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This was not the first voyage of a steamer between England and America.  The Savannah made the passage from New York to Liverpool as early as 1819; but steam was only used occasionally during the voyage.  In 1825, the Enterprise, with engines by Maudslay, made the voyage from Falmouth to Calcutta in 113 days; and in 1828, the Curacoa made the voyage between Holland and the Dutch West Indies.  But in all these cases, steam was used as an auxiliary, and not as the one essential means of propulsion, as in the case of the Sirius and the Great Western, which were steam voyages only.

Ed.—the Sirius was originally built for the London to Cork route.  In April 1838 she made the first wholly steam-powered trans-Atlantic crossing, between Cork and New York, in 18 days 4 hours and 22 minutes compared with the average westbound passage of 40 days.


"In 1862 the steam tonnage of the country was 537,000 tons; in 1872 it was 1,537,000 tons; and in 1882, it had reached 3,835,000 tons."—Mr. Chamberlain's speech, House of Commons, 19th May, 1884.


The last visit of the plague was in 1665.


Roll of Edward the Third's Fleet.  Cotton's Library, British Museum.


 CHARNOCK'S History of Marine Architecture, ii. 89.


State Papers. HenryVIII. Nos. 3496, 3616, 4633.  The principal kinds of ordnance at that time were these:—The "Apostles," so called from the head of an Apostle which they bore; "Curtows," or "Courtaulx"; "Culverins" and "Serpents"; "Minions," and "Pot-guns"; "Nurembergers," and "Bombards" or mortars.


The sum of all costs of the Harry Grace de Dieu and three small galleys, was £7,708 5s. 3d. (S.P.O. No. 5228, Henry VIII.)


CHARNOCK, ii. 47 (note).


MACPHERSON, Annals of Commerce, ii. 126.


The Huguenots: their Settlements, Churches, and Industries, in England and Ireland, ch. iv.


MACPHERSON, Annals of Commerce, ii. 156.


Ibid. ii. 85.


PICTON'S Selections from the Municipal Archives and Records of Liverpool, p. 90.  About a hundred years later, in 1757, the gross customs receipts of Liverpool had increased to £198,946; whilst those of Bristol were as much as £351,211 in 1883, the amount of tonnage of Liverpool, inwards and outwards, was 8,527,531 tons, and the total dock revenue for the year was £1,273,752!


There were not only Algerine but English pirates scouring the seas.  Keutzner, the German, who wrote in Elizabeth's reign, said, "The English are good sailors and famous pirates (sunt boni nautae et insignis pyratae)."  Roberts, in his Social History of the Southern Counties (p. 93), observes, "Elizabeth had employed many English as privateers against the Spaniard.  After the war, many were loth to lead an inactive life.  They had their commissions revoked, and were proclaimed pirates.  The public looked upon them as gallant fellows; the merchants gave them underhand support; and even the authorities in maritime towns connived at the sale of their plunder.  In spite of proclamations, during the first five years after the accession of James I., there were continual complaints.  This lawless way of life even became popular.  Many Englishmen furnished themselves with good ships and scoured the seas, but little careful whom they might plunder."  It was found very difficult to put down piracy.  According to Oliver's History of the City of Exeter, not less than "fifteen sail of Turks" held the English Channel, snapping up merchantmen, in the middle of the seventeenth century!  The harbours in the south-west were infested by Moslem pirates, who attacked and plundered the ships, and carried their crews into captivity.  The loss, even to an inland port like Exeter, in ships, money, and men, was enormous.


Naval Tracts, p. 294.


This poem is now very rare.  It is not in the British Museum.


There are three copies extant of the autobiography, all of which are in the British Museum.  In the main, they differ but slightly from each other.  Not one of them has been published in extenso.  In December, 1795, and in February, 1796, Dr. Samuel Denne communicated to the Society of Antiquaries particulars of two of these MSS., and subsequently published copious extracts from them in their transactions (Archlœ. xii. anno 1796), in a very irregular and careless manner.  It is probable that Dr. Denne never saw the original manuscript, but only a garbled copy of it.  The above narrative has been taken from the original, and collated with the documents in the State Paper Office.


See, for instance, the Index to the Journals of Records of the Corporation of the City of London (No. 2, p. 346, 1590–1694) under the head of "Sir Walter Raleigh."  There is a document dated the 15th November, 1593, in the 35th of Elizabeth, which runs as follows:—"Committee appointed on behalf of such of the City Companies as have ventured in the late Fleet set forward by Sir Walter Raleigh, Knight, and others, to join with such honourable personages as the Queen hath appointed, to take a perfect view of all such goods, prizes, spices, jewels, pearls, treasures, &c., lately taken in the Carrack, and to make sale and division (Jor. 23, p. 156).  Suit to be made to the Queen and Privy Council for the buying of the goods, &c., lately taken at sea in the Carrack; a committee appointed to take order accordingly; the benefit or loss arising hereon to be divided and borne between the Chamber [of the Corporation of the City] and the Companies that adventured (157).  The several Companies that adventured at sea with Sir Walter Raleigh to accept so much of the goods taken in the Carrack to the value of £12,000 according to the Queen's offer.  A committee appointed to acquaint the Lords of the Council with the City's acceptance thereof (167).  Committee for sale of the Carrack goods appointed (174).  Bonds for sale to be sealed (196). . . . Committee to audit accounts of a former adventure (224 b.)."


There were three sisters in all, the eldest of whom (Abigail) fell a victim to the cruelty of Nunn, who struck her across the head with the fire-tongs, from the effects of which she died in three days.  Nunn was tried and convicted of manslaughter.  He died shortly after.  Mrs. Nunn, Phineas's mother, was already dead.


 It would seem, from a paper hereafter to be more particularly referred to, that the government encouraged the owners of ships and others to clear the seas of these pirates, agreeing to pay them for their labours.  In 1622, Pett fitted out an expedition against these pests of navigation, but experienced some difficulty in getting his expenses repaid.


See grant S. P. O., 29th May, 1605.


An engraving of this this remarkable ship is given in Charnock's History of Marine Architecture, ii. p. 199.


