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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
AT LOS ANGELES




THE BLACKWALL FRIGATES



THE

BLACKWALL FRIGATES



BY



BASIL LUBBOCK

Author of "The China Clippers": "The Colonial Clippers,
'•Round the Horn before the Mast"; "Jack Derringer,
a Tale of Deep Water" ; and "Deep Sea Warriors"



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS AND PLANS



BOSTON
CHARLES E. LAURIAT CO.

BOOKSELLERS, IMPORTERS AND PUBLISHERS



PRINTED IN QREAT BRITAIN.



Printed and bound in Great Britain by
JAMES BROWN & SON (Glasgow) Ltd.
Nautical Publishers
52-58 Darnley Street. Glasgow

First printed tn 1922



^






'^



VK5T



Dedication



Dedicated to the Blackwall MidsUpmiie.



i7914J_



PREFACE

The Blackwall frigates form a connecting link between
the lordly East Indiaman of the Honourable John
Company and the magnificent P. & O. and Orient
liners of the present day.

They were first-class ships— well-run, happy ships,
and the sailor who started his sea life as a midshipman
aboard a Blackwaller looked back ever afterwards to
his cadet days as the happiest period of his career.

If discipline was strict, it was also just. The train-
ing was superb, as witness the number of Blackwall
midshipmen who reached the head of their profession
and distinguished themselves later in other walks of
life. Indeed, as a nursery for British seamen, we shall
never see the like of these gallant little frigates.

The East still calls, yet its glamour was twice as
alluring, its vista twice as romantic, in the days of
sail; and happy indeed was the boy who first saw the
shores of India from the deck of one of Green's or
Smith's passenger ships.

Fifty years ago, the lithographs of the celebrated

Blackwall liners to India and Australia could be bought

at any seaport for a few shillings. Nowadays, these

old ship portraits are eagerly snapped up by a growing

vii



viii PREFACE

army of collectors and have become very hard to find
and very expensive to buy, I therefore hope that the
illustrations in this book will be appreciated.

The design plans give an indication of our advance
in naval architecture — an advance which is little short
of amazing, when one remembers that there are still
many men alive who served on these old ships — ships
which were more akin to the adventurous keels of Drake
and Dampier than to the giant boxes of machinery
afloat to-day.

My thanks are due to these old seamen, survivors of
a by-gone era, for all their help and interest, and if
this book is able to bring back a happy memory to a
single one of them, my task will not have been in vain.



CONTENTS



P)(3S

Introduction .. - - - i



PART I.— HISTORY OF THE BLACKWALL YARD. IGll
The Blackwall Yard ... - -

The Pioneer Ship of the Yard— The Globe
Sir Henry Johnson the Elder - - ■ - -

King's Ships built at Blackwall in the Seventeentn Century
Prince Rupert visits the Blackwall Yard
Pepysian Anecdotes ... - -

" Old Hob " -

Johnson the Younger .-.. -
Indiamen of the Eighteenth Century - - - -

Liberality of the East India Company

John Perry .... - -

The Brunswick Dock and Masthouse - - • -

The Friend of the Family . . . • -

King George III. drinks with a " True Blue "
George Green ... - -

Sir Robert Wigram ... - -

The General Goddard. East Indiaman

The True Briton, East Indiaman - - - - - 40

East Indiamen owned by Sir Robert Wigram - - - 42

The Last of John Company's East Indiamen - - - - 44

Henry Green apprenticed as a Shipwright - - - 46

The Cam Brae CdiSi\ti - - - - " ' " ''^

The Sir Edward Paget, Pioneer Ship of Green s Blackwall Lins - 46
The Origin of Green's House-Flag - - - - ' ^'^

The Pa^s/ run Man-of-War Fashion - - - - - -^^

The Shipwrights' Strike on the Thames - - - * ^^

PART II.— A VOYAGE OUT EAST IN THE GOOD OLD
DAYS.

The Merchant Service - - - ■ • " -49

East India Shipping Notice - • ' - , - - RO

An India Husband • - ' • ' * ' ^^

The Earl of EaUarres • , • ' • ' ' ^^



836
24



25
27
29
29
30
30
31
33
33
34
35
35
36
37
39



CONTENTS



Fast Passages of East Indiamen

Smuggling on an East Indiaman

Passage Money and Cabin Furniture -

The London River in 1830

Gecrdie Brigs ■ . . . .

