Commodore George Walker and Musicians on Board Ship…

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  • #15694
    Sam Willis
    Keymaster

    I am doing some research on paintings purchased by the Society for Nautical Research for the collections of the National Maritime Museum. I have come across this interesting portrait of George Walker.

    Read more at http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/201229.html#ByufLrvegeLmh6Dq.99

    In the blurb it says that he was ‘A resourceful and innovative seaman, he always carried musicians on board, and cared for his crews who in their turn respected him.’

    Has anyone come across similar information for any other captains? It would be interesting to know if some captains took musicians with them while others did not or if certain stations were more ‘musical’ than others.

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    #15697
    David Hepper
    Participant

    The subject of music at sea was covered in an early edition of the Mariners Mirror, at least for the Royal Navy – see M.M. vol.9 for a series of articles on bands and music at sea by R G Perrin. In this he cites evidence from the Middle Ages onwards of trumpeters on ships, and from the 17th Century onwards Trumpeters and Drummers were part of the complement, and Fifers are regularly mentioned.

    He also quotes several examples from the late 18th/early 19th century of individual Captains embarking a wider range of talent – he mentions Lord St Vincent, who when leaving the Channel Fleet in 1801 had a 26- strong orchestra onboard and states that Nelson wrote saying that he be would be “…very happy to have ten or twelve of them”. Collingwood also apparently had a small band of musicians onboard when CinC Mediterranean and in 1801 the Caesar, when sailing from Gibraltar, had her band play ‘Hearts of Oak’ “…to which the military band on the Molehead replied with the tune in question”

    #15717
    Tim Beattie
    Participant

    Both the privateering ships on Woodes Rogers’s 1708 expedition had bands. That on the Dutchess included, according to Edward Cooke’s account, ‘Trumpets, Hautboys and Violins’. They would have been a vital contribution to morale on those very long voyages in overcrowded and ‘pestered’ ships.

    #15841
    Alexandre Solka
    Participant

    Dear Mr Willis,

    Thank you for this very interesting topic and I would like to share with you a few elements I tried to work on .

    I sent an email to the Royal Museum of Greenwich collections regarding the portrait of Privateer George Walker. (http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/201229.html#ByufLrvegeLmh6Dq.99) No answer for the moment…

    Regarding the following inscription, ‘F…… Gib…l…C. St. Vin’

    I would like to know first if you may obtain some more detailed and zoomed pictures of this particular object so that we might decipher a few more letters.

    If yes, would you be able to send me one copy as a pdf or jpeg file?

    Secondly, I propose to read this inscription on this globe as “Fought near Gibraltar at Cape Saint-Vincent.”

    Do you think this fits with the letters being written on the globe?

    This enquiry is connected to a small communication I intend to submit later to the Society for Nautical Research.

    I thank you for your support and will look very forward for your reply.

    Sincerely yours,

    Alexandre Solcà

    #15871
    Alexandre Solka
    Participant

    Hello once again,

    A small addendum to the previous post. Meanwhile, Dr Megan Barford from the Greenwich Maritime Museum very kindly answered to my email
    and wrote that we definitely read on the globe Gibraltar Cape Saint Vincent. Meanwhile, she also noticed that the first word, although hardly legible, should be related to the latin word for strait: fretum. Therefore, it seems toldly logical to propose the following reading: fretum Herculeum, Gibraltar, Cape Saint Vincent, as fretum Herculeum, being the Strait of Gibraltar.

    I will look forward your comments.

    All the best. Sincerely yours. Alexandre Solcà

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