The story of the Three, or rather Two Ravens, is as follows:—The body of St. Vincent was originally deposited at the Cape, which still bears his name, on the Portuguese coast; and his tomb, says the legend, was zealously guarded by a couple of ravens.  When it was determined, in the 12th century, to transport the relics of the Saint to the Cathedral of Lisbon, the two ravens accompanied the ship which contained them, one at its stem and the other at its stern.  The relics were deposited in the Chapel of St. Vincent, within the Cathedral, and there the two ravens have ever since remained.  The monks continued to support two such birds in the cloisters, and till very lately the officials gravely informed the visitor to the Cathedral that they were the identical ravens which accompanied the Saint's relics to their city.  The birds figure in the arms of Lisbon.


The evidence taken by the Commissioners is embodied in a voluminous report.  State Paper Office, Dom, James I., vol. xli. 1608.


The Earl of Northampton, Privy Seal, was Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports; hence his moving in the matter.  Pett says he was his "most implacable enemy."  It is probable that the earl was jealous of Pett because he had received his commission to build the great ship directly from the sovereign, without the intervention of his lordship.


This Royal investigation took place at Woolwich on the 8th May, 1609.  The State Paper Office contains a report of the same date, most probably the one presented to the King, signed by six ship-builders and Captain Waymouth, and counter-signed by Northampton and four others.  The Report is headed "The Prince Royal: imperfections found upon view of the new work begun at Woolwich."  It would occupy too much space to give the results here.


Alas! for the uncertainties of life!  This noble young prince—the hope of England and the joy of his parents, from whom such great things were anticipated— for he was graceful, frank, brave, active, and a lover of the sea,—was seized with a serious illness, and died in his eighteenth year, on the 16th November, 1612.


Ed.—the following entry appears in Wikipedia:

HMS Prince Royal was a 55-gun Royal Ship of the English Royal Navy, built by Phineas Pett at Woolwich and launched in 1610.

In 1641 she was rebuilt by Peter Pett I at Woolwich as a 70-gun ship.  During the time of the Commonwealth of England she was named
Resolution and fought in most battles of the First Anglo-Dutch War.  By 1660 she was carrying 80 guns.  In 1663 she was rebuilt at Woolwich Dockyard by Phineas Pett II as a 92-gun first rate ship of the line.

In 1665, during the Second Anglo-Dutch War, she served as flagship of Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich at the Battle of Lowestoft on 3 June. A year later in 1666, as Vice-Admiral George Ayscue's flagship in the Four Days Battle, on the third day of which she ran aground on the Galloper Sand. When Dutch fireships began approaching the stranded ship, her crew panicked and struck her colours. Ayscue was forced to surrender to Lieutenant-Admiral Cornelis Tromp aboard the Gouda. Lieutenant-Admiral Michiel de Ruyter ordered
Prince Royal to be burned, then a general Dutch policy with captured prizes to prevent them from being recaptured later in a battle.


Pett says she was to be 500 tons, but when be turned her out her burthen was rated at 700 tons.


This conduct of Raleigh's was the more inexcusable, as there is in the State Paper Office a warrant dated 16th Nov., 1617, for the payment to Pett of 700 crowns "for building the new ship, the Destiny of London, of 700 tons burthen."  The least he could have done was to have handed over to the builder his royal and usual reward.  In the above warrant, by the way, the title "our well-beloved subject," the ordinary prefix to such grants, has either been left blank or erased (it is difficult to say which), but was very significant of the slippery footing of Raleigh at Court.


Sir Giles Overreach, in the play of "A new way to pay old debts," by Philip Massinger.  It was difficult for the poet, or any other person, to libel such a personage as Mompesson.


Pett's method is described in a paper contained in the S. P. O., dated 21st Oct., 1626.  The Trinity Corporation adopted his method.


Ed.Sovereign of the Seas was ordered in August 1634 on the personal initiative of Charles I, who desired a giant Great Ship to be built.  Originally ordered as a 90-gun first rate ship of the line, when launched on 13 October 1637 she carried 102 bronze guns (at the King's insistence).  Later renamed Sovereign, and then Royal Sovereign, she served from 1638 until 1697, when she was destroyed by fire at Chatham.


Memoirs of the Life and Services of Rear-Admiral Sir William Symonds, Kt., p. 94.


Pett's dwelling-house at Rochester is thus described in an anonymous history of that town (p. 337, ed. 1817):—"Beyond the Victualling Office, on the same side of the High Street, at Rochester, is an old mansion, now occupied by a Mr. Morson, an attorney, which formerly belonged to the Petts, the celebrated ship-builders.  The chimney-piece in the principal room is of wood, curiously carved, the upper part being divided into compartments by caryatydes.  The central compartment contains the family arms, viz., Or, on a fesse, gu., between three pellets, a lion passant gardant of the field.  On the back of the grate is a cast of Neptune, standing erect in his car, with Triton blowing conches, &c., and the date 1650."


SYMONDS, Memoirs of Life and Services, 94.


In the Transactions of the Institution of Naval Architects for 1860, it was pointed out that the general dimensions and form of bottom of this ship were very similar to the most famous line-of-battle ships built down to the end of last century, some of which were then in existence.


According to the calculation of Mr. Chatfield, of Her Majesty's dockyard at Plymouth, in a paper read before the British Association in 1841 on shipbuilding.


The phrase "wooden walls" is derived from the Greek.  When the city of Athens was once in danger of being attacked and destroyed, the oracle of Delphi was consulted.  The inhabitants were told that there was no safety for them but in their "wooden walls,"—that is their shipping.  As they had then a powerful fleet, the oracle gave them rational advice, which had the effect of saving the Athenian people.


An account of these is given by Bennet Woodcroft in his Sketch of the Origin and Progress of Steam Navigation, London, 1848.


See Industrial Biography, pp. 183-197.


The story is told in Scribner's Monthly Illustrated Magazine, for April 1879.  Ericsson's modest bill was only $15,000 for two years' labour.  He was put off from year to year, and at length the Government refused to pay the amount.  "The American Government," says the editor of Scribner, "will not appropriate the money to pay it, and that is all.  It is said to be the nature of republics to be ungrateful; but must they also be dishonest?"


This six-bladed propeller proved totally unsatisfactory in service and was quickly replaced with a four-bladed model.


Memoirs of the Life and Services of Rear-Admiral Sir William Symonds, Kt., p. 332.


