This webpage updated 14 November, 2017
A slaver was a man who touched the lives of helpless strangers with evils. He delivered the stranger into a life of exile-in-chains, hard labour unrewarded, denigration, pain and fear and insult, loneliness, a dysfunctional or non-existent family life, constant injustice, prejudice, dehumanisation and brutalisation. In this book, the strangers were mostly Africans and the enslavers were mostly English.
On the bedrocks of these evils, Europeans in The Age of Sail built a gigantic and profitable industry, sometimes known as The Atlantic Triangular Trade Pattern. Or otherwise, slavery.
This book retraces how the English became involved. Little will be said about the roles of the French, Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese, who are left to their own languages and memories.
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This book delves slavery of the past. What of the future? As reported in world print media (28 May 2002), an international group, Anti-Slavery International, claimed that an increasing number of people are being forced into slavery. They estimate that about 27 million people are now "forcibly employed". Whatever the real situation, there is a great deal of discussion of contemporary slavery on the Internet. Humanity it seems has great resistance to accomplishing the permanent abolition of slavery.
British historians throughout the twentieth century remained candid about discussing their nation's involvement in slavery, whatever else crossed their minds as the British Empire declined. A question might be: can anything new be said? I think so; some related issues spilled over from Atlantic history to Pacific history.
Whatever they have written, modern English historians have tended not to romance several themes to be discussed here, though their predecessors might have. One reason for this is an understandable pride at Britain's having initiated the abolition of slavery from the late eighteenth century. Paradoxically, at the same time, English convicts were being transported to Australia into conditions of quasi-slavery.
For reasons of humanity, it remains unthinkable that the maritime aspects of the slave trade be written up as an industry, as ordinary economic history. It seems that something of a similar reticence has been visited on the maritime history of convict transportation to Australia. For, Anglo-Australian historians have tended to neglect discussion of the shipping aspects of convict transportation, while paradoxically, British officialdom from 1786 properly archived their documents relating to convict transportation, leaving an immense paper trail for later generations to inspect.
This paradox has afflicted discussion of some late eighteenth century and much nineteenth century Pacific exploration by British ships. Discussion of British whaling has also been afflicted. If restricting such discussions has created problems for Pacific history, as I think it has, the question arises, can a researcher find a way around the problem?
Yes, at the cost of reviewing the history of English slavery, sometimes seeing it as part of maritime history, and by noting where variations within that history show a next pulse of English interest in The Great Southland. Any such effort tends to re-profile some Pacific maritime histories.
There is yet another trend which British historians have given only muted treatment - the long tradition their country has entertained of getting rid of inconvenient people, offloading them to colonies. (As a process, I term this: the use of genealogical sumps.)
These inconvenient people might have been Scots or Irish the English found bothersome, as in Cromwell's time. Unfortunate youngsters who risked getting into trouble. Ordinary criminals of greater or smaller guilt who ended sentenced to transportation to English colonies. England, or Britain, engaged this custom of transporting inconvenient people out of the kingdom from about 1640 to some years after World War Two. Other European countries engaged in slavery, but they did not indulge anything like the English custom of regularly ridding a kingdom of inconvenient people.
A variety of themes arise for inspection if the English use of slavery is examined, concerning the Atlantic and the Caribbean. Some of these themes were exported by the British to the Pacific region, to Australia. However, since British writers decided not to romance these themes, Australians with their British heritage have been left with the cultural difficulty of having to dwell on unromantic and unromanticised themes. If this is a problem, it seems best to tackle it head on, and see what remains to be dealt with. Australians are not the only paddlers in the Pacific who might have a question to ask or an opinion to deliver!
Australians have a dilemma. Much eighteenth and nineteenth Pacific history has been gilded with lush mystique and romances of exploration. Such mystique cannot be applied to the Crime-and-Punishment themes of exiling convicts to Botany Bay.
Internationally, historians of the European discoveries of Australia have varied greatly in their approaches to discussion of such a large, raw land mass came to the attention of the rest of the world... Britain's motive to expel convicts tends to be downplayed, yet it was this motive which meant that settlement would follow discovery. Explaining how and why this happened becomes an exercise in fending off human tendencies to dream, fantasy, speculation, adventurism, and all manner of imagination - or, imaginitis. The romance of the blue Pacific encourages holiday thoughts, though with convictism, the real mood was more sombre.
In terms of which, this book regards convict transportation, a la Britain's settlement at Sydney of 1788, as a subset of the history of slavery - and tries to be rigorous in outlining the implications for any revision of views on how the rest of the world came to be aware of the island continent - Australia.
News in July 2006: The history websites on this domain now have a companion website, and an updating website as well, on a new domain, at Merchant Networks Project, produced by Dan Byrnes and Ken Cozens (of London).
This new website (it is hoped) will become a major exercise in economic and maritime history, with much attention to London/British Empire and some attention to Sydney, Australia.
We know, for example, that during the Australian gold rushes of
the 1850s, Chinese tempted by their financial fates regarded
prospects in Australia as "the gold mountain". The question arises,
and it is often asked by Australia's Aboriginal people, and others,
and it is a fair question: when will Australia be seen as
Some early views on general exploration leading to discovery of Australia are given in Sir Percy Sykes, A History of Exploration: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day. London, Routledge and Sons, 1975. See also,
Michael Cannon, (with Margaret Fraser, Editor), The Exploration of Australia: From First Sea Voyages to Satellite Discoveries. Sydney, Reader's Digest, 1987.
