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Master & Madman: The Surprising Rise and Disastrous Fall of the Hon Anthony Lockwood RN

Master & Madman: The Surprising Rise and Disastrous Fall of the Hon Anthony Lockwood RN

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Master & Madman: The Surprising Rise and Disastrous Fall of the Hon Anthony Lockwood RN

475 pagine
7 ore
Mar 5, 2012


Anthony Lockwoods story is at the heart of the Georgian Navy though the man himself has never taken centre stage in its history. His naval career described by himself as twenty five years incessant peregrination followed a somewhat erratic course but almost exactly spanned the period of the French wars and the War of 1812. Lockwood was commended for bravery in action against the French; was present at the Spithead Mutiny; shipwrecked and imprisoned in France; appointed master attendant of the naval yard at Bridgetown, Barbados, during the year the slave trade was abolished; and served as an hydrographer before beginning his three-year marine survey of Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy. Against the odds he managed to finesse a treasury appointment as Surveyor General of New Brunswick and became the right hand man of the Governor, General Smyth.Deeply ingrained in his character, however, was a democratic determination that was out of step with the authoritarian character of the Navy and the aristocratic one of New Brunswick. His expectation of social justice verged on madness, and when he finally succumbed to lunacy it was in the defence of democracy. The turbulence of the times inspired Lockwood to stage a one-man coup detat which ended with him being jailed and shipped back to London to live out his days as a pensioner and mental patient. Truly a dramatic rise and a tragic fall.
Mar 5, 2012

Informazioni sull'autore

Peter Thomas is senior lecturer in Academic Writing and Language for the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries at Middlesex University. His research interests include the generative role of writing in creative practice; academic literacies; interdisciplinarity and collaboration; and practice as research.

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Master & Madman - Peter Thomas

Copyright © Peter Thomas & Nicholas Tracy 2012

First published in Great Britain in 2012 by

Seaforth Publishing,

Pen & Sword Books Ltd,

47 Church Street,

Barnsley S70 2AS

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN 978 1 84832 121 2

PDF ISBN: 978 1 78346 409 8

EPUB ISBN: 978 1 78346 875 1

PRC ISBN: 978 1 78346 642 9

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted

n any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording,

or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission

in writing of both the copyright owner and the above publisher.

The right of Peter Thomas and Nicholas Tracy to be identified as the authors of this work

has been asserted by them in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Typeset and designed by MATS Typesetting, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

Printed and bound in Great Britain by CPI Antony Rowe, Great Britain



List of illustrations


Part One: Lockwood, Master RN

  1   Dead Man’s Cloaths

  2   A Saucy Young Puppy

  3   Equal to the Task

  4   An Emissary of Light

  5   To London

Part Two: The Honourable Anthony Lockwood

  6   King’s Councillor

  7   Surveyor General

  8   A New Broom

  9   A Man of Respectable Appearance

10   Noises Off – Loyal Dancing

Part Three: The Fall

11   A House of Brick

12   The Perfect Storm

13   Never to Hope Again

Reflections: The Theatre of Life




THIS ACCOUNT OF the life of the Honourable Anthony Lockwood, who rose from obscurity at the bottom of the social scale, and the life of a common seaman, to high office in colonial New Brunswick, was the last great scholarly labour undertaken by Peter Thomas, late Professor of English at the University of New Brunswick (UNB). When he found that he was dying he asked me to finish his work, writing the chapters on Lockwood’s madness and fall from the height he had reached, and finishing his draft of the rest of the book for publication. Our paths had crossed a number of times while Peter was undertaking his monumental research work, but his selection of me for this honour was also based on his suspicion that my own life and tenuous connection with the establishment at UNB resonated with Lockwood’s experience as an ‘outsider’ in the Loyalist culture of New Brunswick. Apart from the effects of organic disease, Lockwood’s mad attempt at mounting a coup d’état in New Brunswick, in Peter’s assessment, was a response to the rottenness at the monarchical core of colonial society, and to the example of the successful rebellions taking place in the Spanish empire. For my part, the acceptance of Peter’s invitation was an act of friendship: Peter was an intelligent, generous and humane man, and almost my last words to him were that I wished we had known each other better – a sentiment he reciprocated. At the same time, my own background made me an obvious choice to complete the study of Lockwood. My scholarly career is in naval history, with some time spent studying colonial New Brunswick history, I have experience of naval life, as a yachtsman I am familiar with some of the coast Lockwood surveyed, and my home has been in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia for much of my life. My part in this project has been both a logical extension of my scholarly life, and a journey with my departed friend.

