Some Aspects of the Life and Career of William Sutherland

By Cris Mallagh, published February 2014


This paper offers some new insights into aspects of the life and work of the shipwright William Sutherland (1668–1740). He went to sea in 1679 and advanced to master carpenter by 1692. Afterwards he served three years as quarterman at Portsmouth under his uncle William Bagwell. At Deptford in 1715 he became embroiled in controversies over timber measurement abuses. He was appointed master caulker at Sheerness in 1717 and died there in 1740. Patronage from the Earl of Sutherland was not sufficient to allow his greater advancement. His theoretical ideas about ships’ moulding based on Royal Society papers and Newton’s Solid of Least Resistance were sometimes over rigid and often out of step with contemporary practices, while highly perceptive relative to specific practical needs.

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Filed under: English Channel | Other (Eighteenth C)
Subjects include: Harbours & Dockyards | Shipbuilding & Design

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