Journal of the Proceedings on Board His Majesty’s Ship Stately, George Scott Esq. Captain, Commencing September 14th, 1799… Ending the 9th July 1803.
Three journals, 33 cm. Unpaginated. About 300 pp. manuscript entries.
HMS Stately was a 64-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched in 1784. She was converted to a troopship in 1799, and made several trips to and from Ireland in this capacity. In 1800 she took part in the Second Coalition war against Napoleon, and was sent to the Mediterranean, where she arrived as part of a convoy in April and May, 1800. She witnessed the Austrian siege of Genoa, then played a part in the Egyptian Campaign, putting in at Marmaris, Turkey. In March 1801 she landed troops from the squadron in Aboukir bay, Egypt, where the French were already in a position. In that operation, 4 seamen and one officer were killed, and 7 seamen wounded. In May 1801, “Stately” cruised to the western Mediterranean, with several long stays at Valetta. In September 1801 men from the ship’s company were involved in operations ashore at Porto-Ferrajo. Finally, at the end of the activity reported in these 3 journals, she was at Cape Matapan on the southern tip of the Greek mainland. She later served in the Baltic, and again in the Mediterranean, and was broken up in 1814. The three journals offered here were kept by Samuel Wise, a Master’s Mate. In addition to the usual information about weather, course, sail handling and so forth, he takes care to note any unusual events on board, shorelines and features, delivery of supplies, floggings and other disciplinary measures, the signaling that took place between ships in the fleet, injuries, illnesses and deaths aboard, as well as information on accompanying ships and other officers. His entries are precise, tidy, and informative, and the form of the journal makes the information easily accessible. The page on the left is a visual depiction of days of the week, course, location, bearing, and weather. The page on the right is broken into sections of narrativer corresponding to the days on the left-hand page. These sections fill in the detail for each day. For example, on Tuesday, September 15th, 1801, the left-hand page shows them a league east of Port Ferrajo. The corresponding entry on the right-hand page reads, “Light breezes and variable. Tackd. Lay too. made and shortened sail occasionally. at 2 the Boats returned with the Seamen & Marines, having 3 Seamen wounded and 11 Marines missing. at 4 in all boats. AM dr NW Tacking &c as before at day light 5 strange sail in sight in the WNW the Dragon & Alexander in chace. at Noon Adml and Squad. in sight. Rem of water 147 1/2 ton.” In other words, just enough to tell us what’s going on. As another concession to efficient recording and reading, Wise has placed a section of “Remarks” at the end of each of the volumes. These, in fact, serve as indices to the contents of each journal, giving date, subject and page number of each meaningful entry. Thus, On Sept 14, 1801 in the “References” section, Wise writes, “Landed all the Mariners & a party of seamen from ye Squad. destroyd 3 batteries having 3 of our men wounded & 11 marines missing.” (See Clowes, “Royal Navy” vol. III p. 452-454 for an account of this event. Other named figures may be found in O’Byrne and DNB.) As well as keeping a record of daily events, Wise occasionally tried his hand at drawing. His pen sketches include recognition views in the Bay of Tunis and Cape Bon as well as the islands of Favignanna, Marettimo, and Stromboli, which is in the midst of a volcanic eruption in Wise’s drawing. Three folio volumes, hand gathered and sewn, bound in heavy paper wrappers. Contents clean and legible. Housed in a later clamshell box of half calf over marbled boards. Further journals of “HMS Stately” kept by Wise in 1803-1804 are held in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.