I am grateful for the assistance of archivists in Canada and Britain who assisted me in confirming, and in some instances correcting, references to material unearthed by Peter Thomas during his two-decade-long research work. I am particularly indebted to Gary Shutlak at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia, Robert Fellows and Rob Gilmore at the Public Archives of New Brunswick, Daryl Johnson at the Museum of New Brunswick, Daniel Somers at the Public Archives of Canada, and Tom Catherall and Guy Hannaford at the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office. In addition I have been greatly assisted by Robert W Hoge, Curator of North American Coins and Currency for the American Numismatic Society, and Joanne Smyth, reference librarian at the University of New Brunswick. While responsibility for any errors of commission or omission must be shared by Peter Thomas, who was unable to finish his manuscript, and myself, who arrived late on the scene, I am grateful indeed for the willingness shown by Dr William Acheson, historian of Saint John, New Brunswick, to read the manuscript before publication.

Nicholas Tracy

Fredericton, 21 April 2011


xii Lockwood’s Cry for Help from the Steam Boat, 30 May 1823, New Brunswick Museum, H T Hazen Collection, Ward Chipman Papers, F37-11.

Plate section, between pages 128 & 129

1 Platform Bay, Cape Nichola Mole, St Domingo (ie, Môle Saint-Nicolas, Haiti). Engraved by Hall, from a drawing by Hamilton, in the possession of the Right Honourable Earl of St Vincent. Naval Chronicle, Plate 262.

2 Detail from ‘A Series of Triangles formed on Island of Guernsey in Year 1805. A Lockwood (signature)’, showing limited coastline, triangulation stations with base line, remarks and list of calculations, UKHO M17 Shelf pr.

3 Sketch of work clearing wrecks in Carlisle Bay, Anthony Lockwood. National Library of Scotland, Cochburn Collection, MS 2316 folio 9r.

4 Detail from Îles des Saintes (Saints). Survey, ordered by Rear Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, KB, prepared by Anthony Lockwood, Acting Master Attendant, showing coastline, hydrography, topography, fortifications and remarks. Scale: 5 inches to 3 miles, UK HO 314 Ag 2.

5 Plan of the Town and Harbour of Halifax in Nova Scotia, London Magazine, 1759, p. 481.

6 The Commissioner’s House in the Naval Yard, Halifax, 1803. Naval Chronicle, Plate 145.

7 Sketch of Gannet Rock off Grand Manan Island, ‘Sketched from Nature, 15 September 1817’, Anthony Lockwood, published 1 May 1818. Note large ink blot north of the rock. Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, RS656-7-#76 203.88-1818.

8 Sketch of Seal Island, SW Nova Scotia, Anthony Lockwood, 1815. Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, RS8 1-1, Executive Council, Lighthouses, 1812-1833, F7899.

9 Mouth of the River St John, Anthony Lockwood, J Walker sculpt, Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, H Series Maps: H2-203.29-1818.

10 A View of the City & Harbour of St John, New Brunswick, NA, taken from the Hills WSW of Fort Howe, Charles Turner, British (1774–1857), after Ralph Stennett, active 1812–1815. Hand-coloured etching and aquatint on wove paper, laid down on canvas support: 58.0 x 69.0cm (trimmed within plate mark at top and bottom), publication: London, England. New Brunswick Museum, William B Tennant Collection, 21183.1.

11 View of St John, New Brunswick, Joseph Brown Comingo, Canadian, 1784-after 1821, watercolour, with pen and ink on wove paper support: 34.7 x 51.6cm. New Brunswick Museum, Webster Museum Foundation purchase, 1966.100a.

12 On the Kenibeckasis near St John by Lady Mary (Heaviside) Love, lithograph by Day and Haghe, London, 1831, from The British Dominions in North America; or a Topographical and Statistical Description of the Provinces of Lower and Upper Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, the Islands of Newfoundland, Prince Edward, and Cape Breton, by Joseph Bouchette, published by Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, London, 1831. Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, J Leonard O’Brien fonds: MC299-4.