Within the history of European exploration and colonisation, we
can also consider McIntyre's points on Timor and Portugal's
long-term ignorance of Australia... so near and yet so far...
Kenneth Gordon McIntyre, The Secret Discovery of Australia: Portuguese Ventures 250 Years before Capt. Cook. Revised. Sydney, Pan, 1977., pp. 215-216.
In McIntyre's rather radical book suggesting...
... that Portugal had an idea to settle Timor, located between Indonesia and Australia. Also, that Portuguese mariners arrived very early on an eastern shore of what is now called Australia. That the Portuguese had the habit of carrying convicts on their ships, and of leaving them behind in places to shift for themselves. It is said that with the voyage of Abreu, only 80 men returned, so from the beginning, one version of the early stages of the history of the "South land" was "contaminated" by some association with facts of European crime.
A maritime trend was set, it is said, when John Cabot, while
organizing his second expedition to the New World, was allowed by
Henry VII to take "some criminals" as part of his crew. This was
perhaps the first use of convicted people in the service of English
See Encyclopedia Britannica entry on Cabot, 1962 edition.
In 1577 Martin Frobisher went to the "New World" with some
criminals in his crew; six of whom were left on the coast of
Friesland. Long later, Irish captains carrying convicts to North
America would earn a disgraceful reputation for their habit of
dumping their "cargoes" of convicts.
F. L. W. Wood, Jeremy Bentham versus New South Wales, Journal of Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. XIX, 1933., Part VI., p. 329.
If such allusions are enough to sombrely "contaminate" any early history of "The Great Southland", what then are we to make of Britain beginning her settlement of Australia (as it became known) with convicts who were regarded variously at the time as social scum? This is a rather unprepossessing way to begin the European history of an entire continent! Just possibly, historians have over-dramatised the "human pollution factor" as represented by use of convict labour.
Transportation to Australia developed a long and odious
tradition, springing out of an earlier tradition of convict
transportation to North America. Oddly enough, some "convict
relics" once sent to Australia relate to the career of Jonathan
Forward, a convict contractor to North America who died aged 80 in
1760, leaving much property to a grandson, Edward Stephenson,
including a share of the Iron Gate Wharf, by St. Katherine's
On Forward, see Peter Wilson Coldham, Emigrants in Chains. Phoenix Hill, Far Thrupp, Stroud, Gloucestershire, Allan Sutton, 1992., p. 86.
By 1972, some "convict relics" from St. Katherine's Dock were sent by the British Tourist Authority to be presented to the Lord Mayor of Sydney; a flagstone and a piece of railing. (The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 March, 1972, p. 7.)
The flagstone was "part of the last dry land on which many of our ancestors stood in England until they landed in Australia to begin their sentences as transported convicts". ..."It was at St. Katherine's dockside next to London's Tower Bridge... men waited there between 1827 and 1828, building storehouses and vaults. The piece of railing was from the barring of vaults... from the flagstones of St. Katherine's Dock, hard by the Tower".
Despite the traditions of transportation referred to here, Australian historians for generations have looked over various information concerning linkages between English expansionism, merchant activity, and names which ought to be mentioned in terms of England's maritime heritage - and overlooked a few topics as well. Of course, today, the old-fashioned (and Imperialistic!) Boy's Own outlook, combined with the film industry flavours, arising from the mere mention of the sixteenth and seventeenth century English pirates, tends to intrude on sensible discussions.
One literary mistake has been in promoting Hakluyt as a much-respected commentator on maritime matters, deflecting attention from other promoters of navigation, including John Dee (1527-1607) who is discussed in later chapters here. Correcting this error assists us in seeing how an entire tradition developed to the point where such "relics" could be sent from St. Katherine's Dock in London, to Sydney, Australia... as though they might be meaningful.
An early mention of Timor is dated 6 January, 1514. Ships had just gone to Java and Timor, and the Portuguese had already brought syphilis into a new area. Timor (Dili) was founded probably in 1516. Some early Portuguese settler names were da Costa and Hornay. Timor remained a Portuguese colony until 1976, and in its own way escaped the massive de-colonialisation seen elsewhere in South-East Asia after World War Two. So for some 250-to-460 years, people on Timor had continually ignored nearby Australia - only 285 miles away. Spain as a colonial power, meanwhile, was far better off in and near the Pacific Ocean, with the Philippines.
By a combination of bad luck and failure of analysis, however, Portugal failed to find a second place of strategic value in geopolitics. Spain also found another useful location - more or less; the "Darien area", site of the present Panama Canal, a quicker route from the Iberian Peninsula to the Pacific than Portugal had ever found. The Scottish and the English were later to recognise the Darien area as of prime strategic value - the English as they pursued their usual anti-Spanish and anti-Catholic vendetta; and to their cost, the Scots with their ill-fated Darien Company adventures of the 1690s.
Spain from Mexico could send an annual treasure ship to the Philippines, guaranteeing trading value (as an extension of credit) from a close proximity to China to a variety of European traders in the region coveting trade with Canton. The Philippines became far more useful as a colony for Spain, that Timor could be for Portugal, while all Portugal could cling to near China was the port of Macao.
