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Great Britain. Admiralty
Sailing and fighting instructions for His Majesties fleet.
[London?] : [The Admiralty], [approximately 1711]
Physical Description:
34 pages ; 35 cm
Rare Books and Manuscripts
VK381.G74 S25 1711+ Oversize
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
In 1710, the Royal Navy issued the 31-page Sailing and fighting instructions for His Majesties Fleet (see Adams and Waters). In the same year, as Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet, Admiral Sir John Norris introduced eight temporary additional signals for "chasing," as part of his successful defense of Sardinia. The present publication shows five of these incorporated into the text of "Additional signals to be added to the XVIth article (pages 33-34). Two additional signals were included, in manuscript, in Norris's annotated copy of this work, now in the collections of the Yale Center for British Art. As noted by Willis: "... advances in tactical thought beneficial to the service as a whole, but introduced as a temporary instruction, could and did remain to be entrenched in stone: Sir John Norris, when commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean, issued eight signals for chasing in 1710, the first four of which were added to the permanent instructions."
By the time the Instructions were re-issued as a 34-page work in the 1740s (see Adams and Waters 1438a), one of Norris' "Additional Signals" seems to have been abandoned, and a printed date was added to the work. The earliest manuscript signal book held by the National Maritime Museum is that written by Norris in 1710/1711 describing these additional signals (see NMM, Sub-collection SIG/B).
The work covers almost every conceivable scenario and condition for communicating between His Majesty's ships: signals by day or by night, "sailing in a fog," "instructions to be observed by younger captains to the elder," and--most important--"fighting instructions": "When the Admiral would have the fleet draw into a line of battel [sic], one ship ahead of another (according to the method given to each captain) he will hoist an Union flag at mizen-peek, and fire a gun; and every flag ship in the fleet is to make the same signal."
Willis, S. Fighting at sea in the eighteenth century, p. 74
Adams, T.R. English maritime books printed before 1801, 1376
BAC: British Art Center copy bound in contemporary gilt-tooled brown morocco. Top third of the title leaf is lacking, but with no apparent loss of text. Inscribed on front endpaper: "Presented to the Hon Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, by Thomas A. Jenkins, Chief Bureau of Navigation, Sept. 17, 1866." Provenance: Admiral Sir John Norris; Gideon Welles; Paul Peralta-Ramos.
BAC: British Art Center copy with significant extra-illustrations and emendations by Admiral Sir John Norris, Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Navy. Each of the printed instructions in the volume is accompanied by a pen-and-ink drawing (with watercolor), depicting the ship with the flag disposition, and drawings of one, two, or ten guns, as the signal requires. Many of the printed instructions are supplemented by additions and elaborations, in a neat clerical hand. The fighting instruction, for example, is followed by: "and every ship is to sail immediately into her own station and keep the same distance those ships do that are next to the admiral, always taking his from the centre." The two extensive additional signals for "chasing" on the final blank leaf are signed by Norris.
Subject Terms:
Great Britain. Admiralty.
Great Britain. Royal Navy -- Signaling.
Jenkins, Thomas -- Presentation inscription from G. Welles.
Naval battles -- Great Britain -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
Naval tactics -- Great Britain -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
Norris, John, Sir, 1660?-1749 -- Ms. Notes.
Peralta-Ramos, Paul -- Provenance.
Ships -- Pictorial works.
Signals and signaling -- Great Britain -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
Welles, Gideon, 1802-1878 -- Presentation inscription to T. Jenkins.
Annotations (Provenance)
Ink drawings.
Norris, John, Sir, 1660?-1749.
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