Originally published in Longman's Magazine, but now re-written and enlarged.


Popular Astronomy.  By Simon Newcomb, LL.D., Professor U. S. Naval Observatory.


Biographia Britannica, vol. vi. part 2, p. 4375.  This volume was published in 1766, before the final reward had been granted to Harrison.


This date is not correct, as will be found in the subsequent statement.


Harrison's compensation pendulum was afterwards improved by Arnold, Earnshaw, and other English makers.  Dent's prismatic balance is now considered the best.


Ed.―the Gridiron Pendulum was an improved clock pendulum invented by Harrison around 1726, which didn't change in length with temperature so that its period of swing stayed constant with changes in ambient temperature.  It consisted of alternating zinc and iron rods assembled so that their different thermal expansions (or contractions) cancel each other out.  The diagram shows its operation.


See Mr. Folkes's speech to the Royal Soc., 30th Nov., 1749.


Ed.—the Board of Longitude was the popular name for the Commissioners for the Discovery of the Longitude at Sea.  It was a British Government body formed in 1714 to solve the problem of finding longitude at sea.  The Board recognised that any serious attempt would be based on the recognition that the earth rotates through 15° of longitude every hour.  The comparison of time between a known place (e.g., Greenwich, Longitude 0°) and the local time would determine longitude.  Since local apparent time could be determined with some ease, the problem centred on finding a means of determining the time at a known place (e.g. Greenwich).


No trustworthy lunar tables existed at that time.  It was not until the year 1753 that Tobias Mayer, a German, published the first lunar tables which could be relied upon.  For this, the British Government afterwards awarded to Mayer's widow the sum of £5,000.


Ed.—the following description  appears in Wikipedia (an excellent animated image also appears, which illustrates the sextant's operation):

A sextant is an instrument generally used to measure the altitude of a celestial object above the horizon.  Making this measurement is known as sighting the object, shooting the object, or taking a sight.  The angle, and the time when it was measured, can be used to calculate a position line on a nautical or aeronautical chart.  A common use of the sextant is to sight the sun at noon to find one's latitude.

Held horizontally, the sextant can be used to measure the angle between any two objects, such as between two lighthouses, which will, similarly, allow for calculation of a position on a chart.


Sir Isaac Newton gave his design to Edmund Halley, then Astronomer-Royal.  Halley laid it on one side, and it was found among his papers after his death in 1742, twenty-five years after the death of Newton.  A similar omission was made by Sir G. B. Airey, which led to the discovery of Neptune being attributed to Leverrier instead of to Adams.


Ed.Latitude is an angular measurement in degrees ranging from 0° at the Equator to 90° at the Poles.  It therefore gives the location of a place on Earth, North or South of the Equator.

Lines of Latitude are the imaginary horizontal lines (particularly so in the Mercator projection) shown on maps and navigation charts.


Ed.Dead Reckoning is the process of estimating one's current position based upon a previously determined position, or fix, and advancing that position based upon known or estimated speeds over elapsed time, and course.  The disadvantage of 'traditional' dead reckoning in marine navigation is that the navigator needs to estimate the ship's 'course made good' and 'speed over the ground', both of which depend (among other things) on the effects of wind and current, which cannot be determined precisely.  And since new positions are calculated solely from previous positions, the errors of the process are cumulative, so the error in the position fix grows with time.  However, modern electronic Inertial Navigation Systems overcome these problems.


"This was equally the case with two other trades;—those of glass-maker and druggist, which brought no contamination upon nobility in Venice. Ina country where wealth was concentrated in the hands of the powerful, it was no doubt highly judicious thus to encourage its employment for objects of public advantage. A feeling, more or less powerful, has always existed in the minds of the high-born, against the employment of their time and wealth to purposes of commerce or manufactures. All trades, save only that of war, seem to have been held by them as in some sort degrading, and but little comporting with the dignity of aristocratic blood."— CABINET CYCLOPEDIA - Silk Manufacture, p. 20.


A Brief State of the Inland or Home Trade. (Pamphlet.) 1730.


A Brief State of the Case relating to the Machine erected at Derby for making Italian Organzine Silk, which was discovered and brought into England with the utmost difficulty and hazard, and at the Sole Expense of Sir Thomas Lombe.  House of Commons Paper, 28th January, 1731.


Self-Help, p. 205.


The Trade and Navigation of Great Britain considered, p. 94.


The petition sets forth the merits of the machine at Derby for making Italian organzine silk—"a manufacture made out of fine raw silk, by reducing it to a hard twisted fine and even thread.  This silk makes the warp, and is absolutely necessary to mix with and cover the Turkey and other coarser silks thrown here, which are used for Shute,—so that, without a constant supply of this fine Italian organzine silk, very little of the said Turkey or other silks could be used, nor could the silk weaving trade be carried on in England.  This Italian organzine (or thrown) silk has in all times past been bought with our money, ready made (or worked) in Italy, for want of the art of making it here.  Whereas now, by making it ourselves out of fine Italian raw silk, the nation saves near one-third part; and by what we make out of fine China raw silk, above one-half of the price we pay for it ready worked in Italy.  The machine at Derby contains 97,746 wheels, movements, and individual parts (which work day and night), all which receive their motion from one large water-wheel, are governed by one regulator, and it employs about 300 persons to attend and supply it with work."  In Rees Cyclopedia (art. 'Silk Manufacture') there is a full description of the Piedmont throwing machine introduced to England by John Lombe, with a good plate of it.


Sir Thomas Lombe died in 1738.  He had two daughters.  The first, Hannah, was married to Sir Robert Clifton, of Clifton, co. Notts; the second, Mary Turner, was married to James, 7th Earl of Lauderdale.  In his will, he "recommends his wife, at the conclusion of the Darby concern," to distribute among his "principal servants or managers five or six hundred pounds."


FLETCHER'S Political Works, London, 1737, p. 149.


One of the Murdocks built the cathedral at Glasgow, as well as others in Scotland.  The famous school of masonry at Antwerp sent out a number of excellent architects during the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries.  One of these, on coming into Scotland, assumed the name of Murdo.  He was a Frenchman, born in Paris, as we learn from the inscription left on Melrose Abbey, and he died while building that noble work: it is as follows:—

"John Murdo sumtyme calt was I
 And born in Peryse certainly,
 An' had in kepyng all mason wark
 Sanct Andrays, the Hye Kirk o' Glasgo,
 Melrose and Paisley, Jedybro and Galowy.
 Pray to God and Mary baith, and sweet
 Saint John, keep this Holy Kirk frae scaith."


