Back to top

Search Constraints

Start Over You searched for: Subjects Ship handling. Remove constraint Subjects: Ship handling.
Number of results to display per page
View results as:

Search Results


G.A. Rooke log book, 1891-1893

266 pages

Log book kept by G.A. Rooke of the Royal Navy while aboard four different ships: the HMS Camperdown, the HMS Rodney, the HMS Australia, and the HMS Champion. Various manuscript maps, watercolors, and sketches of scenery and ships illustrate the log.

This log, spine marked "S. 625 Log Book for use of Junior Officers Afloat," is a 266-page manuscript volume written by G.A. Rooke. Rooke maintained the log from August 1, 1891 to September 30, 1893 while aboard four different ships: the Battleship HMS Camperdown; the Admiral class barbette ship HMS Rodney; the Royal Naval Coastguard ship HMS Australia; and the HMS Champion. The log itself consists of entries made three times daily and includes information regarding wind, weather, barometric pressure, temperature, and additional remarks. A typical entry reads "Mustered by Divisions. Read Prayers. Training class at gun drill. Exercised maneuvers. Ordinary Seamen at Seamanship…" (pg. 108). Within the volume are 58 illustrations and 2 photographs. The illustrations include 15 original watercolor paintings of Flagships (Philadelphia, Charleston, Baltimore, and Newark, among others), seven watercolors of mechanical equipment and machinery, 29 maps of ship routes, one pencil sketch, five ink drawings of ships and scenery, and one ink drawing of a person. The maps are almost exclusively of shipping routes around Northwestern Europe, with the exception of three: one from Gibraltar to Bermuda; one map of Bermuda; and the third from Bermuda to the Chesapeake Bay. The text written on the maps matches the handwriting of Rooke, though none of the illustrations are signed. Most of them are initialed by both a Captain and a Naval Inspector. One of the photographs is of the HMS Rodney, and the other is of the half-sunken HMS Howe. Included in the log is a four page description of the stranding of HMS Howe and the methods used to lighten its load and remove it from the rocks (pgs. 160-163).


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.


Peter Aplin logbooks, 1769-1778

5 volumes

The Peter Aplin logbooks document Aplin's voyages on the British Navy ships Savage, Niger, Prudent, Strombolo, and Roebuck. The books detail travel between England, the Mediterranean, Africa, and India, and describe participation in naval battles and blockades in Revolutionary-era North America.

The five Peter Aplin logbooks (276 pages total) document his voyages on the British navy's ships Savage, Niger, Prudent, Strombolo, and Roebuck, from 1769 to 1777. The books detail travel to England, the Mediterranean, Africa, and India, and describe his participation in naval battles and blockades in Revolutionary-era North America. Entries typically note the ships’ daily location, the weather conditions, and other ship-related matters such as repairs, discipline, rations, and interactions with other ships. The bulk of the information about the crews on these voyages concerns discipline or death on board the ships. The Aplin logs do not, however, contain personal details. The first two volumes are in Peter Aplin's hand, while volumes 3, 4, and 5, are written by various anonymous crew members.

Volume 1 (91 pages) covers two voyages, the first being from Ireland to Northern Canada on board His Majesty's Sloop Savage, commanded by Andrew Snape Hammond, from March 6 to November 23, 1769. Entries are typically 2-5 sentences long and are full of technical details on how the crew maneuvered the ship and kept it afloat during a rough voyage, as well as disciplinary actions such as lashing and confinement. Starting off from Ireland's Blasket Islands, the Savage encountered many days of "hard gale," which forced the crew to throw the guns overboard to stop the ship from foundering (v.1, p.5). During this crisis, half the crew were needed at the pumps and even with that effort the "Main Deck was Constanly full of Water" (v.1, p.7). Finally, by April 15, after a turbulent trip along the south coast of England, the Savage moored at Portsmouth Harbor, where it was repaired and provisioned until May 28 (p.13-17). The Savage then set off across the northern Atlantic and arrived at St. John's Harbor in Newfoundland on July 29. The log offers few clues on the purpose for the voyage but notes that, once anchored, the ship bottom was scrubbed, the rigging set up fore and aft, and James Cunningham was confined "for Leaving [the] boat & getting Drunk" (p.26). On August 11, the Savage headed southward and moored at Bull Bay two days later. It made stops at Cape Broyle (August 24), and Capeling Bay, Newfoundland, (August 25), before returning to St. John's Harbor (September 12-18). It arrived back at Portsmouth Harbor in late September, where it stayed till the end of the Journal on November 23, 1769.

The second voyage in volume 1 is on board the HMS Niger, commanded by Francis Bankes, from April 1, 1770 to January 18, 1771. It left from Portsmouth, England, and traveled through the Mediterranean Sea with stops at Gibraltar, Cadiz, Genoa, and Smyrna. The entries are similar to the previous voyage’s log, noting interactions with foreign ships; on board activities while sailing and mooring; and disciplinary actions for negligence of duties, selling their clothes, and gambling. A few days after unmooring from Spithead, England (May 9, 1770), the Niger had a brief encounter with an unfriendly crew on another vessel. They "fired a Shot at a French Sloop for not paying proper respect to his Maj[esty's] Ship." (p.53) The Niger headed south past France and as they approached the waters of Portugal they fired three more shots at a Dutch ship, again, for not paying respect to the English Flag (May 20th). They reached Gibraltar on May 28th and moored at Cádiz Bay, Spain, from June 11-26. From July 20 to August 6, they moored at River Tagus near Lisbon, and continued further east, stopping at Greek and Turkish Islands, such as Smyrna Castle (in November) and Milo Harbor (in early December). The ship sailed west for the next month and on January 11, 1771, had arrived back at Gibraltar to restock food and supplies. The log ends on January 18th.

