Shipworm, Hogbacks and Duck’s Arses: the Influence of William May on Sir Robert Seppings

By Alan Lemmers, published November 2013


The improvements in shipbuilding by Sir Robert Seppings in the early nineteenth century represent one of the last major revolutions in the age of the wooden sailing warship. However, little is known about Seppings’s sources of inspiration, a blank that this article attempts to fill in to some extent. Recent historical finds confirm that Seppings was acquainted with at least one earlier, foreign version of diagonal framing before coming to his own system, while it has earlier been recognized that his round stern was inspired on Danish examples. When traced back to their ultimate origin both ideas lead to the same man: William May (1725–1807), dockyard superintendent of the Amsterdam Admiralty from 1780 to 1795.


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Filed under: Other (Nineteenth C) | Other (Eighteenth C) | Internal Waterways
Subjects include: Biography | Shipbuilding & Design

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