The discovery of the Black Band Ironstone by David Musket in 1801, and the invention of the Hot Blast by James Beaumont Neilson in 1828, will be found related in Industrial Biography, pp. 111-161.


Note to LOCKHART'S Life of Scott.


This was stated to the present writer some years ago by William Murdock's son; although there is no other record of the event.


Ed.—the Wikipedia caption to this illustration reads:

"Schematic animation of Murdoch's sun and planet gears.  The Sun is yellow, the planet red, the reciprocating crank is blue, the flywheel is green and the driveshaft is grey.  Notice that the sun and flywheel rotate twice for every rotation of the planet when they have a 1:1 ratio of teeth."


See Lives of Engineers (Boulton and Watt), iv. pp. 182-4. Small edition, pp. 130-2.


Mr. Pearse's letter is dated 23rd April, 1867, but has not before been published.  He adds that "others remembered Murdock, one who was an apprentice with him, and lived with him for some time—a Mr. Vivian, of the foundry at Luckingmill."


Murdock's house still stands in Cross Street, Redruth; those still live who saw the gas-pipes conveying gas from the retort in the little yard to near the ceiling of the room, just over the table; a hole for the pipe was made in the window frame.  The old window is now replaced by a new frame."—Life of Richard Trevithick, i. 64.


Ed.—for an explanation of slide valves in general, and a schematic of Murdoch's 'long D slide valve' in particular, see this entry at Wikipedia.


Philosophical Transactions, 1808, pp. 124-132.


Winsor's family evidently believed in his great powers; for I am informed by Francis Galton, Esq., F.R.S., that there is a fantastical monument on the right-hand side of the central avenue of the Kensal Green Cemetery, about half way between the lodge and the church, which bears the following inscription—
    "Tomb of Frederick Albert Winsor, son of the late Frederick Albert Winsor, originator of public Gas-lighting, buried in the Cemetery of Pere la Chaise, Paris.
    "At evening time it shall be light.—Zachariah xiv. 7.
    "I am come a light into the world, that whoever believeth in Me shalt not abide in darkness.—John xii. 46."


Mr. Parkes, in his well-known Chemical Essays (ed. 1841, p. 157), after referring to the successful lighting up by Murdock of the manufactory of Messrs. Phillips and Lee at Manchester in 1805, "with coal gas issuing from nearly a thousand burners," proceeds, "This grand application of the new principle satisfied the public mind, not only of the practicability, but also of the economy of the application; and as a mark of the high opinion they entertained of his genius and perseverance, and in order to put the question of priority of the discovery beyond all doubt, the Council of the Royal Society in 1808 awarded to Mr. Murdock the Gold Medal founded by the late Count Rumford."


"Thus," says Sir Charles Babbage, "in a future age, power may become the staple commodity of the Icelanders, and of the inhabitants of other volcanic districts; and possibly the very process by which they I will procure this article of exchange for the luxuries of happier climates may, in some measure, tame the tremendous element which occasionally devastates their provinces."—Economy of Manfactures.


Koenig's letter in The Times, 8th December, 1814.


Koenig's letter in The Times, 8th December, 1814.


Date of Patent, 29th April, 1790, No. 1748.


Koenig's letter in The Times, 8th December, 1814.


Mr. Richard Taylor, one of the partners in the patent, says, "Mr. Perry declined, alleging that he did not consider a newspaper worth so many years' purchase as would equal the cost of the machine."


Mr. Richard Taylor, F.S.A., memoir in 'Philosophical Magazine' for October 1847, p. 300.


The price of a single cylinder non-registering machine was advertised at £900; of a double ditto, £1,400; and of a cylinder registering machine, £2,000; added to which was £250, £350 and £500 per annum for each of these machines so long as the patent lasted, or an agreed sum to be paid down at once.


Diary, Reminiscences, and Correspondence of Henry Crabb Robinson, Barrister-at-Law, F.S.A., i. 231.


After the appearance of my article on the Koenig and Walter Presses in Macmillan's Magazine for December, 1869, I received the following letter from Sir Rowland Hill:—

                                                                                            "January 5th, 1870.
Y DEAR SIR," In your very interesting article in Macmillan's Magazine on the subject of the printing machine, you have unconsciously done me some injustice.  To convince yourself of this, you have only to read the enclosed paper.  The case, however, will be strengthened when I tell you that as far back as the year 1856, that is, seven years after the expiry of my patent, I pointed out to Mr. Mowbray Morris, the manager of The Times, the fitness of my machine for the printing of that journal, and the fact that serious difficulties to its adoption had been removed.  I also, at his request, furnished him with a copy of the document with which I now trouble you.  Feeling sure that you would like to know the truth on any subject of which you may treat, I should be glad to explain the matter more fully, and for this purpose will, with your permission, call upon you at any time you may do me the favour to appoint.
                                                    "Faithfully yours,
                                                                 "ROWLAND HILL."

    On further enquiry I obtained the Patent No. 6762; but found that nothing practical had ever come of it.  The pamphlet enclosed by Sir Rowland Hill in the above letter is entitled 'The Rotary Printing Machine.'  It is very clever and ingenious, like everything he did.  But it was still left for some one else to work out the invention into a practical working printing-press.  The subject is fully referred to in the 'Life of Sir Rowland Hill' (i. 224, 525).  In his final word on the subject, Sir Rowland "gladly admits the enormous difficulty of bringing a complex machine into practical use," a difficulty, he says, which "has been most successfully overcome by the patentees of the Walter Press."


This article originally appeared in 'Good Words.'  A biography of Charles Bianconi, by his daughter, Mrs. Morgan John O'Connell, has since been published; but the above article is thought worthy of republication, as its contents were for the most part taken principally from Mr. Bianconi's own lips.


Minutes of Evidence taken before the Select Committee on Postage (Second Report), 1838, p.284.