By 1516 came the first settlement of East Timor, finally Dili, a
Portuguese colony there until 1976. So by 1770, with the
explorations of Cook, the Portuguese already been 250 years
offshore of Australia; while the Dutch later claimed South
Kenneth Gordon McIntyre, The Secret Discovery of Australia: Portuguese Ventures 250 Years before Capt. Cook. Revised. Sydney, Pan, 1977., pp. 215-216.
Mapping The Great Southern Land - Australia:
One view is that "Australia" first appeared, inaccurately, on a map about 460 years ago, drawn in 1540 by Sebastian Munster, professor of Hebrew at Basel University. This view of Australia joined Africa to the west and to south-east Asia in the east. By 1635, Dutchman Willem Blaeu had drawn India and adjacent islands. This was the first map to depict what is now known as Cape York, and influenced later work by Dutchmen Willem Jansz, Dirk Hartog and Gerrit Frederikszoon de Witt.
By 1641, a world map by Henricus Hondius showed parts of Cape
York associated with Terra Australis Incognita. The
English "privateer-navigator" William Dampier mapped the
north-western coast of Western Australia. About 1744, the
Englishman Emmanuel Bowen produced the first map showing "only
Australia". In 1804, the first circumnavigator of the island
continent, Matthew Flinders, then held by the French on
Mauritius, became the first to suggest use of the name
Australia, when writing to Sir Joseph Banks in
Britain. (Reported 31 March 2001 in Australia)
See a useful article, "Setting the Flinders record strait on Matthew Flinders and French explorer Nicholas Baudin in The Australian newspaper, 9 April, 2002, p. 10, by Leslie R. Marchant of Notre Dame University, who has spent 50 years researching William Dampier and French exploration of Australia. Marchant suggests here that Flinders did not circumnavigate Australia in full. Australia's first proper circumnavigator was Philip Parker King in The Mermaid in 1817.
On Flinders' genealogy, see Geoffrey C. Ingleton, Matthew Flinders: Navigator and Chartmaker. Genesis Pubs. Ltd., and Hedley Australia, 1986.
Ernest Scott, The Life of Capt. Matthew Flinders, RN. Sydney, Angus and Robertson, 1914. Flinders was related to Sir John Franklin. See G. F. Lamb, Franklin - Happy Voyager - Being the Life and Death of Sir John Franklin. London, Ernest Benn Ltd., 1956.
Australia came to the world's attention only slowly. A kind of folklore persists in today's Australia, that Phoenicians or Egyptians had been to Australia long ago. Either on the West Australian coast, perhaps about the Kimberleys area, or on the other side of the continent, a little way up the Hawkesbury River on the New South Wales coast near Sydney. Slowly, by the proliferation of legends and speculations from antiquity, by accidental and deliberate discovery by Dutch mariners, by virtue of an occasional shipwreck, by the discoveries of Capt. James Cook, by Britain's determination from 1786 to create a convict colony - somewhere - for the disposal of people "unfit to remain in the kingdom" of George III... Australia came to be known to the rest of the world.
Imaginative writers have worked... The Great Southern Land
becomes a fantasy-utopia in Gabriel de Foigny, The Southern
Translated by David Fausett. Syracuse University Press, 1993.
Popularisers have worked on Australia, journalists,
anthologists, patriots and critics, to explain how Australia's
virtues and how it would develop. The noted Australian leftist
historian, Professor Manning Clark of Australian National
University in Canberra, in the first volume of his synoptic history
of European Australia, tended to discuss Iberian Pacific explorers
who got lost rather too east of eastern Australia to be exciting or
relevant, some of them overly-concerned about "the land of the Holy
Spirit", not to speak of gold. However, given the establishment of
a British convict colony, Clark also touched on another major
spiritual point.... Is criminality a question of inheritance - or,
heritability? It seems, the answer is no, but the argument is
C. M. H. Clark, A History of Australia: From the Earliest Times to the Age of Macquarie. Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 1962. (Vol. 1 of a series) C. M. H. Clark, 'The Origins of the Convicts transported to Eastern Australia, 1787-1852', Historical Studies, Australia and New Zealand, Vol. 7, Parts 1 and 2, November 1955-May 1957., Part 1, pp. 121-135, Part 2, pp. 314-327.
Feelings about metaphorical rape, unhappy fate, sometimes
strange destiny, and real and literary melancholy form other
attitudes, and become other ways to view the history of how
Australia and the Pacific came to world attention. Alan Morehead by
1976 wrote of "the fatal impact", the metaphorical rape of the
Pacific. Here, some feelings persisted, since Robert Hughes, who
knew Morehead, followed the mood, with The Fatal Shore, a
book which retains a flavour of 1970s Australian historiography,
when actually, by the late 1970s, Australian historians were
beginning to diversify views on the European settlement of their
country. (While this present book is coloured with the melancholies
of one of humanity's ugliest industries - slaving.)
Robert Hughes, The Fatal Shore: A History of the Transportation of Convicts to Australia, 1787-1868. London, Pan Books/Collins, 1988. Alan Morehead, The Fatal Impact: An Account of the Invasion of the South Pacific, 1767-1840. Middlesex, England, Penguin, 1976.
