The Real Gentlemen Captains, Redux, Part I

In the lead-up to my appearance on 13 March at Weymouth Leviathan, Britain’s first maritime literary festival, I thought I’d reblog some of my very earliest posts on this site, from November 2011, about some of the characters who will be making appearances during my talk. Here’s the first of them! People often ask me […]

Solebay 340, Part 3

The Battle of Solebay did little to foster greater unity within the combined fleet. Indeed, in the immediate aftermath of the battle the bitterest recriminations were not those between the British and the French, but those between individual officers in the two fleets. Sir Joseph Jordan and Sir John Kempthorne, Sandwich’s two subordinate flag officers […]

Solebay 340, Part 2

Despite their impressive outward appearance, the French ships simply had no experience of operating in such a large fleet in wartime. Even before d’Estrées arrived at Spithead, King Charles II himself, at a meeting of the Committee for Foreign Affairs, expressed the view that the Duke of York should ‘ripen the Fr[ench] in passage and […]

Solebay 340, Part 1

Today, 28 May, marks the 340th anniversary of the battle of Solebay in 1672. (It is also the anniversary of the first Battle of Schooneveld in the following year.) This was the first naval battle of the third Anglo-Dutch war, and the dramas of the battle itself were matched by its far-reaching consequences. So I […]

The Real Tarpaulins, Part 1

In recent posts, I’ve looked at the lives of some of the real ‘gentleman captains’ who became models for my fictional character, Matthew Quinton. Drawn from the aristocracy and gentry, often possessing very little prior experience of the sea, the ‘gentlemen’ became increasingly dominant in the navy of Charles II and Samuel Pepys. By doing […]