Ed.Wikipedia offers the following entry for "Whiteboys"

"The Whiteboys were a secret Irish agrarian organization in 18th-century Ireland which used violent tactics to defend tenant farmer land rights for subsistence farming.  Their name derives from the white smocks the members wore in their nightly raids, but the Whiteboys were as usually referred to at the time as Levellers by the authorities, and by themselves as "Queen Sive Oultagh's children", "fairies", or as followers of "Johanna Meskill" or "Sheila Meskill", all symbolic figures supposed to lead the movement.  They sought to address rack-rents, tithe collection, excessive priests' dues, evictions and other oppressive acts.  As a result they targeted landlords and tithe collectors.  Over time, Whiteboyism became a general term for rural violence connected to secret societies.  Because of this generalization, the historical record for the Whiteboys as a specific organisation is unclear."


Evidence before the Select Committee on Postage, 1838.


Ed.—Anna Maria Hall [née Fielding] (1800–1881), Irish writer and journal editor (Sharpe's London Magazine [1852–3]), and the St James's Magazine [1861–8] in which she published much decent serial fiction.  In 1824 she married the Irish journal editor and writer (Samuel) Carter Hall (1800–1889).  Between them they published over 500 books.


Hall's 'Ireland,' ii. 76.


Paper read before the British Association at Cork, 1843.


Ed.The National Association for the Promotion of Social Science, otherwise known as the Social Science Association and also NAPSS, was the pre-eminent forum for the discussion of social questions and the dissemination of knowledge about society in mid-Victorian Britain.  Founded in 1857 and active until 1884, it provided expert guidance to policy-makers and politicians in the era of Gladstone and Disraeli.  The Association’s achievements took different forms.  As a supposedly neutral forum it brought contending parties together to engage in reasoned debate.  As an expert forum, it sponsored important social research such as its famous, compendious investigation of trades’ unions, Trades’ Societies and Strikes, which was published in 1860, and which the Webbs adjudged the best analysis of organised labour in the whole of the nineteenth century.  From its headquarters off Pall Mall it was an assiduous lobbyist, organising some prominent delegations to press for reform.  Its "Transactions" have been described as ‘cardinal documents for the history of social research and policy’.  See also Isa Craig.


The British Association for the Advancement of Science or the British Science Association, formerly known as the BA, is a learned society with the object of promoting science, directing general attention to scientific matters, and facilitating interaction between scientific workers.  Its original purpose, expressed through its annual meetings held in different towns and cities throughout the UK was: ‘to give a stronger impulse and a more systematic direction to scientific inquiry; to promote the intercourse of those who cultivate Science in different parts of the British Empire with one another and with foreign philosophers; to obtain more general attention for the objects of Science and the removal of any disadvantages of a public kind that may impede its progress.’ In the Abstract of the 1857 meeting in Dublin there appears ;

"In the Statistics section we have 5 out of 40, mostly on land and crime; there was, however, a gem from Bianconi, following up an earlier paper at Cork on transportation system management, in which he showed how he had adapted to the railways.  In contrast to the other topics, he defended Irish morality against the scurrility of the English press, on the grounds that he had never had a vehicle delayed as a result of any criminal act, or robbed."


Ed.—it's interesting to read what Smiles has to say about the Irish politics of his time and its reporting, for on the day that I transcribed these pages (4th Nov. 2009) the BBC published this news report:

"The drift of members from the Provisional IRA to the ranks of the dissident groups will cause the most alarm for politicians reading the latest report from the Independent Monitoring Commission.  The nightmare scenario for the peace process is that just as one IRA disappears, another one emerges with the same level of bomb-making capability and weapons experience.  It would be like turning the clock back in Northern Ireland to the dark old days of the 1970s and 1980s . . . . in 1989, the IRA killed 53 people.  That amounts to a death every week."

Mark Simpson, BBC News Ireland correspondent.


Report in the Cork Examiner, 5th July, 1883.


In 1883, as compared with 1882, there was a decrease of 58,022 acres in the land devoted to the growth of wheat; there was a total decrease of 114,871 acres in the land under tillage.—Agricultural Statistics, Ireland, 1883. Parliamentary Return, c. 3768.


Statistical Abstract for the United Kingdom, 1883.


The particulars are these: deposits in Irish Post Office Savings Banks, 31st December, 1882, £1,925,440; to the credit of depositors and Government stock, £125,000; together, £2,050,440.  The increase of deposits over those made in the preceding year, were: in Dublin, £31,321; in Antrim, £23,328; in Tyrone, £21,315; in Cork, £17,034; and in Down, £10,382.


The only thriving manufacture now in Dublin is that of intoxicating drinks—beer, porter, stout, and whisky.  Brewing and distilling do not require skilled labour, so that strikes do not affect them.


Times, 11th June, 1883.


The valuation of the county of Aberdeen (exclusive of the city) was recently 866,8161., whereas the value of the herrings (748,726 barrels) caught round the coast (at 25s. the barrel) was £9335,907, thereby exceeding the estimated annual rental of the county by £69,091.  The Scotch fishermen catch over a million barrels of herrings annually, representing a value of about a million and a-half sterling.


A recent number of Land and Water supplies the following information as to the fishing at Kinsale:—"The takes of fish have been so enormous and unprecedented that buyers can scarcely be found, even when, as now, mackerel are selling at one shilling per six score.  Piles of magnificent fish lie rotting in the sun.  The sides of Kinsale Harbour are strewn with them, and frequently, when the have become a little 'touched,' whole boat-loads are thrown overboard into the water.  This great waste is to be attributed to scarcity of hands to salt the fish and want of packing-boxes.  Some of the boats are said to have made as much as £500 this season.  The local fishing company are making active preparations for the approaching herring fishery, and it is anticipated that Kinsale may become one of the centres of this description of fishing."


Statistical Journal for March 1848.  Paper by Richard Valpy on "The Resources of the Irish Sea Fisheries," pp. 55-72.


HALL, Retrospect of a Long Life, ii. 324.


The Commissioners of Irish Fisheries, in one of their reports, observe:—"Notwithstanding the diminished population, the fish captured round the coast is so inadequate to the wants of the population that fully £150,000 worth of ling, cod, and herring are annually imported from Norway, Newfoundland, and Scotland, the vessels bearing these cargoes, as they approach the shores of Ireland, frequently sailing through large shoals of fish of the same description as they are freighted with!"


