Author Results for W. E. May

The Gentleman of Jamaica

By W. E. May

Retired merchant captain Ralph Walker, (1749-1824), mentally unfulfilled by his Jamaican sugar plantations, turned to the problem of finding the longitude at sea. W. E. May describes the historical background to finding the longitude and Walker’s efforts, including his foray into magnetic variation and dip and which, though ultimately unsuccessful, played a useful part in […] Read More

Filed under: Atlantic | Other (Nineteenth C) | Caribbean
Subjects include: Biography | Science & Exploration | Ship Handling & Seamanship

Garlic and the Magnetic Compass

By W. E. May

Do garlic, onions and tallow affect the accuracy of a magnetic compass? May seeks to unravel the mystery which was believed to have adversely affected ship handling since at least Antiquity. Quoting from sources as early as Pliny and as late as the September 1976 issue of the New Scientist, he provides evidence both for […] Read More

Filed under: Antiquity
Subjects include: Ship Handling & Seamanship

Midshipmen Ordinary and Extraordinary

By W. E. May

This article reviews and clarifies the origins and circumstances of the appointments of Midshipmen Ordinary and Extraordinary in the Royal Navy from the 1660’s to the 1730’s. The first mention of Midshipmen Extraordinary is in 1669, and thereafter the appointment was frequently, but not always, used for commissioned officers without a commissioned appointment. Based on […] Read More

Filed under: Other (Early Modern) | Other (Eighteenth C) | Other (location)
Subjects include: Administration | Biography | Manpower & Life at Sea | Navies

The Loss of the Pembroke, 1694

By W. E. May

The Pembroke was a 32-gun ship built in 1690, whose loss in a long combat in 1694 has been overlooked by most historians. So, the author explains in this paper all dated actions, squadrons, fleets and seas in which she had some remarkable activity. It also includes detailed information about the men who commanded her. Read More

Filed under: English Channel | Other (Early Modern) | Caribbean
Subjects include: Battles & Tactics | Biography | Navies

The Navy and the Rebellion of the Earl of Argyle

By W. E. May

In 1685 Archibald Campbell, the 9th Earl of Argyle, together with the Duke of Monmouth, made an abortive attempt to oust James II from the throne.  Argyle, having acquired three ships and recruited some disaffected officers and men, sailed from Holland to invade England via Scotland.  His plans were thwarted by Royal intelligence and the […] Read More

Filed under: North Sea | Other (Early Modern)
Subjects include: Battles & Tactics

The Wreck of the Weymouth

By W. E. May

A description of the events that led to the 60 gun ship Weymouth, Captain Calmady, breaking up on a reef in February 1745. Using the ships log and notes from the court martial, the author establishes the cause as a navigational error where the pilot consistently mistook Antigua for Montserrat and neither of the Captains […] Read More

Filed under: Other (Eighteenth C) | Caribbean | Shipwrecks
Subjects include: Ship Handling & Seamanship

Hugues de Berze and the Mariner’s Compass

By W. E. May

This short article attempts to establish the connection of de Berze with the history of the mariner’s compass in the thirteenth century. It compares different accounts of this confusing saga. Read More

Filed under: High Middle Ages | Other (location)
Subjects include: Science & Exploration