AMERICAN WAR OF 1812 – CHESAPEAKE AND SHANNON Journal with a companion volume of watercolour illustrations, kept by Edward Pritchard, recording his service on board the Shannon in the Arctic and during the War of 1812

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Lot 4
AMERICAN WAR OF 1812 – CHESAPEAKE AND SHANNON
Journal with a companion volume of watercolour illustrations, kept by Edward Pritchard, recording his service on board the Shannon in the Arctic and during the War of 1812, including her duel with the Chesapeake in Boston Bay,'TACKED IN FOR BOSTON THE CHESAPEAKE HAD MADE SIGNAL FOR SEA... THE ACTION COMMENCED WITH A DREADFULL FIRE OF ROUND AND GRAPE'

Sold for £ 43,812 (US$ 54,378) inc. premium
AMERICAN WAR OF 1812 – CHESAPEAKE AND SHANNON
Journal with a companion volume of watercolour illustrations, kept by Edward Pritchard, recording his service on board the Shannon in the Arctic and during the War of 1812, including her duel with the Chesapeake in Boston Bay, comprising:

(i) "Memorandum kept by Edward Pritchard on Board HMS Shannon", with his ownership inscription "Edward Pritchard 1813", the entries recording his service on the Shannon between 1805 and 1815, with a few earlier entries made while serving on other ships, including the Ranger of Liverpool and the frigate Amelia (the volume opening: "I Edward Pritchard Left Wrexham March the 18th 1804 and arrived in Liverpool the 22 of March and on the 28 of March I shiped on board the Ranger ship for the coast of Africa at 5£ per Month signed articles the 6th of April and on the 22 of April my wife Left me"); his service on the Shannon beginning on 16 August 1806 ("Drafted on board HMS Shannon then at the Nore") and ending with two entries for 15 and 18 November 1813 ("Discharged from the Shannon and Went on Board the gladiator the same day/ Exicuted at Spithead a man on [sic] the Name Warburton [Joseph Warton, deserter] taking on Board the Shannon from the Chesepeake"; recording, inter alia, events depicted in watercolour in the companion volume (see below); the journal culminating with an account of the taking of the US Frigate Chesapeake by the Shannon on 1 June 1813 ("...June 1st Bay of Boston/ Wind west at Daylight... At 1 tacked in for Boston the Chesapeake had made signal for sea tacked and stood out under easy sail – At 12 Discovered the Enemy under sail – hove to And Waited for her/ filled when the Enemy Approached – At 5-30 the Action commenced with a Dreadfull fire of round and Grape on both sides for eight Minutes when our Brave Captain Brook followed by his officers & men Borded Mr Wats First Lieutenant fell and several of our men and in 17 minuts the British Flag was Flying in Triumph But our brave Captain was severly wounded in Bording Mr Samuel Midshipman was wounded... this Action was Fought in Boston Bay 10 Miles from the Land a Great number of Boats Came out to See the Action..."); letters and documents pertaining to the engagement have also been copied into the volume, including at the very end of it Broke's challenge to the Chesapeake (seemingly from a version printed at Boston in September that year); with several ownership inscriptions of Thomas Pritchard of Wrexham, recording it as the gift of Edward Pritchard, 30 May 1841, verses and a few household recipes being copied into spare pages by Thomas; stationer's pricing of five shillings on inside cover; ownership inscription at very end by William Charles Pritchard, Holt, 24 February 1861, c.130 pages of Edward Pritchard's memoranda, plus additional pages of verse, etc., half calf, marbled boards, covers coming loose, dust-stained and with the usual wear through handling, nevertheless overall in attractive and sound condition, 4to, [begun on board HM Frigate Shannon, 1813]

(ii) Volume of watercolour drawings, bearing the ownership inscription on the first leaf "Edwd Pritchard/ Jany 15th 1807", comprising some 65 watercolours, mostly of nautical subjects, plus flags, "Jack & his Girl in the West Indies" and the like, many illustrative of the voyages of the Shannon with whom Pritchard sailed, episodes including the bombardment of Bolougne with Congreve Rockets on 8 October 1806, the great storm of 18 February 1807, the ship's three-month voyage with the Meleager within the Arctic Circle off Greenland in May, June and July 1807 (four views), the engagement between the Thétis and the Amethyst, with the Shannon coming up, and the Shannon with the Thétis in tow after her capture, November 1808, the Shannon in a heavy gale off the Isle de Dieu on 14 December 1809, and the firing of three French prizes by the Shannon off Rochefort on 19 February 1811; later ownership inscription "Thomas Pritchards Book May 30th 1841/ The gift of Edward Pritchard Hoverton/ Wrexham North Wales", some 65 watercolours, usual dust-staining and wear throughout from handling, oblong folio (c.180 x 310mm.), artist's ownership inscription dated 15 January 1807 (2)