The following examination of Mr. J. Ennis, chairman of the Midland and Great Western Railway, took place before the "Royal Commission on Railways," as long ago as the year 1846:—

Chairman—"Is the fish traffic of any importance to your railway?"
Mr. Ennis—"Of course it is, and we give it all the facilities that we can. . . . But the Galway fisheries, where one would expect to find plenty of fish, are totally neglected."
Sir Rowland Hill—"What is the reason of that?"
Mr. Ennis—"I will endeavour to explain.  I had occasion a few nights ago to speak to a gentleman in the House of Commons with regard to an application to the Fishery Board for £2,000 to restore the pier at Buffin, in Clew Bay, and I said, 'Will you join me in the application?  I am told it is a place that swarms with fish, and if we had a pier there the fishermen will have some security, and they will go out.'  The only answer I received was, 'They will not go out; they pay no attention whatever to the fisheries; they allow the fish to come and go without making any effort to catch them. . . . '"
Mr. Ayrton—"Do you think that if English fishermen went to the west coast of Ireland they would be able to get on in harmony with the native fishermen?"
Mr. Ennis—"We know the fact to be, that some years ago, a company was established for the purpose of trawling in Galway Bay, and what was the consequence?  The Irish fishermen, who inhabit a region in the neighbourhood of Galway, called Claddagh, turned out against them, and would not allow them to trawl, and the Englishmen very properly went away with their lives."
Sir Rowland Hill—"Then they will neither fish themselves nor allow any one else to fish!"
Mr. Ennis—"It seems to be so."—Minutes of Evidence, 175-6.


The Derry Journal.


Report of Inspectors of Irish Fisheries for 1882.


The Report of the Inspectors of Irish Fisheries on the Sea and Inland Fisheries of Ireland for 1882, gives a large amount of information as to the fish which swarm round the Irish coast.  Mr. Brady reports on the abundance of herring and other fish all round the coast.  Shoals of herrings "remained off nearly the entire coast of Ireland from August till December."  "Large shoals of pilchards" were observed on the south and south-west coasts.  Off Dingle, it is remarked, the supply of all kinds of fish is practically inexhaustible."  "Immense shoals of herrings off Liscannor and Loop Head;" "the mackerel is always on this coast, and can be captured at any time of the year, weather permitting."  At Belmullet, "the shoals of fish off the coast, particularly herring and mackerel, are sometimes enormous."  The fishermen, though poor, are all very orderly and well conducted.  They only want energy and industry.


The Harleian Miscellany, iii, 378-91.


The Harleian Miscellany, iii. 392.


See The Huguenots in England and Ireland.  A Board of Traders, for the encouragement and promotion of the hemp and flax manufacture in Ireland, was appointed by an Act of Parliament at the beginning of last century (6th October, 1711), and the year after the appointment of the Board the following notice was placed on the records of the institution:—"Louis Crommelin and the Huguenot colony have been greatly instrumental in improving and propagating the flaxen manufacture in the north of this Kingdom, and the perfection to which the same is brought in that part of the country has been greatly owing to the skill and industry of the said Crommelin."  In a history of the linen trade, published at Belfast, it is said that "the dignity which that enterprising man imparted to labour, and the halo which his example cast around physical exertion, had the best effect in raising the tone of popular feeling, as well among the patricians as among the peasants of the north of Ireland.  This love of industry did much to break down the national prejudice in favour of idleness, and cast doubts on the social orthodoxy of the idea then so popular with the squirearchy, that those alone who were able to live without employment had any rightful claim to the distinctive title of gentleman. . . . A patrician by birth and a merchant by profession, Crommelin proved, by his own life, his example, and his enterprise, that an energetic manufacturer may, at the same time, take a high place in the conventional world."


BENN'S History of Belfast, p. 78.


From the Irish Manufacturers' Almanack for 1883 I learn that nearly one-third of the spindles used in Europe in the linen trade, and more than one-fourth of the power-looms, belong to Ireland,—that "the Irish linen and associated trades at present give employment to 176,303 persons; and it is estimated that the capital sunk in spinning and weaving factories, and the business incidental thereto, is about £100,000,000, and of that sum £37,000,000 is credited to Belfast alone."


The importation of coal in 1883 amounted to over 700,000 tons.


We are indebted to the obliging kindness of the Right Hon. Mr. Fawcett, Postmaster-General for this return.  The total number of depositors in the Post Office Savings banks in the Parliamentary borough of Belfast is 10,827 and the amount of their deposits, including the interest standing to their credit, the 31st December, 1882, was £158,064 0s. 1d.
An important item in the savings of Belfast, not included in the above returns, consists in the amounts of deposits made with the various Limited Companies, as well as with the thriving Building Societies in the town and neighbourhood.


Ed.—Sir Edward James Harland, 1st Baronet (1831-95) was a British shipbuilder and Conservative politician.  Outside of his shipbuilding activities, which are described in his autobiographical note, he served as a Belfast harbour commissioner and as Mayor of Belfast (1885 and 1886). He retired from the firm of Harland and Wolff in 1889 and in the same year was elected as Member of Parliament for Belfast North, retaining his seat until his death. In 1885 Harland was granted a knighthood and a baronetcy.


Although Mr. Harland took no further steps with his lifeboat, the project seems well worthy of a fair trial.  We had lately the pleasure of seeing the model launched and tried on the lake behind Mr. Harland's residence at Ormiston, near Belfast.  The cylindrical lifeboat kept perfectly water-tight, and though thrown into the water in many different positions—sometimes tumbled in on its prow, at other times on its back (the deck being undermost), it invariably righted itself.  The screws fore and aft worked well, and were capable of being turned by human labour or by steam power.  Now that such large freights of passengers are carried by ocean-going ships, it would seem necessary that some such method should be adopted of preserving life at sea; for ordinary lifeboats, which are so subject to destructive damage, are often of little use in fires or shipwrecks, or other accidents on the ocean.


