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NAPOLEONIC WARS LOG of the Proceedings of The HMSS Malabar Kept by W B Boddy

W B Boddy
Napoleonic War manuscript ship’s log for a British warship in the Mediterranean that would be used shortly afterwards to transport convicts to Ne… Read more
Published in 1814 by .
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NAPOLEONIC WARS LOG of the Proceedings of The HMSS Malabar Kept by W B Boddy by W B Boddy

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Napoleonic War manuscript ship’s log for a British warship in the Mediterranean that would be used shortly afterwards to transport convicts to New South Wales (1819) and Van Diemen’s Land (1821) in Australia.

The folio-sized ship’s log comprises two disbound sections of a notebook of a junior British naval officer’s training logbook from 1814. Manuscript title to front cover: ‘Log &c of the Proceedings of HMSS The Malabar. Kept by W B Boddy.’ A beautifully worked half page watercolour sketch of The Malabar under full sail appears on the following leaf as frontispiece. Hand-stitched, laid foolscap paper (water mark John Hayes 1809, vertical chain lines), externally heavily marked, including signs of burning to spine and bottom left of front cover; internally fairly clean, though yellowed, and most pages ink-stained. Remnants of cords binding the spines of each section; first section (8 leaves) bound, plus 7 separate leaves. 21 pages of handwritten log entries record two legs of a Mediterranean voyage out from Gibraltar to Genoa and, after a gap (when a roundabout voyage to Malta may have taken place) from Genoa back to Gibraltar; continuing into 4 pages of notes on medical conditions.

Likely a Midshipman’s log maintained as part of his training, the expected details are recorded: weather, wind speeds and directions, sea conditions, speeds, depths and latitudes, and sightings of land and ships; together with duties undertaken and settings of sails; and comments on some more unusual events such as a flogging and firing of cannon salutes. The entries express the monotony of routine naval life patrolling the Mediterranean year before Napoleon once again made it the focus of the war as he escaped captivity in Elba early in 1815. Boddy records much pumping out of water, washing of decks and scrubbing of hammocks, but lends detail to the weeks spent in harbour repairing ship, taking on stores and cargo and encounters and transactions with other ships.

Outward voyage (12 pages): Saturday 16 April to 23 May 1814.

East from Europa Point, Gibraltar, to Genoa, passing Formentera (Balearics), Cabrera, Mallorca, and 4 weeks spent in harbour at Minorca coinciding with HMS Rivoli, Duncan and Carlotta; then in convoy bound for Malta with cargo including casks of tar, but calling in at Genoa for 4 weeks, after which the log entries pause. At Genoa, mention of HMS Beswick, Bayne, Aboukir, America, Undaunted, HM Brig Guadaloupe, Pembroke, Mermaid and Rainbow; Sunday 29th May all ships fired 19 guns to mark the day of the Restoration of Charles 2nd; Wednesday 1st June, punished John Collin with 36 lashes for theft; Saturday 4th June, fired Royal Salute of 21 guns, it being King George’s birthday; taking on of quantities of timber.

Return voyage (9 pages): Wednesday 6 July 1814 to 24 July 1814.

West from Genoa to Gibraltar, arriving 21 July, intending continued passage to England. Sailed in company with HMS Philomel and 3 Prizes as convoy; sighting of a French frigate; many references to ‘burning’ the old arsenic-based signal ‘blue light’ in answer to the Commodore’s instructions; re-sighting of the Islands of Cabrera and Formentera; and at Gibraltar, a 13 gun salute for Rear Admiral [Charles Elphinstone] Fleeming [Commander in Chief at Gibraltar].

Medical notes (4 pages): continuing on reverse of final Log entry above, include: Diseases attendant upon Infants; Ophthalmia or Inflammation of the Eye; and The Pelvis, source unknown.

HMS Malabar was launched in 1804, with the name Cuvera, by the East India Company. She was bought two years later by the Admiralty and rebuilt as an armed storeship, serving largely in the Mediterranean fleet; after the peace, in 1819 she was used to transport convicts to New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land (modern Tasmania) before serving as a prison hulk in Bermuda, being broken up in 1853.


Full details

Added under Manuscript
Date published 1814
Subject 1 Manuscript
Signed Yes
Product code 7846


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