Antique 1840 Narrative of the Loss of H.M.S. Royal George Book

Antique 1840 Narrative of the Loss of H.M.S. Royal George Book

Code: 19144

£285.00 Approx $360.76, €332.56, £285
(1 in stock)
 

For sale is an exceptionally rare Antique 1840 Narrative of the Loss of H.M.S. Royal George Book. The covers of which are made from H.M.S Royal George timbers of the wreck.

 
Published by Portsmouth: Published by S Horsey Sen, 43 Queen street in 1840. This small book has all its 99 pages and platelets. Original morocco-backed wooden boards made from timbers of the wreck of the Royal George, boards split, but holding firm, edges gilt. This also has a more recent newspaper article about the ship in the back. 
 
HMS Royal George was a ship of the line of the Royal Navy. A first-rate with 100 guns on three decks, she was the largest warship in the world at the time of her launch on 18 February 1756. Construction at Woolwich Dockyard had taken ten years.
 
The ship saw immediate service during the Seven Years' War, including the Raid on Rochefort in 1757. She was Admiral Sir Edward Hawke's flagship at the Battle of Quiberon Bay in 1759. The ship was laid up following the conclusion of the war in 1763, but was reactivated in 1777 for the American Revolutionary War. She then served as Rear Admiral Robert Digby's flagship at the Battle of Cape St Vincent in 1780.
 
Royal George sank on 29 August 1782 whilst anchored at Spithead off Portsmouth. The ship was intentionally rolled so maintenance could be performed on the hull, but the roll became unstable and out of control; the ship took on water and sank. More than 800 people died, making it one of the most deadly maritime disasters in British territorial waters.
 
Several attempts were made to raise the vessel, both for salvage and because she was a major hazard to navigation in the Solent. In 1782, Charles Spalding recovered fifteen 12-pounder guns using a diving bell of his own design. From 1834 to 1836, Charles and John Deane recovered more guns using a diving helmet they had invented. In 1839 Charles Pasley of the Royal Engineers commenced operations to break up the wreck using barrels of gunpowder. Pasley's team recovered more guns and other items between 1839 and 1842. In 1840, they destroyed the remaining structure of the wreck in an explosion which shattered windows several miles away in Portsmouth and Gosport.
 
On 28 August 1782 Royal George was preparing to sail with Admiral Howe's fleet on another relief of Gibraltar. The ships were anchored at Spithead to take on supplies. Most of her complement were aboard ship, as were a large number of workmen to speed the repairs. There were also an estimated 200–300 relatives visiting the officers and men, 100–200 "ladies from the Point [at Portsmouth], who, though seeking neither husbands or fathers, yet visit our newly arrived ships of war", and a number of merchants and traders come to sell their wares to the seamen. The reason most of her complement were aboard was because of fear of desertion: all shore leave had been cancelled. Accordingly, every crew member then assigned to the vessel was aboard it when it sank, except for a detachment of sixty marines sent ashore that morning. The exact number of the total crew on board is unknown, but is estimated to be around 1,200. 
 
At seven o'clock on the morning of 29 August work on the hull was carried out and Royal George was heeled over by rolling the ship's starboard guns into the centreline of the ship. This caused the ship to tilt over in the water to port. Further, the loading of a large number of casks of rum on the now-low port side created additional and, it turned out, unstable weight. The ship was heeled over too far, passing her centre of gravity. Realising that the ship was settling in the water, the ship's carpenter informed the lieutenant of the watch, Monin Hollingbery, and asked him to beat the drum to signal to the men to right the ship. The officer refused. As the situation worsened, the carpenter implored the officer a second time. A second time he was refused. The carpenter then took his concern directly to the ship's captain, who agreed with him and gave the order to move the guns back into position. By this time, however, the ship had already taken on too much water through its port-side gun ports, and the drum was never sounded. The ship tilted heavily to port, causing a sudden inrush of water and a burst of air out the starboard side. The barge along the port side which had been unloading the rum was caught in the masts as the ship turned, briefly delaying the sinking, but losing most of her crew. Royal George quickly filled with water and sank, taking with her around 900 people, including up to 300 women and 60 children who were visiting the ship in harbour. 255 people were saved, including eleven women and one child. Some escaped by running up the rigging, while others were picked up by boats from other vessels. Kempenfelt was writing in his cabin when the ship sank; the cabin doors had jammed because of the ship's heeling and he perished. Waghorn was injured and thrown into the water, but he was rescued. The carpenter survived the sinking, but died less than a day later, never having regained consciousness. Hollingbery also survived.
 
Many of the victims were washed ashore at Ryde, Isle of Wight, where they were buried in a mass grave that stretched along the beach. This land was reclaimed in the development of a Victorian esplanade and is now occupied by the streets and properties of Ryde Esplanade and The Strand. In April 2009, Isle of Wight Council placed a new memorial plaque in the newly restored Ashley Gardens on Ryde Esplanade in memory of Royal George. It is a copy of the original plaque unveiled in 1965 by Earl Mountbatten of Burma, which was moved in 2006 to the Royal George Memorial Garden, also on the Esplanade.
 
A court-martial acquitted the officers and crew (many of whom had perished), blaming the accident on the "general state of decay of her timbers" and suggesting that the most likely cause of the sinking was that part of the frame of the ship gave way under the stress of the heel. Most historians conclude that Hollingbery was most responsible for the sinking. For example, naval historian Nicholas Tracy stated that Hollingbery allowed water to accumulate on the gundeck. The resulting free surface effect eventually compromised the ship's stability. Tracy concluded that an "alert officer of the watch would have prevented the tragedy ..."
 
This is an incredible piece of history, known for its great maritime loss. Not many of these books were produced with the original timbers of the ship. 
 
This will be sent via special delivery and dispatched within two working days. Happy to post internationally.