Thoughts on the way Australia came to the attention of the rest of the world are tinged with sombreness, then. This might be a literary construction, but the construction is based on emotional realities. No-one writes a poem, song or instrumental music in praise of how Australia was settled by Europeans. The sombreness can suit prose literature but it does not suit poetry at all. It seems then that prose is all the associated maritime history will ever be marked by...
Leaping into time
Movements in the English view of the world after 1500:
Elsewhere in the world?
By 1480, before Columbus' time on the water, two ships had sailed from Bristol to find "the island of Brazil", but were storm-turned back after only eight weeks' sail. A few further attempts were made by the English in the following decade. John Cabot, a Genoese who had once been to Arabia, moved to Venice in 1460, became a merchant adventurer, and settled in Bristol in 1489. By 1490, Cabot was with Bristol men trying to solve "the riddle of the Atlantic", leading in person, and in 1494 "he may actually have sighted the North American coast."
In 1495 Cabot went to London, as news of Columbus' success in
the New World had spread, to suggest to Henry VII a voyage should
be made to "the Indies". Spain protested, as this would be in
violation of the Tordisellas Line declared by the Pope in 1494. But
Cabot and his three sons, Sebastian, Lewis and Sancius had already
gained a patent from the king to go "to all places", east, west and
north", but not south in Spanish waters. They were obliged to pay
the king one fifth of their profits. Maybe Lewis and Sancius did
not sail, but John took his son Sebastian on Matthew leaving
Bristol on 2 May 1497, and would sail to the sea off Newfoundland,
"full of fish". It is thought that in 1498, the Cabots got a second
patent from Henry VII, and sailed, when John died at sea. In 1499,
Sebastian sailed again, but soon transferred his allegiance to
Spain, not returning to Bristol till 1516, gaining wide sea-faring
experience in the interim. In 1517, Henry VIII sent or allowed
Cabot and Sir John Perte to try to find a north-west passage to
"the East". So began England's long love-affair with the
non-existent North-West Passage, imagined to split Canada to make
for easy sea passage to Cathay.
J. A. Brendon, Great Navigators and Discoverers. London, George Harrap and Co., 1929., p. 51 in a chapter on Columbus, and also on Cabot.
By 1527, the Bristol merchant Robert Thorne, an English trader
in Seville, Spain, whose father had sailed with the Cabots, was
writing secretly to King Henry VIII that it was possible to reach
the Eastern spice islands (Malaku, The Moluccas of Indonesia, or,
Malacca.) via the North Pole. ]
Giles Milton, Nathaniel's Nutmeg, Or, The True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader who Changed the Course of History. Penguin Books, 1999/2000. On Thorne's father, Brendon, Navigators and Discoverers, pp. 158-159.
Robert Thorne, ("a writer of Bristol"), had become aware of
Portuguese relations with India and submitted a project to Henry
VIII to find a passage to India. Since the Portuguese defended
their hard-won route by the Cape of Good Hope, Thorne's idea was to
sail by some north-west passage. So two voyages were mounted, one
about 1527, another about 1537, both ending in failure. In 1580
another attempt to find a north-west passage also failed.
Ramkrishna Mukherjee, The Rise and Fall of the East India Company: A Sociological Appraisal. Bombay, Popular Prakashan, 1973. [Also, New York, 1974]., p. 60.
James A. Williamson, The Age of Drake. London, Adam and Charles Black, 1938., p. 13. For the Dutch experience, see Cornelis CH. Goslinga, The Dutch in the Caribbean and on the Wild Coast, 1580-1680. Assen, The Netherlands, Van Gorcum and Co., Dr., H. J. Prakke and H. M. G. Prakke, 1971.
Some rethinking seemed necessary. In October 1527, Cortes
despatched three ships under his kinsman Alvaro de Saavedra across
the Pacific from New Spain in America, to re-examine on Magellan's
expedition and to establish a Spanish claim to the Spice Islands.
Two vessels were lost here, but Saavedra went to the Philippines,
then to the Moluccas, where the Spaniards were at war with the
The Portuguese made belated efforts which might have given them New Guinea, but they did not enjoy that outcome. The Moluccas were disputed as they lay on a new international border, the boundary of the papal division of land and water between Spain and Portugal. (The Papal division was termed the Tordesillas Capitulacion of 1494 - The Tordesillas Line.)
Magnificent presentations on the exploration of the Pacific, and
attitudes to this new ocean, are given in Oskar H. K. Spate's book,
The Pacific Since Magellan. (Canberra, Australian National
University Press, 1979-1988.)
With Vol. 1 entitled The Spanish Lake. Vol. 2, Monopolists and Freebooters; Vol. 3, Paradise Found and Lost.
Spate ends his first volume with quoting essayist Montaigne sombrely on the spirits of early colonialism and mercantilism: blood and iron and "the sweet lies of multitudes of men". An anti-Spanish song decorates the opening of Spate's Chapter 1, Vol. 2, Monopolists and Freebooters.
Given the traditional anti-Spanish prejudices of the British
sailor-pirate, it remains to be asked why, after 1788, so few
British ships ever bothered the Spanish in the Philippines before,
say 1810? But in fact they did bother, it is just that we read
about it little... A colonel of the East India Company army who had
commanded artillery for Clive of India at the Battle of Plassey,
Robert Barker, visited the Philippines in 1762.
