

The James Cheape letters contain 62 letters from or concerning James Cheape, a naval student at the Royal Naval College in Portsmouth, England, and midshipman on board the Caldonia, Warspite, Tigris, Express, and Belette during the Napoleonic Wars, the War of 1812, and in the Algerian conflict. The bulk of the collection consists of 57 letters written by James Cheape with the remaining 5 letters written by fellow sailors, reporting on Cheape’s naval career. The letters are all addressed to his parents at Wellfield, near Kinross, Scotland.

Cheape was at the Royal Naval College in Portsmouth, England, from 1808 until the spring of 1811. From 1811 to 1818, he wrote from various naval vessels, but sent a few letters from London, while on leave. He was on the ship Caldonia, May 19-June 15, 1811; on the Warspite, June 2, 1812-April 1, 1814; on the Tigris, May 14-July 7, 1814; on the Express, June-July 1816; and on the Belette, August 22, 1818.

Cheape's letters include lively accounts of life at the naval academy and as a midshipman in the Royal Navy. He discussed news of other ships and fellow officers and wrote about food, the quality of the ships (how well they sailed and how they were equipped), and the characteristics of the captain, crew, and naval officers. He described Captain Blackwood, for example, as a disciplinarian who seemed to order lashings almost daily. Particularly in the early days, Cheape was in perpetual need of new clothes and money. He enjoyed his time at school, calling it the "best place emaginable," in part because he got to eat muffins, crumpets, and eggs (November 26, 1809). He often seemed less concerned with his studies than with impressing high ranking officials and with "holyday" travel; he spent time in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, and with his uncle Charles Cheape in London. Cheape's family had connections to Admiral Philip Patton, who often loaned him money (September 17, 1808). The letters reveal the curriculum of the academy: "I study the 1 book of Euclid and learnd Latin French English Grammar Writing & Drawing...Our Yacht is in the Bason for us to practice to rig her" (September 17, 1808). In the October 15, 1808 letter, he relayed to his mother an exciting episode when the Prince of Wales (George Augustus Frederick, later King George IV) arrived at the dock with his regiment, in preparation for a voyage to Spain, "but I could hardly see him their was such a crowd."

Once out at sea, Cheape wrote interesting details about nautical life and the workings of the British Navy. Cheape's first assignment was on the ship Caldonia, which convoyed with the Druid and the Revenge. Of the Caldonia, he wrote, "she is not only the longest but the finest ship in the world[.] she carries a 138 Guns and about 900 men" (May 19, 1811). Cheape next served as a midshipman on board the HMS Warspite, which started off from Chatham to patrol the waters between England and France. They spent time off Vlissingen, Netherlands; Douarnenez, France; Basque Roads, France; and at Cawsand, Cornwall.

On June 5, 1812, Cheape reported to his father the news of a valuable prize they had captured while patrolling for American ships trading with France:

"We had the good fortune to take the richest American Schooner that has sailed from France this war. We captured her only 14 hours out of Nantz [Nantes]...we took her with Gun Boats. They fired a few rounds of Grapes at us but fortunately nobody was hurt...the Capt. Values this schooner at ₤50,000 she is laden entirely with silks and lotions and so much did her owner depend on her sailing that they made another ship take her quantity of brandy, which Bonaparte obliges them to take as part of their cargo."

He later wrote of heading off to search for the American Frigate the John Adams, and that catching it would mean promotions for many on board (July 7, 1814). In a fascinating letter from November 13, 1813, Cheape described the favoritism and political maneuvering involved in organizing the fleet. He wrote that Lord Melville ordered a line of battleships to the "Western Islands" and wanted the Warspite to be among them. Lord Keith, however, told Captain Blackwood (of the Warspite), "that he could not possibly send him as he had orders to send another ship" and sent his friend Captain West's ship instead. Captain Blackwood then sent a "private letter to Lord Keith -- saying he wished the Warspite to have the preference before any other ship -- when showed the letter to Lord Keith he would not read it -- so I suppose they don't speak now." In another particularly interesting letter, Cheape discussed the role patronage played in granting naval appointments. After attempting unsuccessfully to be transferred to a war ship, Cheape lamented that naval appointments were becoming more competitive and more expensive: "they are paying the Lines of Battle Ships off so fast now that every body is trying to get their sons in frigates" (April 28, 1814).

Cheape mentioned conflicts with America several times, often relaying his own brief impressions of the War of 1812; he asked about his father's views of the war. In a letter from London dated June 18, 1812, he asked, "Do you think that there is any likely hood of an American war [with Britain] I am afraid there is not[.] we would have a chance of making some prize money perhaps." Later he wrote "Do you think it is true the Americans are going to make War with France[?] if so they will have no where to trade to at all...I hope we won't make peace with them before we give them a good drubbing" (February 9, 1814).

Cheape also gives personal accounts of his experiences at sea, including details on the many dangers of sea life. In one instance, a marlinspike "tumbled out of the main tops and fell on my head but fortunately not on the crown of the head or the Doctor said it would have killed me" (June 28, 1816). Cheape typically inquired about the health of his mother, brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles, and commented on news he read in his father's letters.

The 5 letters not written by Cheape are from instructors and superior officers informing Cheape’s father about his son's progress. They are generally optimistic. For instance, George Cheape's friend, J. Somerville, commented that James has a good disposition for a young man (August 7, 1808). Sir John Hay reported that his son was well "after the glorious Victory at Algiers" and that he planned to recommend him for promotion (April 27, 1816).