13 General Smyth, 1816, by Allison Montrose Colwell, Canadian, 1889– 1963, apparently on the basis of research and consultation provided by Captain Charles Coburn Taylor (1868–1941) who was a riverboat captain. Pen and ink drawing with wash on wove paper c.1935–1941, sight: 17.8 x 38.2cm, support: 27.8 x 48.3cm, New Brunswick Museum, X5184.¹

14 View of Province Hall and Public Offices, Fredericton, New Brunswick, after George Neilson Smith, lithograph by Ephraim W Bouvé, Boston, c1850. Provincial Archives of New Brunswick Assorted Photo Acquisitions #4: P37-162.

15 Governor’s Residence, Fredericton, New Brunswick, oil on canvas, painter unknown. New Brunswick Museum, William Francis Ganong Collection, X16488.

16 Barracks and Market House, Frederickston [sic] N, John Elliott Woolford (attributed) in Joseph Bouchette, Day and Haghe, Lithographers to the King, 17 Gate St, Lincolns Inn Fields, British Dominions in North America, 1832, p. 110, vol 2.

17 Officers’ Barracks at Fredericton, Winter, 1834, by John Campbell and W P Kay, lithograph by S Russell of Day and Haghe Lithographers, London. Campbell was the son of Sir Archibald Campbell, Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick, 1831–1837. Provincial Archives of New Brunswick Assorted Photo Acquisitions #4: P37-345.

18 Sleighing Party, Fredericton, New Brunswick, attributed to John Elliott Woolford, British (1778–1866) (titled and dated on the back in what is apparently Woolford’s hand). Oil on paper applied to canvas, 1830, support: 46.5 x 87.5cm, frame: 57.6 x 98.2cm, New Brunswick Museum, J Delancy and Susan White Robinson Collection, 1964.42.²

19 Survey of Richibucto Reserve Lands, Anthony Lockwood, signed, Provincial Archives of New Brunswick RS656-KE-19-4-2.

20 Sketch of Robert C Minette’s proposed route for Chignecto Canal, surveyed in 1825. Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, H4-203-12.



THE EVENTS OF 1 June 1823 were only the culmination of a series of public ‘outrages’ over the previous two weeks. During that time Anthony Lockwood had moved about the province of New Brunswick, brawling, threatening the lives of sundry individuals, and otherwise behaving in an eccentric, not to say insane, fashion. By 5 June a commission De Lunatico Inquirendo had determined that he was indeed mad and a committee was appointed to manage his affairs. It was quickly established that his accounts as Receiver General were short by nearly £2,000; within the year Lockwood’s house and most of its contents were offered at auction to replenish these funds. Though he was removed from jail by September 1823, he was kept under house-arrest and watched over by a constable, while continually petitioning to be examined for sanity until November 1825, at which time he was at last officially removed from his offices – only six years after his arrival in the province. He left for England almost immediately, never to return, and died nearly thirty years later after periods in the private madhouses of Peckham and Bethnal Green.

Even this spare outline is fuller and more accurate than the few references to Lockwood which appear in existing histories of New Brunswick. In W S MacNutt’s History of New Brunswick, 1784–1867, Lilian Mary Beckwith Maxwell’s History of Central New Brunswick, and James Hannay’s History of New Brunswick, Lockwood’s madness merits a paragraph or so. There are briefer references to his New Brunswick career elsewhere. He is sometimes confused with his son; dates are often wrong. Nor is his much longer career as a naval hydrographer (1800–1818) better served. There is a shrewd but sparsely-informed entry in L S Dawson’s Memoirs of Hydrography (1885) – shrewd because it detected the sarcastic streak in Lockwood’s character – but the two references in Sir Archibald Day’s The Admiralty Hydrographic Service (1967) hardly glance as they pass. The fullest accounts of Lockwood’s life to date are mine in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography and passim in Strangers from a Secret Land (1986).

This neglect is not surprising and has both particular and general causes. Despite the singularity of what might be viewed as an attempted one-man coup d’état in Fredericton, it occurred in one of the most dimly-lit corners of empire. New Brunswick does not loom large in the imagination of colonialism. The doings of obscure madmen from the early days of remote outposts do not demand much attention from any but local historians.