Alan Valentine, The British Establishment, 1760-1784: An Eighteenth Century Biographical Dictionary. Two Vols. Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 1970., Vol. 1, p. 48. Burgess wries, in 1762, "The Phillippines Islands taken by an expedition fitted out from Madras." James Burgess, The Chronology of Indian History. Delhi, Cosmo Pubs., 1972., p. 219, with no other details.
In 1779, a Baron of the Scottish Exchequer, Sir John Dalrymple,
suggested attacking Spanish colonies from the Cape of Good Hope or
Robert J. King, '"Ports of shelter and refreshment..": Botany Bay and Norfolk Island in British naval strategy, 1786-1808', Australian Historical Studies, Vol. 22, 1986., p. 202. Christopher Hibbert, King Mob: The Story of Lord George Gordon and the Riots of 1780. London, Longmans Green, 1958., p. 25.
An MP married to one of the New York Loyalist family, Susanna De
Lancey, Sir William Draper, died 1787, once a colonel at Madras,
led troops to capture Manila, finding a ransom for it of 1 million
- which was never paid.
Valentine, British Establishment, Vol. 1, p. 267.
In the 1790s was the Nootka Crisis between Britain and Spain
over hegemony of the Nootka Sound area, a rich source of seal fur,
and an area once imagined to be near the entrance to the fabled
north-west passage. Shortly by way of fulfilling this old English
tradition, the Enderby whalers of Blackheath, London, wished to
conduct punitive expeditions against South American coastal cities
using convicts gathered from Sydney. Here, the Enderbys may have
had in mind such moves as the 1797 plan to conquer Manila in the
Philippines. An expedition assembled at Penang, the later Duke of
Wellington having had some hand in the planning, but this was
called off due to the need to fight Tipu Sultan of Mysore.
Some of this latter material is drawn from the early chapters of D. G. Hall, Henry Burney: A Political Biography. London, Oxford University Press, 1974.
Occasionally, maritime and other historians make remarks about matters genealogical as related to the European settlement of Australia and New Zealand. But as far as I know, no one has ever collected such remarks and ascertained their correctness, or any implications of any correctness. Ascertaining is what I hope to begin here...
From 1920 or so, to the present day, a number of unproved stories have circulated that some notable Australians have genealogies that stretch back deeply in time, more interestingly, more deeply than Australians, with their relatively short history, can easily imagine. Are these supposedly long genealogies useful for any research purposes? I have wondered.
Is it said but unproved that Australia's famous bush poet,
"Banjo" Paterson, was descended from William Paterson who inspired
the founding of the Bank of England in the 1690s.
Clement Semmler, The Banjo of the Bush: The Life and Times of A. B. Paterson. Second edition. St. Lucia, Queensland, University of Queensland Press, 1974.
It is said, but unproved, that Hannibal Hawkins Macarthur,
sometime banker in New South Wales, of the wool-producing pastoral
family, was descended from the famous Hawkins family of Plymouth,
who helped administer the English navy of Tudor and post-Tudor
times - and also helped originate the English slave trades.
Macarthur was once chairman of Bank of Australia which failed in
1843, and he never recovered financially.
He is of the Devon seafaring family, Hawkins, p. 142 of Lennard Bickel, Australia's First Lady: The Story of Elizabeth Macarthur. North Sydney, Australia, Allen and Unwin, 1991.
We get closer to any such inner dynamics in maritime history when we look again at Raleigh and Drake - famous English pirates.
"Drake, he's in his hammock and a thousand mile away
Captain, art thou sleeping there below?
Slung a-tween the round shot in Nombre Dios Bay
And dreaming all the time of Plymouth Hoe.
Yonder lumes the island, yonder lie the ships
With sailor lads a-dancing heel-an-toe
And the shore lights flaming and the night-tide dashing
He sees it all so plainly as he saw it long ago.
Drake he was a Devon man and ruled the Devon seas
Captain, art thou sleeping there below?
Roving thro' his death fell, he went with heart at ease
And dreaming all the time of Plymouth Hoe.
"Take my drum to England, hang it by the shore
Strike it when your powder's running low.
If the Dons sight Devon, I'll quit the part of Heaven,
And drum them up the Channel as we drummed them long ago."
Drake, he's in his hammock, till the great Armada's come,
Captain, art thou sleeping there below?
Slung a-tween the round shot, list'ning for the drum
And dreaming all the time of Plymouth Hoe.
Call him on the deep sea, call him up the Sound
Call him when ye sail to meet the foe.
Where the old trade's plying and the old flag flying
They shall find him ware and waking as they found him long ago!"
Drake's Drum - Henry Newbolt
Anchors into Australia's heritage of maritime history
In 1937, maritime historian Boyd Cable (actually Ernest Andrew
Ewart), wrote: "The New Zealand Shipping Company now owns 16
vessels of a total 181,245 tons, and the Federal [Steam Navigation
Company] 14 of 142,293 tons, a grand total of 323,538 tons Gross
Register. The Federal Line is a direct descendant of the old firm
of Money, Wigram and Co., which through Wigram's former partnership
with Greens of the Blackwall Yard, can trace a continuous
connection with shipping and the shipbuilding business to the times
of Queen Elizabeth, and of Phineas and Peter Pett, who were amongst
the first of the ship-designers capable of "building" a ship on
paper first and then reproducing her on the stocks. In 1805, the
Blackwall Yard and business had gone through a succession of
inheritance to the Greens, when Wigram bought a share, and the firm
of Green & Wigram, while turning out a constant string of East
Indiamen and Blackwall frigates, began to build Indiamen for their
own private trading."