Ed.—"the Sicilian was built in 1860 by E. J. Harland at Belfast with a tonnage of 1492grt, a length of 175ft 5in, a beam of 34ft and a service speed of 8 knots.  Sister of the Venetian she was launched on 12th November 1860 and delivered to J. Bibby & Sons on 24th November.  Chartered to P&O she operated the same route as her sisters, was lengthened and equipped with a compound engine in 1872 and sold to Frederick Leyland & Co. in 1873.  In 1878 she was chartered to the African Steam Ship Co. and acquired by the company and renamed Mayumba in 1880, commencing her first sailing on 13th November of that year.  She hit and sank R. Gayner's barque Severn off Madeira in 1881. Acquired by C. R. Gillchrist of Liverpool in 1882 she ended her career in the following year when she caught fire when at Arzue in Algeria.  The ships was scuttled but declared a total loss."

Courtesy of the Merchant Navy Association.

The Bibby Line is a British company concerned with shipping and marine operations. It has operated in most areas of shipping throughout its 200 year history, and claims to be the oldest independently owned deep sea shipping line in the world.


Ed.—the following entry is from Wikipedia:

"Gustav Wilhelm Wolff (1834-1913) was a British shipbuilder and politician. Born in Hamburg, Germany, he moved to Liverpool in 1849 to live with his uncle, Gustav Christian Schwabe.  After serving his apprenticeship in Manchester, Wolff was employed as a draughtsman in Hyde, Greater Manchester, before being employed by the shipbuilder Edward Harland as his personal assistant.  In 1861, Wolff became a partner at Harland's firm, forming Harland and Wolff. Outside shipbuilding, Wolff served as a Belfast harbour commissioner.  He also founded the Belfast Ropeworks and as a member of the Conservative and Unionist Party served as Member of Parliament for Belfast East for 18 years.


Ed.—The 'History' section (see year 1859) of the Bibby Line website carries the following entry:

In 1859 Bibby Line’s “Venetian” was the first vessel built by the Belfast shipyard Harland & Wolff.  Of the first 21 ships built by the yard 18 were for the Bibby Line. It states in the official history of this yard … this is the history of the Belfast Shipyard Harland & Wolff and the Liverpool based Bibby Line.  Without the Bibby family there would have never been a Harland & Wolff.


Ed.—Thomas Henry Ismay (1837-99) was founder of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, more commonly known as the White Star Line (viz Titanic).


Ed.—the following entry is from Wikipedia:

"RMS Oceanic was the White Star Line's first liner and an important turning point in passenger liner design.  She was built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast, and was launched on 27 August 1870, arriving in Liverpool for her maiden voyage on 26 February 1871.  Powered by a combination of steam and sail, she had twelve boilers generating steam at 65 pounds-force per square inch, powered a single four cylinder compound steam engine, 2 x 78 inch (1.98 m) and 2 x 41 inch (1.04 m), with a stroke of 60 inches (1.52 m).  A single funnel exhausted smoke and four masts carried sail.  The hull was constructed of iron and divided into eleven watertight compartments.  Oceanic could carry 166 first class and 1,000 third class passengers, with a crew of 143.  White Star had spared no expense in her construction, and the contemporary press described the ship as an 'imperial yacht'. . . ."

Oceanic had a successful carer, remaining in service until 1896 when she was broken up for scrap.


Ed.—The Britannic was sold for scrap in 1903, but the Germanic had a very long and varied life—including being sunk in 1915 by the British submarine E-14, after which she was refloated and repaired—eventually being sold for scrap in 1950.


A full account is given in the Illustrated London News of the 21st of October, 1868, with illustrations, of the raising of the Wolf; and another, more scientific, is given in the Engineer of the 16th of October, of the same year.


Ed.Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum is an institution based in Stirling, dedicated to the promotion of cultural and historical heritage and the arts, from a local scale to nationally and beyond.  It is also known locally by its original name of The Smith Institute.  Alexander Croall (1804-1885), its first Curator, is still remembered for the four volume work that he and William Grosart Johnstone published in 1860, The Nature-Printed British Sea-Weeds : a history, accompanied by figures and dissections of the Algae of the British Isles. A knowledgeable botanist, his passion for seaweed was such that he was known locally as ‘Roosty Tangle’.  Croall lectured in Botany at the High School of Stirling, and founded the Stirling Field Club, which continues today as the Stirling Field and Archaeological Society.

Croall's daughter Annie (1854-1927) also made a significant contribution in Stirling.  After finding a baby abandoned on the Back Walk, she opened a house for homeless women and then the Stirling Children’s Home.  Her story is recounted in Fifty Years on a Scottish Battlefield 1873-1923.


A "poet," who dates from "New York, March 1883," has published seven stanzas, entitled "Change here for Blairgowrie," from which we take the following:—

"From early morn till late at e'en,
 John's honest face is to be seen,
 Bustling about the trains between,
     Be 't sunshine or be 't showery ;
 And as each one stops at his door,
 He greets it with the well-known roar
     Of 'Change here for Blairgowrie.'
 Even when the still and drowsy night
 Has drawn the curtains of our sight,
 John's watchful eyes become more bright,
     And take another glow'r aye
 Thro' yon blue dome of sparkling stars
 Where Venus bright and ruddy Mars
     Shine down upon Blairgowrie,
 He kens each jinkin' comet's track,
 And when it's likely to come back,
 When they have tails, and when they lack
     In heaven the waggish power aye;
 When Jupiter's belt buckle hings,
 And the Pyx mark on Saturn's rings,
     He sees from near Blairgowrie."


The Observatory, No. 61, p. 146; and No. 68, p. 371.


In an article on the subject in the Dundee Evening Telegraph, Mr. Robertson observes: "If our finite minds were more capable of comprehension, what a glorious view of the grandeur of the Deity would be displayed to us in the contemplation of the centre and source of light and heat to the solar system.  The force requisite to pour such continuous floods to the remotest parts of the system must ever baffle the mind of man to grasp.  But we are not to sit down in indolence: our duty is to inquire into Nature's works, though we can never exhaust the field.  Our minds cannot imagine motion without some Power moving through the medium of some subordinate agency, ever acting on the sun, to send such floods of light and heat to our otherwise cold and dark terrestrial ball ; but. it is the overwhelming magnitude of such power that we are incapable of comprehending.  The agency necessary to throw out the floods of flame seen during the few moments of a total eclipse of the sun, and the power requisite to burst open a cavity in its surface, such as could entirely engulph our earth, will ever set all the thinking capacity of man at nought."