The Betsy Cams ....

The Brotheyly Lovt ....

Geordie Characteristics -.-...
Heavy Horsemen. Light Horsemen and River Pirates
Shipping in the River ... ...

A Typical East Indiaman - . . . .

The Commander of an East Indiaman and his Emoluments
Officers' Allowances in the H.E.I.C. ....

The Foremast Hands of an Indiaman

An Indiaman leaving Gravesend ....

A Farmyard at Sea - ....

Getting underweigh ......

All in the Downs .......

Sail Drill .......

Down Channel - ....

The Last Sailing Ships in the Royal Navy

The Syraondites .......

Joseph White of Cowes •-....

Routine aboard an Indiaman .....

Pirates - .-....

The Black Joke and Benito de Soto ....

Madeira -. - .,..
Tapping the Admiral . - ...
Calcutta and the Hooghly River in the Days of John Company
St Helena Festivities - -...

PART III— THE BLACKWALLERS.

The Divided Interests of Green and Wigram
Dicky Green .....

Money Wigrara & Sons
Joseph Somes .....

The Old Java

T & W. Smith

Duncan Dunbar - - - . .

The Captains of the Biackvvall Frigates
Discipline - - . . .

Midshipmen .....

Crews .....

Passengers ....



- 62

- 52

- 53

- 53

■ 55

• 56
67
58

• 69
60
62
63
65
66
67
69
70
71
73
76

79
80
82
84
85
95
95
96

100



102
103

104
104
106
107
109
110
112

ua

120
121



CONTENTS xi



123
127
129
130
131
133

- 135

- 138

- 138

- 139

- 140



Ship Races .•-••"

Calcutta and its Shipping . - • - -

Madras . - - **

The Australian Boom - -'''
The Design of the Blackwall Frigates - - - -

Sail and Rigging Plans - ■ * "

Seaworthiness - ""'"'
Speeds of the Blackwallers compared

Cyclones - - ■ ' "

Ffi^MOW in a Cyclone, 1843 - ■ ' ' "

iV:/oKa>-c;! in the Calm Centre, 1845

Fourteen Persons Suffocated aboard the Mana homts - - 141

Earl of Hardvuickc's Cyclone Log - - " "

The Dark Blood-red Cyclone Sky - - - "

Dampier's Hurricane Cloud - -

Calcutta Cyclone, 1864 - - - " \^ ,. ^

Hotspur and Alnwtck Castle nde out a Cyclone at the sandheads

St. Lawrence in the Madras Cyclone of 1871 -

The Old Seruigapaiam - - "'

The Mystery of the Madagascar - - " "

Owen Glendower - T can call spirits from the vasty deep •

Agtncourt—\ Midshipman's Log - - - '

Prince of Wales and Queen— ^Tmed Merchantmen -

Bucephalus and Ellenborough - - - • '

Gloriar.a and Tudor - -"'*

The Lordly Monarch - -""'

The/i//>-e(i—Lccky's First Ship . - • -

Marlborough's Fast Voyage to Australia

A Race to India in 1853 - - "'

The Burning of the Sutle] . , ■ -

The Blenheim in a Cyclone - • ■ - -

Dress on the Trafalgar - , . - -

The Loss of the Dalkousie • • ' '

Origin of Marshall's House- Flag ^ = - -

Toynbee's Hotspur - ' '

y^K^/esey's famous Figurehead - - - ■ "

Fast Voyage to Melbourne and back by the A nglesey

Roxburgh Castle and Will Terris - - ■ "

The Northfleei Tragedy - - •

The famous Kent - - -

Captain Clayton - - ' ' ' ^^^

Rowing a Thousand-ton Ship - - ' *

Captain Clayton uses Oil in a Cape Horn Gale - ■ - !»'