Boyd Cable (Ernest Andrew Ewart), A Hundred Year History of the P&O: Peninsula and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, 1837-1937. London, Ivor Nicholson and Watson, 1937., p. 222.
Cable/Ewart wrote this in more jingoistic days, before the traumas of World War Two and the subsequent decolonisation of India and South-East Asia. Was he correct about the direct descent of the Green-Money-Wigram operations from the days of Queen Elizabeth, when English mariners were developing their remarkable reputation? What has such a timeframe got to do with Australasia, so far from London, 180 years and more after Elizabeth died? Is there anything direct and coherent to talk about? The answer is yes! Part of that coherence is English engagement in slavery.
Genealogy apart, there are also questions of themes and their relevance... as below
"Palmerston in 1844 said if all the crimes committed by the
human race from creation to the present day [were added] they would
not equal, nor exceed, the amount of guilt incurred by mankind in
connection with 'this diabolical Slave Trade'."
Christopher Lloyd, The Navy and the Slave Trade. London, Longmans Green, 1949., p 4.
K. G. Davies writes: "The outrage to morality which the Middle
Passage must always be should not obscure the fact that it was also
an outrage to sound economics".
K. G. Davies, The Royal African Company. [Orig. 1957] London, Longmans, 1960., p. 72, p. 96, p. 294.
In 1959, Charles Bateson, author of The Convict Ships
wrote, (p. 2): "Its (Australia's) colonisation was the rich reward
garnered from (James) Cook's voyagings, but its settlement was not
effected in the tradition and spirit which had inspired the great
navigator. The circumstances of the founding of Australia are
divorced entirely from those of its discovery and exploration by
Cook. The mainspring was very different, and in the conditions of
the day, and the state of man's thoughts and outlook at the time,
it was perhaps inevitable that it should be so. Never in history
were a country's beginnings laid by such unhappy and unenthusiastic
pioneers as the seven hundred and fifty-nine convicts of
Australia's first fleet and the thousands of prisoners who followed
them into an unwanted exile."
Charles Bateson, The Convict Ships, 1787-1868. [Orig. 1959] Sydney, A. H. and A. W. Reed, 1974.
I propose here that, in general, four major themes need to be considered - in the sense that they should be monitored simultaneously-as-events-unfold. The point is that particular English families tended to have members almost continually involved in the four themes - most of the time. Particularly if and when this involved the continued suppression of Ireland.
The themes are:
(1) English engagement in chattel slavery, partly as an aid to expansionism;
(2) Rivalry with the Spanish;
(3) Continued subjugation of Ireland;
(4) Determination to expand the powers and prerogatives of parliament against the powers and prerogatives of royalty.
By the 1760s, say, these themes had coalesced into typical
British patriotism, the development of which has been well treated
by Linda Colley.
Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707-1837. London, Yale University Press, 1992.
These are powerful themes, certain to be able to engage the ambitions and energies of England's most notable families, notable merchants, intrepid mariners and jingoists of all kinds, including pirates and adventurers - which is what happened, all initially in the midst of a religious revolution, and with little sense of the hideous realities of slavery, the continual violent physical atrocities and the spiritual tortures needed to sustain slavery. Two questions arise for England between 1530 and 1630: what is a religious revolution worth? What might it actually be about?
With the English case, some answers might be no good advertisement for religion: War on people who are different, who are others. Ferocity based on ethnocentricity. Militant racism. Rapacious ambition rationalized as part of a national interest.
Endnotes: Follows some scattered notes on merchants whose names or associates may be mentioned in the next chapter, Chapter 2:
Endnote1: The role of Portugal in assisting the rise of the European slave trades is outlined in Gilbert Renault, The Caravels of Christ. (Translated by Richmond Hill). London, Allen and Unwin, 1959.
Endnote2: By 1540: An English Baltic timber merchant was William
Watson, (who had successors), King's merchant for Dansike. By 1556
we find the English Merchant Adventurers are sailing to Russia for
masts, tarre, hemp.
Robert G. Albion, Forests and Sea Power: The Timber Problems of the Royal Navy, 1652-1862. Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1926., p.154.
Endnote3: 1585: Origins of career of Peter Pett,
Written from East Smithfield, 8 April 1585: William Winter to Burghley (SP Dom. cciv.21 signed and addressed): Re matters of reckoning between Mr Hawkyns and Peter Pett. This Peter Pett was probably cousin of Phineas Pett. See Andrews, Ships, Money and Politics, p. 24-25. By about 1626 the main providers of shipping include Robert Tranckmore, Zephonias Foard, John and Matthew Graves at Limehouse; at Ratcliffe was John Taylor, Peter Pett at Wapping, John Dearsley, Nehemiah Bourne, Thomas Hawkins, John Bright. At Blackwall was William Stephens, and at Ipswich, John, Jeremey and Robert Cole; and at Yarmouth, Thomas Barker. Williamson, Age of Drake, p. 265.