The province had no provincial archives until 1968 and to write any ranging account of its history required heroic persistence in consulting scattered and often unsorted materials. In addition, Lockwood poses a peculiar problem to the historian. During his madness he apparently attempted self-consciously to erase himself from the public record. Within days of his imprisonment it was discovered that he had destroyed or ‘mutilated’ the maps, surveys, grant and timber licence books of the Surveyor General’s office. It took his three immediate successors, with the assistance of two extra clerks, more than five years to partially reconstruct what was missing. It is therefore impossible to offer anything but an approximate account of what Anthony Lockwood did as Surveyor General. Of his service as Receiver General only fragments remain. Even the contemporary investigators put their faith in a mysterious ‘black box’ secured at the Bank of New Brunswick in Saint John which proved to contain few answers. As to Lockwood’s personal papers: there is first the evidence of a letter he wrote to the Admiralty on 30 January 1818 asking for confirmation of his naval service, the original documents having been lost, he stated, when ‘a Merchant Brig, having on board my books and papers, from Barbadoes bound for St John’s [sic], New Brunswick, in November 1815, suffered wreck upon Partridge Island, in the Bay of Fundy.’¹ Then, in 1833, he was unable to provide the Admiralty with accurate dates for a memorandum of service, ‘my Journals and Certificates being destroyed in my dwelling house in Fredericton in North Americain 1824.’²

Thus it was by shipwreck, fire, and his own hand, that many of the accumulated materials of Anthony Lockwood’s life were eliminated. Any biographical enquiry must be nurtured by specialised forms of hope.

From another perspective, though, there is a kind of wild propriety to these visitations of fire and water, the self-murder of an official identity, the antics of a loony dictator-manqué attempting to save New Brunswick from itself. As a romantic gesture, Lockwood’s performance on 1 June 1823 does have resounding cultural resonance, and to dismiss his actions as mad, and therefore meaningless, is to miss an important insight into New Brunswick history. Every generation has its models, its styles in madness. Moreover, perhaps at no time in history was madness more compellingly eloquent. Kings, poets, politicians went mad, while the spirit of revolution was widely understood as collective unreason, the dark storm of misrule, afflicting the psyches of whole nations. The greatest English poet to be accused of madness claimed that reason itself imposed ‘mind forg’d manacles’ upon the liberating imagination. Madness, from this viewpoint, was supremely radical, the most absolute form of anti-conservatism – as the Marquis de Sade understood when he presented the play-acting of asylum inmates as the subversion of social decorum and restraint. In short, madness at all times is implicitly political, as it is also existential. Madness always has more than one context.

The purpose of this book is to show that Anthony Lockwood’s attempt to seize the day on 1 June 1823 was both mad and meaningful and that he acted out of complex and concealed circumstances which made what he did, though extreme, logical. But this great crisis of Lockwood’s life – there were others – can only be fully appreciated if elements of his biography are known. His story is a kind of fable. Even his catastrophe proved less absolutely devastating than appears and his life had a surprising end to go along with the peculiar middle. As for the beginnings, they were not exactly what might be expected in a Receiver General of the King’s Casual Revenues.

Despite the destruction of records, there is no need to reconstruct Lockwood’s fable simply from scraps and shadows. The man who went spectacularly mad was of course a particular person who left many marks. What remains of the documentary evidence is substantial. Lockwood’s naval career – described by himself as ‘twenty five years’ incessant peregrination’ – can be reached principally through the files of the Admiralty, the Navy Board, and the Hydrographical Office. This wanderer’s somewhat erratic course almost exactly spanned the period of the French wars and the war of 1812. Lockwood was commended for bravery in action against the French; was present at the Spithead Mutiny; shipwrecked and imprisoned in France; appointed master attendant of the naval yard at Bridgetown, Barbados, during the year the slave trade was abolished; served as an hydrographer on the coast of Spain, in the Channel Islands, the Spanish Main, and elsewhere – before beginning his three-year marine survey of Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy. He produced a new land map of Nova Scotia. In 1818 he published his Description of that province. His had not been a trivial story by the time he reached New Brunswick in the summer of 1819.

Furthermore, there is also a considerable body of material touching on Lockwood’s search for a civilian position (1818-1819) to be found in the same main sources, with the addition of that of the Treasury Office. From his arrival in New Brunswick, Lockwood necessarily entered directly into the political and social life of the province. He was the first true outsider to be appointed to the Executive Council of the province, a factor which may have contributed to the events of 1 June 1823. The direct source materials of this phase of his life are widely dispersed, mainly in New Brunswick, until the onset of his madness. But that episode, the immediate political context in which it took place, its legal and personal consequences, are substantially recorded. Most particularly, a group of Lockwood’s letters from jail have survived. In short, while Lockwood remains a case, and not a life, a vivification is possible.