The collection also contains a few non-correspondence items of note. A letter from London, dated December 24, 1810, contains two recipes of mixtures of salt, sugar, and vinegar, likely for medicinal use. The letter from March 20, 1811, includes an inventory of a midshipman's clothes, instruments, and books.


Joshua Benjamin journal, 1716-1734

1 volume

The Joshua Benjamin journal contains notes and navigational logs on the various crews and voyages of the Brigantine Sarah, Brigantine Young Henry, Ship Lufilania, Brigantine Dolphin, Sloop Tryall, Brigantine Sea Flower, Sloop Experiment, Sloop Endeavor, Sloop Abigail, Brigantine Willam & Mary, Brigantine Union, Ship Samuell, Ship John and Cranwell, and the Ship Welcome, all sailing between 1713 and 1734.

The journal has 303 total pages, including the small pages bound together with the volume. Of these, approximately 258 are devoted to ships' logs. The book contains 60 pencil and ink coastal profiles.

The Joshua Benjamin journal contains notes on the various crews of the Brigantine Sarah and Brigantine Young Henry, as well as navigational logs and notes for various voyages of these ships as well as for the Ship Lufilania, Brigantine Dolphin, Sloop Tryall, Brigantine Sea Flower, Sloop Experiment, Sloop Endeavor, Sloop Abigail, Brigantine Willam & Mary, Brigantine Union, ship Samuell, Ship John and Cranwell, and the Ship Welcome, between 1713-1734. These voyages typically begin or end in Boston, bringing cargo to and from various ports along the Eastern Seaboard, Caribbean, and London.

The volume opens with the following inscription:

Joshua Benjamin Book[:] taken on board the Hardie Brilhae a french Ship of About 400 Tuns 32 guns Mounted x175 men in the year 1710[.] I then belonging to Her Majesty Queen Anne[']s Service in Her Ship the Kent of 70 Guns x 440 men[.]

However, none of the book's entries document the voyages of these ships. The first few pages consist of charts for the crew of the Brigantine Sarah and Young Henry with notes on crew names and positions, their wages, and time served on the ship for that voyage. After these entries is a description of a religious service at the Cathedral of San Salvador in Oviedo, Spain, accompanied by an inventory of holy relics housed there (page 9). The inventory claims 21 relics from various saints and religious figures, including one of the 30 pieces of silver received by Judas, 8 thorns from the crown Jesus wore at his crucifixion, and clothes worn by Jesus.

The next set of entries consists of the logs of the various voyages of Benjamin. He keeps track of the ships'; daily longitude and latitude positions, records the day's wind, weather, and sea conditions, and makes brief notes of daily events (setting off, docking, repairs, meeting other ships and sailors, exchanging goods, etc.). In general, the descriptions provide general information on the experiences of eighteenth-century seamen and speak to the ways in which they handled challenges at sea.

Occasionally, Benjamin describes encounters with other ships, which indicate that the crew felt keenly that the waters were dangerous. For example, on December 27, 1733, he mentions that they spotted two sails giving chase. "We feeling they were Enemies prepared to receive them by fitting the vessels for close fight" (p.141). The ships passed without incident. In one of the longer entries of the journal, Benjamin describes the unfortunate fate of the Brigantine Sarah, which on November 1, 1730, struck a rock that severely damaged the ship five leagues from Bermuda. Eventually, all crew abandoned ship and took refuge on a nearby Island. They were rescued by a passing sloop within 4 days and taken to South Carolina.

Many of the entries include rough pencil sketches of coastal profiles, indicating the basic vertical outline of approaching land. In addition to these profiles is a pen drawing of several fish (p.26) and a map of Martha's Vineyard (p.47). This hand-drawn and well labeled map of Martha's Vineyard is one of the earliest known charts of this passage.

See the "Detailed Box and Folder Listing" section for a complete document summary with voyage and illustration listed with their corresponding page numbers.


Naghel exercise book, 1798-1930 (majority within 1798)

1 volume

The Naghel exercise book, entitled Cahier de navigation, is a mathematical workbook on the art of navigation. The volume once belonged to Captain Francis Naghel, and includes documents and correspondence related to two of his descendants.

The Naghel exercise book (162 pages), titled Cahier de navigation, is a mathematical workbook on the art of navigation. The volume once belonged to Captain Francis Naghel, and includes documents and correspondence related to two of his descendants.

The navigational instructions comprise 143 pages of the volume. Individual sections often pertain to a rule with related examples and mathematical problems that often require fairly complex solutions. The volume covers specific topics such as plotting navigational courses, determining one's position, and using nautical instruments to establish direction and location. Many of the examples show practical applications and are illustrated by geometric figures or drawings of related nautical tools, and some also contain relevant charts.

Of the drawings, three are colored:
  • Compass (p. 47)
  • An oblique sphere showing signs of the zodiac, with a picture of a small rowboat in the lower left corner (p. 73)
  • Navigational problem illustrated by a half-globe and two sailing ships (p. 127)

The final 19 pages consist of pasted-in documents pertaining to Naghel and two of his descendants. These are a document certifying Naghel's American citizenship, dated June 12, 1806; a letter to Naghel's wife from her brother, Emanuel West (October 21, 1825); and documents that relate to Edward Q. Naghel, a dentist from New Albany, Indiana, and to Charles E. Naghel, a Marine commended for his work with the 1930 census in Alaska. The volume is bound in vellum.