Endnote4: Follows in rough chronological order a list of noted
Spanish traders, or, members of "the Spanish Company". It will be
seen that most of them were unconnected with the preoccupations of
the Winters and the Hawkins' - how to meld expanding commerce in
foreign areas, Thames-side shipbuilding, ship redesign and
associated business, and managing a growing navy. It is noticeable
that Sir William Winter's name is not included as a Spanish
trader by historians of business life.
As well, even mere notes on these Spanish traders indicate the dangers of defining any individual merchant by merely one set of his associations (which applies also to the Hawkins'). One of the secrets of the enlargement of English trade was that men became skilled in managing multiple memberships, multiple sets of commodity-handling, multiple trade/industry associations, and multiple investment portfolios; the latter helping them spread their risks. (It is said at times that a merchant might be "founder" of a given trading company; it is far better to regard them as co-founders.)
It will be seen from the citations that apart from Brenner's book, information on merchants is gained from sources which are still disparate.
Endnote5: Died in 1589, Merchant and MP William Saltern (died
1589), of the Spanish Co by 1583. A trader with Spain and Portugal,
he was once instructed to cease trading with Spain.
(Hasler, The House of Commons, 1558-1603, p. 334.) He married Elizabeth, daughter of George Snigge a merchant and Mayor of Bristol in 1574. Saltern in 1585 had himself proposed a voyage to America.
Endnote6: Grocer Thomas (The Elder) Gore (1526-1597). Spanish
Co. Son of Thomas Gore. Other family, not known.
Willan, Elizabethan Foreign Trade, p. 202.
Endnote7: William Marsham a founder of the Spanish Co. Active by
Brenner, Merchants and Revolution, p. 18.
Endnote8: Coloniser Henry Ostrich. Active by 1551. Spanish Co.
He married a daughter of Sebastian Cabot. He was related to William
Ostrich a Spanish trader and a governor of the Andalusia Co.
Willan, Studies in Elizabethan Trade, p. 97. Williamson, Age of Drake, pp. 14ff.
Endnote9: Spanish merchant in Spanish Co. by 1583, dealing with
Spain and Portugal, and MP William Saltern (died 1589). He was once
instructed to cease trading with Spain. He married Elizabeth,
daughter of George Snigge, merchant and mayor of Bristol in 1574.
Saltern in 1585 proposed a voyage to America.
(Hasler, The House of Commons, 1558-1603, p. 334.)
Endnote10: Lord Mayor Sir George (George II) Barne (died 1593),
of the Spanish Co. A "Darienite". Co-founder of Muscovy Co. Lord
Mayor in 1586. Wool trader, of Woolwich. Son of Lord Mayor George I
Barne, and Alice Brooke. George II was a founding director of the
Spanish Co. when it was chartered in 1577; his father was in deep
in Spanish trade from the 1560s onwards. George II married Anne
Hamel, England and Russia, pp. 25-29, p. 109, pp. 151-157, says this man [with William Garrard?] from 1553 helped finance a voyage to Guinea, with vessels loaned by the king - and on this voyage Capt. Thomas Wyndham failed Garrard.
Endnote11: Hamel says by 1557 there were 140 Russia Co.
investors/merchants in London including John Dimmock a member of
Drapers' Co. Hamel (p. 109) names the founders after 1554 of the
Russia Co. as six nobles including Wm Howard Lord High Admiral and
Earl of Effingham, Sebastian Cabot, Sir Henry Sidney, Sir William
Cecil, Sir William Peter, Sir George Barne(s), William Gerard,
Thomas Offley the elder, John Dymock, and since they had been in
Russia, Richard Chancellor, Stephen Burrough, John Buckland, Arthur
Edwards, George Burton, Thomas Banister, John Sparke. Hamel, p.
211, says Sparke was one of four men going to Persia with Arthur
Burke's Extinct Baronetcies for Garrard of Lamer. On merchant genealogy, see also R. G. Lang, 'Social Origins and Social Aspirations of Jacobean London Merchants', Economic History Review, 2, V, 27, 1974., pp. 28-47.
Barne here was governor of the Muscovy Co. in 1580 and 1583. He
had eight sons including William, also of the Muscovy Co., who
inherited trade and government links and had a brother-in-law
Walsingham. In 1577 the Privy Council sought George Barne's opinion
on setting up a company to pursue Spanish trade. He was sometimes
called on to value prize ships.
Hasler, The House of Commons, 1558-1603, p. 367). Hasler p. 571 for his daughter's marriage to Walsingham; Hasler, p. 295 for his daughter's marriage to MP George Rivers. Conyers Read, Mr Secretary Walsingham and the Policy of Queen Elizabeth. Vol. 3, Oxford University Press at the Clarendon Press., Vol. 3, pp. 425ff.; Brenner, Merchants and Revolution, pp. 18-20, p. 63. See Burke's Landed Gentry; Burke's Extinct Baronetcies for Garrard, p. 214.
Endnote12: London Lord Mayor Sir Richard Saltonstall (died
1601), Founder, Spanish Co., active by 1577. East India Co., an
original subscriber. Governor of Merchant Adventurers. Son of
Gilbert Saltonstall of Yorkshire, mother not known. Married to
Susan Poyntz. He had a natural daughter, Abigail Baker. Was of
Company the Skinners. He helped finance a war of 1594-1595. He had
earlier with his own family lived in the Netherlands.