The Observatory, Nos. 34, 42, 45, 49, and 58.


We regret to say that Sheriff Barclay died a few months ago, greatly respected by all who knew him.


Ed.—a friend of Smiles, Nasmyth—pictured here in one of Hill and Adamson's fine Calotype studies—was famous for his development of the steam hammer.  Smiles was to edit his autobiography.


Ed.—for a remarkable example of Smiles's pronouncement, that "The one is thrown upon his own resources, the other works in the company of his fellows: the one thinks, the other communicates" one need look no further than the 'Leicester Chartist' and onetime shoemaker, Thomas Cooper.


Sir E. Denison Beckett, in his Rudimentary Treatise on Clocks and Watches and Bells, has given an instance of the telescope-driving clock, invented by Mr. Cooke (p.213).


J. NORMAN LOCKYER, F.R.S.—Stargazing, Past and Present, p. 302.


This excellent instrument is now in the possession of my son-in-law, Dr. Hartree, of Leigh, near Tunbridge.


An interesting account of Mr. Alvan Clark is given in Professor Newcomb's 'Popular Astronomy,' p. 137.


A photographic representation of this remarkable telescope is given as the frontispiece to Mr. Lockyer's Stargazing, Past and Present; and a full description of the instrument is given in the text of the same work.  This refractor telescope did not long remain the largest.  Mr. Alvan Clark was commissioned to erect a larger equatorial for Washington Observatory; the object-glass (the rough disks of which were also furnished by Messrs. Chance of Birmingham) exceeding in aperture that of Mr. Cooke's by only one inch.  This was finished and mounted in November, 1873.  Another instrument of similar size and power was manufactured by Mr. Clark for the University of Virginia.  But these instruments did not long maintain their supremacy.  In 1881, Mr. Howard Grubb, of Dublin, manufactured a still larger instrument for the Austrian Government—the refractor being of twenty-seven inches aperture.  But Mr. Alvan Clark was not to be beaten.  In 1882, he supplied the Russian Government with the largest refractor telescope in existence—the object-glass being of thirty inches diameter.  Even this, however, is to be surpassed by the lens which Mr. Clark has in hand for the Lick Observatory (California), which is to have a clear aperture of three feet in diameter.


Since the above passage was written and in type, I have seen (in September 1884) the reflecting telescope referred to at pp. 357-8.  It was mounted on its cast-iron equatorial stand, and at work in the field adjoining the village green at Bainbridge, Yorkshire.  The mirror of the telescope is 8 inches in diameter; its focal length, 5 feet; and the tube in which it is mounted, about 6 feet long.  The instrument seemed to me to have an excellent defining power.

But Mr. Lancaster, like every eager astronomer, is anxious for further improvements.  He considers the achromatic telescope the king of instruments, and is now engaged in testing convex optical surfaces, with a view to achieving a telescope of that description.  The chief difficulty is the heavy charge for the circular blocks of flint glass requisite for the work which he meditates.  "That," he says, "is the great difficulty with amateurs of my class."  He has, however, already contrived and constructed a machine for grinding and polishing the lenses in an accurate convex form, and it works quite satisfactorily.

Mr. Lancaster makes his own tools.  From the raw material, whether of glass or steel, he produces the work required.  As to tools, all that he requires is a bar of steel and fire; his fertile brain and busy hands do the rest.  I looked into the little workshop behind his sitting-room, and found it full of ingenious adaptations.  The turning lathe occupies a considerable part of it; but when he requires more space, the village smith with his stithy, and the miller with his water-power, are always ready to help him.  His tools, though not showy, are effective.  His best lenses are made by himself: those which he buys are not to be depended upon.  The best flint glass is obtained from Paris in blocks, which he divides, grinds, and polishes to perfect form.

I was attracted by a newly made machine, placed on a table in the sitting-room; and on inquiry found that its object was to grind and polish lenses.  Mr. Lancaster explained that the difficulty to be overcome in a good machine, is to make the emery cut the surface equally from centre to edge of the lens, so that the lens will neither lengthen nor shorten the curve during its production.  To quote his words: "This really involves the problem of the 'three bodies,' or disturbing forces so celebrated in dynamical mathematics, and it is further complicated by another quantity, the 'coefficient of attrition,' or work done by the grinding material, as well as the mischief done by capillary attraction and nodal points of superimposed curves in the path of the tool.  These complications tend to cause rings or waves of unequal wear in the surface of the glass, and ruin the defining power of the lens, which depends upon the uniformity of its curve.  As the outcome of much practical experiment, combined with mathematical research, I settled upon the ratio of speed between the sheave of the lens-tool guide and the turn-table; between whose limits the practical equalization of wear (or cut of the emery) might with the greater facility be adjusted, by means of varying the stroke and eccentricity of the tool.  As the result of these considerations in the construction of the machine, the surface of the glass 'comes up' regularly all over the lens; and the polishing only takes a few minutes' work—thus keeping the truth of surface gained by using a rigid tool."

The machine in question consists of a revolving sheave or ring, with a sliding strip across its diameter; the said strip having a slot and clamping screw at one end, and a hole towards the other, through which passes the axis of the tool used in forming the lens,—the slot in the strip allowing the tool to give any stroke from 0 to 1.25 inch.  The lens is carried on a revolving turn-table, with an arrangement to allow the axis of the lens to coincide with the axis of the table.  The ratio of speed between the sheave and turn-table is arranged by belt and properly sized pulleys, and the whole can be driven either by hand or by power.  The sheave merely serves as a guide to the tool in its path, and the lens may either be worked on the turn-table or upon a chuck attached to the tool rod.  The work upon the lens is thus to a great extent independent of the error of the machine through shaking, or bad fitting, or wear; and the only part of the machine which requires really first-class work, is the axis of the turntable, which (in this machine) is a conical bearing at top, with steel centre below,—the bearing turned, hardened, and then ground up true, and run in anti-friction metal.  Other details might be given, but these are probably enough for present purposes.  We hope, at some future time, for a special detail of Mr. Lancaster's interesting investigations, from his own mind and pen.


The translations are made by W. Cadwalladr Davies, Esq.


This evidence was given by Mr. W. Cadwalladr Davies on the 28th October, 1880.




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