Footnotes

  • 'TACKED IN FOR BOSTON THE CHESAPEAKE HAD MADE SIGNAL FOR SEA... THE ACTION COMMENCED WITH A DREADFULL FIRE OF ROUND AND GRAPE' – a sailor on board Captain Broke's Shannon records his service on board the frigate during the celebrated encounter with the Chesapeake outside Boston, as well as in other engagements during the War of 1812 and her voyage within the Arctic Circle in the summer of 1807.

    An unusual, and especially valuable, feature of this journal is that it was kept by a seaman. Edward Pritchard gives a vivid self-portrait near the beginning of the journal, showing that although he described himself as being a midshipman he was by no means a youthful scion of the upper classes as midshipmen at this period so often were. He describes how, earlier in his career, he had been taken prisoner by a French privateer: "we arrived in... Prison in Gauduloupe and on our arrival there I met with... rough usage that thank god I was then 51 years of age I stood in my own Defence and came of victory with a man of 23 and the bully of the wholl of the Prisoners which consisted of about 400/ the cause of the Disput arose by him shifting my and messmates things whilst we were in the Taproom going to have some grog and when I came to ask him whey he done so he gave me the greatest of Abuse and was going to handel me roughly but I settled him in four Rounds to the great satisfaction of all my fellow Prisoners".

    A muster of the Shannon taken on 1 November 1810 lists Edward Pritchard as born at Brixham [sic], aged 51 and serving in the capacity of 'yeoman sheets' (see H.F. Pullen, The Shannon and the Chesapeake, 1970); yeomen ranking as mid-grade petty officers with two aboard each ship, the senior being the Yeoman of the Sheets, the junior the Yeoman of Powder Room.

    His memoranda have been entered into a pre-bound stationer's volume, with paper dated 1808 (watermarked 'Dusautoy & Rump [papermakers of Lyng, Norfolk]/ 1808'). While some of the early entries (as in the one quoted above) must have written up in retrospect, as indeed their retrospective style indicates, the bulk of entries appear to date from not long after the events they describe, and were presumably written up during spare moments while on board the Shannon; as for example in the routine entries for 16 and 25 November 1809: "16/ got Dereck riged and got the stump of the Bowsprit out/ the remainder of the Month employed in Painting ship and waiting for our Bowsprit/ 25/ got our New Bowsprit in and got some fowls on Board for the Admiral which had sailed from Traffligar" (a word he clearly pronounced in the same manner as Nelson). While most of the journal appears to be in Pritchard's own hand, another takes over after his description of the taking of the Chesapeake, the latter possibly writing from dictation. Further entries, comprising popular verse and the like, were made by Thomas Pritchard, to whom the book was given in 1841. Similarly, the watercolours appear to have been the product of Pritchard's spare time while on board the Shannon; the paper of the volume bearing the watermark 'O & P/ 1807'. As quite a few feature the Shannon itself, even when depicting events that Pritchard witnessed from on board the ship, they are clearly imaginative reconstructions rather than eye-witness records; albeit valuable as the testament of a humble sailor serving on board probably the most famous frigate in British maritime history.
Contacts
AMERICAN WAR OF 1812 – CHESAPEAKE AND SHANNON Journal with a companion volume of watercolour illustrations, kept by Edward Pritchard, recording his service on board the Shannon in the Arctic and during the War of 1812
AMERICAN WAR OF 1812 – CHESAPEAKE AND SHANNON Journal with a companion volume of watercolour illustrations, kept by Edward Pritchard, recording his service on board the Shannon in the Arctic and during the War of 1812
AMERICAN WAR OF 1812 – CHESAPEAKE AND SHANNON Journal with a companion volume of watercolour illustrations, kept by Edward Pritchard, recording his service on board the Shannon in the Arctic and during the War of 1812
AMERICAN WAR OF 1812 – CHESAPEAKE AND SHANNON Journal with a companion volume of watercolour illustrations, kept by Edward Pritchard, recording his service on board the Shannon in the Arctic and during the War of 1812
AMERICAN WAR OF 1812 – CHESAPEAKE AND SHANNON Journal with a companion volume of watercolour illustrations, kept by Edward Pritchard, recording his service on board the Shannon in the Arctic and during the War of 1812
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