(Hasler, Hasler, The House of Commons, 1558-1603, p. 335.) His daughter is noted in Burke's Extinct Baronetcies, p. 106. (Andrews, Elizabethan Privateers, pp. 114ff.) Saltonstall was London Lord Mayor 1597-1598. He was knighted as "Richard Saltingstall". (Newton, Colonising Puritans, pp. 78ff, p. 177.; Brenner, Merchants and Revolution, p. 18. Burke's Extinct Baronetcies for Wyche.) He seems to be grandfather of writer Wye Saltonstall, son of Sir Samuel Saltonstall. One Charles Saltonstall was for many years a mariner. Their father's (?) cousin sailed in 1630 with undertakers of the plantation of Massachusetts Bay where a son and grandson went after him to America.
Endnote13: Richard Staper (died 1608), Cloth trade, Company
Clothworkers, co-founder Spanish Co., also a co-founder of the
Turkey Co, active about 1577. Married Denise Hewitt; had sons,
Hewitt, Rowland and Richard. Staper had a brother James who is left
His family is given in Willan, Studies in Elizabethan Foreign Trade, p. 192. Staper and Osborne send out "trade researchers" Fitch and Newbury who are treated in another chapter. He became second governor of the Levant Co. in 1592, a co-founder of Levant Co. and a key figure in establishment of the East India Company. Brenner, Merchants and Revolution, p. 18, pp. 114ff.)
Endnote14: Thomas Cordell (died 1612), Mercers Co., EICo, Venice
trade, Morocco trade. Spanish Co., Also London alderman and
Privateer. He was in the Morocco trade by 1560s. He is also seen
as: "master of Mercers Company, a director of Spanish, East India
and Levant companies, an investor in privateering, in Ireland and
Virginia; a backer of Drake and Fenton", and "a pioneer of sugar
refining in England".
Andrews, Elizabethan Privateers, pp. 76ff. Willan, Studies in Elizabethan Foreign Trade, p. 11.) This man in 1583 was an associate of William Garroway (Simon Garroway worked for Henry Farrington and Co. at Marseilles) and he sent the ship Royal Merchant 300 tons trading to Brazil, owned by himself, William Holliday and William Garraway, leasing it to George Clifford, third Earl Cumberland for privateering in 1594, as in Theodore K. Rabb, Enterprise and Empire, p. 111. Brenner, Merchants and Revolution, p. 18.
Endnote15: 1551-1553: London Lord Mayoralty period for colonist,
Andrew Judd, co-founder of the Muscovy Co. He married first wife
Joan Mirfyn and secondly Mary Mathew.
Website on Winter naval family. Hasler, The House of Commons, 1558-1603, p. 403 on John I Smythe (d.1608). Seen as an alderman in Hasler, p. 97 on Sir William Morgan d 1583. Who's Who / Shakespeare's England, p. 231. Williamson, Age of Drake, pp. 14ff. GEC, Peerage, Strangford, p. 358.
Note: For genealogical material given in this
book, I have mainly relied on Vicary Gibbs, (Ed.), G. E. Cokayne,
(GEC), The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great
Britain and the United Kingdom. [Extinct, extant or dormant].
London, St. Catherine's Press, 1910. In Vols. See also, John Burke
and John Bernard Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of
Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies of England, Ireland and
Scotland. Second edition. London, John Russell Smith.
[Facsimile of the 1964 edition]. Hereafter, Burke's Extinct
Baronetcies. At various times I have also consulted:
Charles Kidd and David Williamson, (Eds.), Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage. London, Macmillan's/Debrett's Peerage Ltd., 1985.
Patrick Montague-Smith, (Ed.), Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage. Australasian edition. London, Debrett's Peerage, 1980.
H. A. Doubleday and Lord Howard De Walden, (Eds.), The Complete Peerage or A History of the House of Lords and All Its Members from the earliest times. Vol. XIII, Peers Created 1901 to 1938. London, The St Catherine Press Ltd., 1940.
Burke's, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry. London, Edn. 18.
Michael Stenton, (Ed.), Who's Who of British Members of Parliament: A Biographical Dictionary of the House of Commons. Peterhouse, Cambridge, UK. Harvester Press. 1976-1978. (Four Vols). Vol. 1, 1832-1885. Vol. 2, 1886-1918.
Sir Leslie Stephen and Sir Sidney Lee, The Dictionary of National Biography: From the Earliest Times to 1900. London, Milford/Oxford University Press, 1917ff.
Ian R. Christie, British non-elite MPs, 1715-1820. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1995.
Alan Valentine, The British Establishment, 1760-1784: An Eighteenth Century Biographical Dictionary. Two Vols. Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 1970.
Sir Lewis Namier and John Brooke, The History of Parliament: The House of Commons, 1754-1790. [Two Vols.] London, Parliament Trust of Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1964.
Australian Dictionary of Biography. Vols. 1-12. London, Melbourne University Press, 1966ff. Also, CD-ROM versions: The Pioneer Series, 1788-1888. Published in 1994. The Federation Series, 1889-1918. Published in 1993. Informit, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, City Campus, Melbourne.
The International Genealogical Index (IGI), microfiche version, Scotland; Salt Lake City, Utah, Genealogical Society of Utah, 1992 for England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Channel Islands, Australia and New Zealand. Also, computerised versions, various.
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