Book Review-‘Hornblower’s Historical Shipmates: The young gentlemen of Pellew’s Indefatigable’ by H. Noel-Smith and L. M. Campbell

By Isaac Land, published November 2020


This is a group biography of the ‘seventeen young gentlemen mustered on the Indefatigable’s books in 1797’ (p. 2) that discusses their origins, explores their relationships with Edward Pellew and each other, and reveals much about their later trajectories in life, through detective work in a wide range of archives. The genre of group biography has emerged as a useful approach to many topics, as is evident in the updated Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. The Bloomsbury Group or the Cambridge Spies amounted to more than the sum of their parts, and it can become difficult to approach an individual without acknowledging the web of relationships in which they were embedded. In the case of Pellew and his highly successful frigate school for midshipmen, the ramifications were personal, educational, and professional, and lasted a lifetime. By taking those present at the famous Droits de l’Homme engagement as the sample under study, this book will remind some readers of James Lockhart’s Men of Cajamarca, which explored the origins of Pizarro’s soldiers and questioned how the great fortune won on the battlefield subsequently shaped their lives…

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Filed under: Other (Nineteenth C) | Other (Eighteenth C)
Subjects include: Biography

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