Kent's Narrow Escape from Icebergs -



141
• 142

- 143

- 143

- 146

- 148

- 150

- 132

- 154

- 157

- 160

- 160

- 161

- 161

- 162

- 167

- 169

- 170

- 170

- 172

- 173

- 176

- 177

- 180

- 180

- 184

- 185

- 183

- 191



200



xii CONTENTS



9^aa
202

211

213

216

222

229

229



237
237

238



The Wreck of the Dunbar - ■ - • '

Willis* Wonder. The Tweed - - - ' '

Punjaub takes the 10th Hussars to the Crimea

The Punjaub and Assaye in the Persian War

PM)j/aM6 in the Indian Mutiny - • " ■

Laying the Indo-European Cable in the Persian Gulf

Captain Stuart of The Tweed - - - - "

Some Sailing Records of The Tweed 230

The Sunderland-built Blackwallers 235

The old La Hogue .-.-•■

The Agamemnon - - -

The Burning of the Eastern Monarch - - - ■

Alnwick Castle. Clarence and Dover Castle - - - -238

Blackwallers in the Coolie Trade - - - - - 239

- 240

Newcastle - - ■ ' '

Windsor Castle - - 2*^

Extracts from the Log of the Windsor Castle - - - 246

Dismasting of the Windsor Castle - - - - - 250

The Ghost of the Norfolk - - - - - - 262

The Speedy Suffolk 264

The Wreck of the Duncan Dunbar - - - 264

Tyburnias Pleasure Cruise - - - - - "264

The old Holmsdale - - - - " ' "266

A Cargo of the Lincolnshire .. - - 266

The Coolie Ship Lmcelles - - - - " "267

The Lady Melville and the Great Comet of 18G1 - - - 267

The Yorkshire's Madman - - - 269

A Tragedy of Sea Sickness • - - - - - 270

A Shark Story - - 271

Renown and Malabar - - - - - - - 272

Passages to Melbourne 1860 (Comparison between London Frigate-
built Ships and Liverpool Clipper-built Ships) - - - 273

Blackwallersof 1861 274

St. Lawrence .-. - - - 275

Shannon and the Lord Warden - - - 273

An -Apprentice's Joke ..-. - - 278
The two Essex's - - - - 279

The Last of the Dunbars - - - - - - 280

Devitt & Moore's Parramatta .-. - - 281
The Iron Blackwaller Superb ...... 282

A Passenger's Log .... - - 283

The Salving of the Superb 287

The Carlisle Castle - 233

Macquarie {ex-Melbourne)— The Last of the Blackwallcrs - - 290



CONTENTS xiii

APPENDICES.
Appendix 1.— The Blackwall Frigates - . • - 299

II. — Old Station Lists ..... 394

» HI- — Abstract Log of the Hotspur. London to Calcutta,

18G3 310

». IV. — Abstract Log of The Tweed. First Passage to

Melbourne. 1873 - - . . . 314

» V. — Abstract Log of Holmsdale, Melbourne to London,

1883 317

.. VI. — Sail Area and Spar Plan of the Clarence • - 324



ILLUSTRATIONS



The Commands of Captain Methven— Ships: Mor,
Fori William, Marlborough, Valetta, Celestial,
Blenheim, Charles Forbes and Charlotte

Brunswick Dock and Masthouse

George Green - - -

Sir Robert VVigram, Bart., M.P.

Launch of the Edinburgh at BlackwaH Yard

Earl of Balcarres — East Indiaman -

Devonshire — East Indiaman - - - •

L'Antonio — Tlie celebrated piratical slaver and
other black craft lying in the Bonny River

Dicky Green - - -

Captain Furnell, of the Senngapatam

Captain Methven . . - - -

Captain Toynbee, of the Hotspur

Captain E. Le Poer Trench, of the Newcastle

Captain Taylor, of the Alnwick Castle

The Esplanade Moorings, Calcutta - - -

Model of the Sailing Ship St. Lawrence

Shore of Ramkistopore with Newcastle and iS.
Mauritius - - -

Southampton, after the Calcutta Cyclone, 1864

Western Star, tug Union and Countess Elgin, after
Calcutta Cyclone, 1 864 . - - -

St. Lawrence

Seringapatam

Figurehead of the old " Seringy'"

