Recent Posts

Carmarthenshire Archives – Further Urgent Update


The report on the archives that will be discussed by Carmarthenshire County Council’s executive board on Monday 30 November can be read at this link – scroll down to item 12. If you feel moved to action, please follow the advice in the previous post on this site.

Carmarthenshire Archives: Urgent Message


There’s a new and very important post by Sara Fox of the Friends of Carmarthenshire Archives in the ‘Visitor Posts’ section on the campaign Facebook page. For those of you who might not be on FB, I’ve copied and pasted the text below. Thanks in advance to all those who feel moved to take the […]

Pepys Show and Tell


These days, I approach major exhibitions dealing with subjects I know something about with a considerable degree of trepidation. Maybe there’ll be massive omissions, or catastrophic errors of emphasis, that wreck the whole thing. Perhaps right-on organisers will have applied a gut-wrenchingly awful, unhistorical, and anachronistic interpretative slant. Maybe the layout of the exhibition space […]

Maritime Nation(s)?


Just over a week ago, I attended the annual conference of MOROL, the Institute of Welsh Maritime Historical Studies. This took place in the somewhat unlikely setting of Trinity St David’s University College at Lampeter. Now, Lampeter is a very nice town, but one thing it most certainly isn’t is ‘maritime’ – it’s not quite […]

The Joy of Myth


It’s a refreshing change to come up for air after the intensity of all the Carmarthenshire Archives posts, and to actually blog about something else: something more like the normal fare of this particular website, in fact! (No doubt many of you will be breathing a similar sigh of relief…) I’m currently heavily engaged in […]

Carmarthenshire Archives: J’accuse, Part 3


Despite being delayed by a holiday, Part 3 of this series of posts has still arrived rather sooner than I anticipated, essentially because Carmarthenshire Council finally responded to my Freedom of Information request to release the correspondence between it on the one hand, and the National Archives and Welsh government on the other – and […]



…it is perhaps deceptively easy for the uninformed to pass over the enormous contribution that Wales and the Welsh people have made to the story of British naval mastery over the years. Equally, the massive extent to which naval affairs and their influences have impacted profoundly on the lives of the Welsh people and on the country at large. is not at all as well understood as it very much ought to be, either in Wales or elsewhere in these islands. Well, J D Davies’s splendid new book will do much to correct the facile view that the maritime heritage of Wales is only about labouring tramp steamers…and it is therefore much to be welcomed, for it deals with a history and an experience of Welsh seafaring that has never hitherto been properly recounted.

The writer…takes the reader on a marvellous passage through 2000 years of Welsh seafaring endeavour…Handling a complex array of diverse and complicated sources with an enviable facility and writing in a polished prose which does justice to the depth and significance of this history, this is essentially a book about opening doors and windows and letting the light into a subject that has been unfairly neglected and largely ignored for too long, and that makes it a most valuable contribution to scholarship in modern naval history which can be strongly recommended. And a fine one it is… It will be clear I hope that your reviewer thinks this is a good and important book, but whether or not it will succeed other than modestly in shifting the trajectory of Welsh maritime history towards a deeper engagement with the naval dimension of the country’s sea history is, I think, likely to remain a matter of conjecture for a time yet. – Dr Campbell McMurray, Maritime Wales


Reviews of ‘Britannia’s Dragon: A Naval History of Wales’


‘You will want to give this book to your favourite armchair seadog’ – James Srodes in The Washington Times

‘This superb book…not only an impressive technical publication to satisfy the dedicated researcher, it is also a jolly good read for the enthusiast’ – The Nautical Magazine

‘[A] magnificent and superbly illustrated volume’ – Professor Eric Grove in Navy News

‘This superb book…well written…beautifully illustrated throughout…this outstanding book is also very good value for money. Highly recommended’ – Marine News

‘Outstanding analysis’ – The Oxford Times

‘This great vade mecum…the research embodied in this work is excellent…no student of the late seventeenth century navy can afford to be without this admirable compilation’ – Professor David Loades in The Mariner’s Mirror

‘A book which should be in the bookcase of every student of Royal  Naval history…the author deserves huge congratulations for the expertise and knowledge so well recorded in this superb book’ – David Clement in South West Soundings

‘Fantastically detailed and comprehensive…an absolute must for anyone with an interest in the sailing navy’ – Janet Dempsey in Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine

Reviews of ‘Pepys’s Navy: Ships, Men and Warfare 1649-89’


Great naval fiction…Hornblower, Aubrey and Quinton – a pantheon of the best adventures at sea – Conn Iggulden

Exciting, emotive and utterly convincing, the Quinton Journals lead the field in naval historical fiction – Sam Willis, TV presenter and author of Fighting Ships, The Fighting Temeraire, The Admiral Benbow & The Glorious First of June

Finely shaded characters, excellent plotting, gut-clenching action and immaculate attention to period naval detail…these are superb books – Angus Donald, author of ‘The Outlaw Chronicles’

A splendid addition to nautical adventure, and a grand story, to boot!—Dewey Lambdin, author of the Alan Lewrie series of novels

J D Davies’s depiction of Restoration England and the British navy is impeccable, his characters truly live and breathe, and the plot kept me in suspense. Gentleman Captain is one of the rare books that I have read with a smile on my face from cover to cover. I could not recommend it more. — Edward Chupack, author of Silver: My Own Tale as Written by Me with a Goodly Amount of Murder

A beautifully written and masterfully told story…an excellent book, well researched, well written and thoroughly enjoyable…terrific characters, a thrilling adventure, and a wonderful sense of time and place…a delightful tale… a naval adventure that goes well beyond the usual outlines of the genre to paint a lively portrait of England in the 1600s…these are superb books…the best series of historical fiction I’ve ever read – From various reviews of the series

Reviews of ‘The Journals of Matthew Quinton’

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