Maritime Art

Taking in New Hay and stacking it, June 1774

By Gabriel Bray, (1750-1823)

In 1991 The Society for Nautical Research purchased an album of 73 sketches by Lieutenant Gabriel Bray and donated them to the National Maritime Museum. Bray served as a second lieutenant on the 38-gun HMS Pallas between December 1774 and September 1775.  Read more about the Bray collection at the National Maritime Museum and see a Lieutenant’s Log for Bray’s Journey to the Caribbean in 1774. The Captain’s Log also survives at the National Archives in Kew, Ref: ADM 51/667.

This delightful scene oft two men harvesting was probably sketched in Kent while Bray was at home on half-pay in the summer of 1774, before he joined the Pallas at Portsmouth and subsequently sailed for Africa in December. The hay would have been used to feed livestock and would have been an important part of the stores for many vessels in this period as cattle, pigs, goats and poultry were all carried on board.

An important article on this subject was published in the Mariner’s Mirror in 1984: John Crane (1576–1660) of Loughton, Bucks: Surveyor General of all Victuals for Ships, 1635–42. John Crane was appointed victualler for the navy in 1635 from the household of Charles I. He was described as an honest victualler in an age when more men died of food poisoning at sea than from enemy action. Debts due to failed reimbursement from the crown and after serving for 7 years as victualler for the navy, his subsequent sequestration and fine caused his financial undoing and led to his selling his estate in 1655. He died in 1660 still trying in vain to secure an Admiralty place for his son.

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