Madagascar

Owen Glendower

Prince of Wales

The Queen

Barham

Monarch

Alfred -

Marlborough

Blenheim

Hotspur -

xiv



- Frontispiece
To face page 34
36
38
48
52
«^

84
104
104
110
110
112
112
128
132

143
144

144
- 148
150
150
154
156
156
158
162
102
164
168
170
178



ILLUSTRATIONS



XV



A nglesey -. - • -
Kent and the Tea Clippers — Kent in Foreground,
Robin Hood next, Elle'n Rodger and Oueensbro -
Kent in the Thames . - - - -

Captain M. T. Clayton, of the Keyit -
A'^wi amongst the Ice in 18G1

A'e«/ passing Owen Glendower {Kent is ship to right)
The Tweed ..-■■•

The Tweed, ofi Gravesend
The Tweed under all Plain Sail
Captain William Stuart, of The Tweed
Agamemnon
A Wearside Shipyard
Alnwick Castle
Newcastle
La Hogue
Windsor Castle
Suffolk ■
Duncan Dunbar
Holmsdale
Yorkshire
Malabar
Star of India
True Briton
St. Lawrence
Alumbagh
Essex
Superb ■
Parramatia

Melbourne (afterwards Macquane)
Carlisle Castle ■
Macquane (ex- Melbourne)



To face page 1 82

186
190
190
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200
214
214
230
230
236
236
240
244
244
250
260
264
268
268
274
274
278
278
282
282
286
286
290
290
294



PLATES.



Old East India Flags
East India Ships -

10-Gun Brig Daring

TJie Jolly Roger

House-flags

Key Plan, Calcutta Cyc

Midship Section of The Tweed

Plan of Cabins — Ship Malabar



To face page



.one, 5th October, 1864



10

32

42

78

92

118

142

212

272



THE BLACKWALL FRIGATES

INTRODUCTION.
"THE VANISHED GLORY OF THE SEA.'»

What of the Ships. O Carthage !
Carthage, what of the Ships?

IN considering the history and development of that
most wonderful of all the works of man— the ship,
one finds that the subject can be divided into six periods,
namely : —

The Day of the Coracle,

The Day of the Galley Slave,

The Golden Age of Sail,

The Iron Age,

The Day of Steam and Steel,

The Oil Age.
The sea has ever been more conservative than the land,
for the simple reason that at sea every attempt to step
forward has to be paid for in human life rather than
coin of the realm.

Thus it is that we find each of these periods bringing
its own type to perfection just at the moment when the
following period has become its serious rival. And
always the old type died hard, often living on for years
after the new had attained its passport of utility and
had become firmly enthroned in its place.



2 THE BLACKWALL FRIGATES

It has ever been the proud boast, aye, and bitter
cry, of old seamen that they saw their own type at its
perfection and at its perfection vanquished and turned
out of the high road into the low road by the new type,
whose newness and imperfection they had been forced
to know by bitter experience.

But this is the law of evolution or progress— call it
what you will.

Think, in this batter'd Caravanserai
Whose Doorways are alternate Night and Day,

How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp
Abode his Hour or two, and vent his way.



In the evolution of the ship, I have called the third
of these periods the "Golden Age of Sail "; and it is
in this period that the Blackwall Frigates take their
place.

It was a long period, dating from Columbus and
overlapping into the present day— a glorious period
of heroism and adventure, of great sea fights and
circumnavigations. Its ships dyed the Narrow Seas
with blood from their scupper holes. Its seamen
made traverse after traverse until all the coasts were
charted, so th^t at the present da}' the great business of
the world navigator is dead for want of new lands to
discover. It was also the age when the ship, as a
work of art and beauty, came to its perfection. We
can hardly realise in these days the picturesque charm
and brilliancy which were added to the seascape by
masts and yards. Many of our artists still cling
lovingly to the old wooden hull, the sail with its
rainbow-like reflections, and the web-like top-hamper,
all curving in the wind. And others, in spite of every
clever trick of imagery, fail to conceal the ugliness of



INTRODUCTION 8

the present day monster, and are obliged to introduce
the brown sails of fishing smacks or the gleaming canvas
of a yacht in order to bring life and brightness into
their pictures.

No other work of man's hands can compete against
the full-rigged ship in artistic beauty. She was ever
a delight to the eye, not only of the seaman but of the
landsman. Let us try to visualise her through the
500 years of her glory, and see what a feast our artistic
senses have missed, what a pageantry of movement and
colour our ancestors enjoyed.