Volume 2 (85 pages) is a log for the ship Prudent, commanded by Sir Jonathan Clerke, for its journey from Spithead, England, to India by way of Madeira, Madagascar, Bombay, Trincomalee (Sri Lanka), and Madras (now Chennai), from April 9, 1772 to October 27, 1774. The ship left England on April 13, and arrived at Madeira, their first stop, on April 27 (p.5). The next leg took them to St. Augustine's Bay, Madagascar, where they stayed from August 15 to September 5, 1772 (p.15-17). They reached Bombay Harbor on October 29th, where they moored. During their long stay in Bombay, Aplin continued to take notes on weather, daily activities, and crew discipline, and also described their contact with other British naval officers and crews stationed there. Also during this period, the ship made several short trips to Trincomalee Harbor, Sri Lanka, and Madras, often accompanied by a larger fleet of British ships, including the Sloop Dolphin. The last dated entry of the journal was October 28, 1774, when the Prudent was on its way southeast from India. Notable events during the ship’s voyage include the death of a crew member on May 5th, "Departed this life of accident Robt. Libson" (p.7), and a court marital for Thomas Fennel and Pat Mahon for attempted mutiny, attended by all captains stationed at Madras; the penalty was 400 lashes (p.43).

Volume 3 (47 pages plus 14 blank pages) is the logbook of the Roebuck, commanded by Andrew Hammond during the British blockade of the American Atlantic coast, October 5, 1776 to July 14, 1777. Several entries mention “the Enemy” and describe various cannon discharges and chases of foreign ships trying to get past the British blockade. Other notable events include a "Divine service" given on board the Roebuck on Sunday, October 6, 1776 (p.5); accidents at sea, such as a man falling overboard on April 27, 1777 (p.33); and a crew member dying at the mast on May 18, 1777 (p.37). The journal begins with the Roebuck stationed near the mouth of the Hudson River near Manhattan in the days leading up to the British capture of Fort Washington. On October 9, the logbook notes that guns at Fort Lee and Fort Washington fired upon their fleet but they ceased firing when the ships got past the battery. The ships then anchored at Merlin's Landing, but one of the cutters was badly damaged in the encounter and was cut adrift. The Roebuck sustained damages and fatalities, and for days after the battle, between the 10th and the 16th, many men were "Committed…to the Deep" (p.5-7). On October 21, the ship was anchored at Haverstraw, New York, on the Hudson (South of Fort Montgomery) and over the next weeks, the log’s writer made note of when shots were fired, what ships they encountered, and where the ships were stationed, though they do not record any further battles. In December 1776 and January 1777 the Roebuck was part of the British blockade on the lookout for foreign ships. Many entries describe "giving chase," with some pursuits lasting two days. They let most of the ships go, though on some occasions Aplin mentions taking prisoners (p.17). Most of the vessels were headed to Boston, Virginia, and Philadelphia, with some coming from Cape Nichola Mola, such as a schooner captured on January 2, 1777, carrying sugar and molasses (p.17). At the end of January, the Roebuck headed north and on March 12, 1777, they arrived at St. John's Harbor, Newfoundland, where they worked on the ship, "Scrubbing Hammocks and wash'd between Decks" (p.29). The entries between pages 27-45 are in a different hand. The remainder of the journal records the ship patrolling off the coast of Delaware. On April 9th it was anchored at Fenwick Island (p.31) and over the next weeks, the ship visited Cape May and Bombay Hooks, where the crew occasionally carried out small arms exercises and observed fellow British ships returning with captured vessels.

Volume 4 (35 pages and 49 blank pages) contains logs for two ships: the Roebuck, commanded by Andrew Hammond, at ports along the southern and western coasts of England, July 14-September 30, 1775, and the Strombolo, commanded by Peter Aplin, anchored off Sandy Hook, July 14-September 21, 1778. For the first 9 pages of the log, the Roebuck was docked at Chatham, England (July 14-August 3, 1775). The ship was next moored near the North Shore of Sheerness, England, from August 4-22 where two men were received from the hospital (p. 9) and another was punished for thieving (p.11). The Roebuck cruised the south coast of England for the next 10 days, anchoring off the North Foreland (August 23), near Downs (August 24); at Spithead (August 27), near Yarmouth (September 5); at the Isle of Portland (September 10); and at Guernsey (September 14-30). The logbook for the Strombolo begins on page 20 with the ship anchored off Sandy Hook from July 14-September 21, 1778 (p. 20-25). At this time, the Strombolo was stationed with the British fleet and they received daily signals from Admiral Howe. The superior French fleet had gathered near Rhode Island and occasionally approached the British to try to engage them in a large-scale conflict. On July 17th, Aplin described a skirmish between the HMS Vigilant and some French vessels. After a few days of hard gales, the British fleet sailed north on August 8th (p.25) from Sandy Hook to the vicinity of Block Island. For the next six weeks, they sailed to Block Island, Cape Cod, Sandy Hook, and Montauk, along with British ships including the HMS St. Albans, Renoun, Ardent, Experiment, Emerald, Ariel, Delaware, Vigilant, Raisonnable, Phoenix and the Apollo (August 15-18). Aplin's ship and the HMS Richmond left the fleet on September 3, 1778.

Volume 5 (18 pages) contains hand-written copies of entries from the Roebuck voyages of Volume 3, covering the log entries of October 5 to December 18, 1776, and from May 17 to July 14, 1777.