The first ship to cross the horizon without oars is the
ship of the Tudors. Let us imagine her surging steadily
along before a " fair gale," a bone of white under her
long beak-head; note the bright colours in her painted
sails and gaudy streamers, note her crimson battle
cloths in the waist, her gilded tops and yellow sides,
her carved balconies and knight-heads. Her swivel
guns on the lofty fore and after castles, her sakers,
minions, falcons and falconets, her fowler chambers
and curtails, are damascened and inlaid with quaint
mottoes and royal coats-of-arms. The gunports on
the main deck were circular in those days, and her
cannon, demi-cannon and culverins poked their grinning
tompions through carved wreaths of gilded foliage
along a strake of sky-blue paint, below which her
sides were yellow down to a narrow black band along
her water-line.

Her Admiral wore a bosun's whistle in token of his
high office. Her gentlemen adventurers wore thigh
boots of deerskin and lace-edged gauntlets, velvet
coats and lace collars, with ostrich feathers in their
rakish hats; her men-at-arms clanked about the deck
in coats of mail; whilst her " musique " and trumpets



4 THE BLACKWALL FRIGATES

were all gloriously apparelled in the Tudor coat-of-arms,
and her "tarpaulins" went aloft in red sea caps and red

breeches.

Such a ship as the Great Harry or the Henri Grace de
Dieu, the Ark-Royal or the Revenge was a very kaleido-
scope of brilliant colours. With her music playing
" Loath to Depart " and her company saluting with a
" great shout, " she passes with a royal pride, whilst
all the other nations let fly their topgallant sheets and
lower their topsails in token that she is " Mistress of the
Narrow Seas. "

Queen Elizabeth owed much, if not all, of her glory
and renown to her ships and seamen. Sea power,
then as now, was the first necessity of a great nation;
whilst all the crooked trails to the new Eldorados led
across the high seas — thus the education of the noble-
man, of the young blood, and of the country squire was
considered incomplete unless a voyage had been made to
the Spanish Main as a gentleman adventurer. The
talk, both in Courts and taverns, was all of ships and
courses, cross-staffs and quadrants, bonnets and
crowsfeet, knees and timbers — of scudding before fair
gales and lying a-trie in tempests — of how to gain the
weather gauge and how to avoid a foul hawse. It was
at this date that so many of the sea terms, now part
of the English language, first came to be used by the
landlubber. What wonder, then, that Shakespeare
found himself perfectly at home with the idioms of the
sea, and used them so correctly that many a sailor has
declared that he must have had sea experience. The
study of navigation, of seamanship and of naval archi-
tecture, was not only confined to the great sea captains
and master shipwrights, but was hotly debated on by
the Oueen and her Court, the squire and his retainers,



INTRODUCTION 5

the lawyer and his clients, aye and by the parson and
his parishioners.

The innovations and improvements introduced during
this great period of the ship's history are given by
Sir Walter Raleigh.

They include :—

(1) The striking of topmasts

(2) The chain pump

(3) Weighing anchor by the " capisten '*

(4) New sails, such as

(a) bonnet and drabler for the courses
(fe) topgallant sails

(c) staysails

(d) spritsails and sprit topsails.

Raleigh, indeed, was one of the accoucheurs at the
birth of the full-rigged ship. From his day to the
present the main essentials in the sail and rigging
plan of a ship have not altered, and a " tarpaulin " of
Queen Elizabeth would have found little difficulty in
handling one of Nelson's frigates or even a avooI clipper,
neither would those of us who have trimmed the yards
of a four-mast barque been much adrift with Howard's
flagship, the Ark-Royal.

The Elizabethan galleon was followed by the stately
first-rate of the Stuarts, such as the Sovereign of the Seas,
better knoAvn during the Dutch wars as the Royal
Sovereign, one of the stoutest ships in the Navy of
Charles II.

Of the Stuart Navy, there is little that we do not
know, thanks to Samuel Pepys, to the two Dutch
marine painters, William Van de Velde the elder and
William Van de Velde the younger, and to the many
beautiful builders' models which have survived to the
present day. The two Van de Veldes, in many a
great canvas, have shown us Britain's battle line at



6 THE BLACKWALL FRIGATES

close grips with the French and Dutch, whilst in their
pencil drawings and sketches of individual ships we
are able to study not only the lines but also the lavish
ornamentation which, in those days, both in elaborate
carving and profusion of gold leaf, was carried to such
excess that regulations had at last to be framed in order
to limit the money to be spent in decorative gingerbread
work.

During the Dutch wars the Grand Fleet of Great
Britain often numbered as many as 80 sail of the line.
For the first time ships were manoeuvred in the various
formations by signals from the tlagship, such as the
following : —

When the Admiral would have all the ships to fall into the order of
" Battailia. " the Union flag shall be put at the raizen peak of the Adm\ral
ship — at sight whereof the Admirals of other squadrons are to answer
it by doing the like. — [Duke of York's 5u/>/'.V"i;-n/i:rv Otdft, 1665.)
To engage, a red flag on the fore topmast-head.
To make sail, a red flag in the spritsail topmast shrouds.
To come into the wake or grain of us, a red flag on the miien shrouds. —

(Spragge's Sfa Book. 167-:.1

The tactics of naval warfare are specially interesting
during the Dutch wars of the Restoration.

Prince Rupert and General Monck, the victors of
St. James' Day, the heroes of the " Four Days' Fight, "
and two of the most stubborn fighters of their age,
were also the first of British Admirals to make essay of
the principle of " cutting off a part of the enemy fleet
and containing the rest"; at the same time they never
missed an opportunity of encouraging individual
initiative and the immediate seizure of opportunities.

For instance. Prince Rupert in his " Additional
Fighting Instructions," July, 1666, lays down the
following: —

To divide the enemy's fleet. — In case the enemy have the wind of u?
and we have sea room enough, then we are to keep the wmd as close



INTRODUCTION 7

a? we can lie until such time as we see an opportunity by gaining their
wakes to divide their fleet; and if the van of our fleet find that they
have the wake of any part of them, they are to tack and to stand in,
and strive to divide the enemy's body, and that squadron which shall
pass first being come to the other side is to tack again, and the middle
squadron is to bear up upon that part of the enemy so divided, which the
last is to second, either by bearing down to the enemy or by endeavouring
to keep off those that are to windward, as shall be best for the service.

It was Rupert also who laid down the axiom that
" the destruction of the enemy must always be made
the chief est care. "

And in his instructions to Sir Edward Spragge, his
Vice-Admiral in 16G6, he says: —

When the Admiral of the Fleet makes a weft with his flag, the rest
of the flag officers are to do the like, and then all the best sailing ships
are to make what way they can to engage the enemy, that so the rear
of our fleet may the better come up; and so soon as the enemy makes
a stand then they are to endeavour to fall into the best order they can.

We have to wait for 100 years or even more before
we see Rupert's teaching acted upon without doubt or
hesitation, for on the death of the Prince the school
of Penn and James II., which laid down fixed and
formal rules for every manoeuvre of the sea fight,
to break away from which was a court-martial offence,
gained the upper hand and thus killed all enterprise
and initiative, tying the hands of our Admirals through
years of indecisive fighting.

It may, perhaps, surprise a good many of our sailors to
learn that the celebrated " Nelson touch " had been
partly thought out and acted upon as far back as the
days of the Merry Monarch.*

' ^Prince Rupert's tactics on the fourth day of the Four Days' Fight
were entirely Nelsonian. Rupert, in fact, was a long way ahead of his
times. Most people, who have only half studied the period, look upon
him as a mere swashbuckling General of Horse, who knew nought of
the sea. and even history students have failed to give him his due as a
naval tactician. In sea tactics he was one of the first masters of the
age. He was also a skilled navigator and the inventor of the vernier



8 THE BLACKWALL FRIGATES

I seem lo have wandered a long way from the
pageantry of the sea and to have become enmeshed
in naval tactics.

Let us imagine then what a grand sight this mighty
fleet of the Merry Monarch's must have been when under
sail with all its attendant firc-ships, bomb-ketches,
yachts, hoys and shallops. How the great yellow hulls
must have gleamed in the sunlight ! Fancy too the



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