Even partial biographers must justify their subjects, most fully to themselves. This is obviously most true when the subject is little known, despite the paradox that the very purpose of biography is to make a life known. I was first drawn to this study by the absurd dramatic performance of Lockwood’s last fateful ride. It seemed to me questionable from the beginning that this was a mere aberration. Is there any such thing? My scepticism was fuelled by the odd circumstance that no surviving unguarded comment by a New Brunswick contemporary on the events of that day has come to light. What remains is the official record of the Executive Council enquiry. Even the two issues of the Royal Gazette which may have contained a report are missing – as are copies of the Saint John newspapers of the period. This is not the preface to a conspiracy-theory, except perhaps a conspiracy of embarrassed silence. Yet it remains curious. The spectacle of the Surveyor General – his face the worse for earlier fights – brandishing pistols on horseback must surely have been an attention-grabbing event in a village of 1,700 persons, a veritable feast for gossip. It is worth recalling Sherlock Holmes’ wisdom in The Dog That Didn’t Bark. Silence can indeed be eloquent. What does it speak of here?

Lockwood is one of those figures from the past who appear to represent essential elements of their times by failure rather than success. In his downfall he presented questions which concerned both the thinkers and men of action of his day – questions concerning the nature of political authority, the limits of reason, and the rights of the individual. From this perspective, Fredericton was not an obscure and ill-lit stage at all. Lockwood’s great performance took place in the capital of a new land in a time of change, where individual will and political order contended more nakedly than in more established societies. Properly approached, the case of Lockwood is thus of significance in a much larger context than that of New Brunswick.


Lockwood, Master RN


Dead Man’s Cloaths

THE ICARUS OF GREEK myth, son of Daedalus who was a renowned smith and artificer, fashioned for himself wings of feathers stuck on with wax. Together they took to the air, but Icarus came to disaster when he flew too close to the sun. Lockwood’s is an Icarus story, made possible by the opportunities that a brave man could make for himself in wartime. His spectacular end came when the thin atmosphere of colonial New Brunswick high society ceased to support his wings, and he spiralled in despair to his destruction. He did not recognise himself as an Icarus figure, but he did identify himself with the less well known myth about Icarus’s cousin Acalus. Otherwise known as Talos, Calus, Perdix and Taliris, at the age of twelve Acalus was sent to Daedalus as an apprentice. He had inherited the family’s gift of inventiveness, and this led to his ruin. His remarkable creativity inspired furious jealousy in Daedalus, who flung the boy from the Acropolis to his death. Lockwood rose from obscurity because of his creativity, although his reach did exceed his grasp; he scaled the heights of colonial society, but fell to his ruin in the streets of Saint John and Fredericton armed with a pair of sawn-off pocket pistols.

His first documented appearance on the stage of life was when his name was entered into the books of HMS Iphigenia on 18 April 1795 at Port Royal, Jamaica. He gave his age as twenty-two, but possibly he lied, as he was to give the same age over a year later when he joined HMS Duke. Lockwood is a Yorkshire name, but Anthony was probably born in London. When entered into the muster book of Iphigenia he stated his place of birth as being Northumberland, but altered the record to London when joining Duke. His baptismal certificate has not been found, but it is likely he was the son of Richard Lockwood, who had been baptised at St Botolph Without Aldgate in 1732, one of the sons of Benjamin and Mary Lockwood who baptised nine children. Richard had joined Captain William McLeod’s company as a matross, and served at Onondago Falls (1760), and Albany, before joining the garrison at Fort Edward in 1762, where he remained until his return to England in 1765 as a sergeant, seven years before Anthony’s birth. It may be supposed that Rachel, Anthony’s mother, was a Steed or Stead, because an older sister had been baptised Elizabeth Steed Lockwood at St Mary, Whitechapel, in November 1768.¹

As the son of a Royal Artillery sergeant, Anthony may have received some instruction from his father, or more formally, in the mathematics of gunnery targeting, basic geometrical training from which his surveying skills were perhaps derived. He undoubtedly had mathematical aptitude and it was encouraged somewhere. There were also schools of navigation, usually run by retired mariners, though sometimes even by women, in dockside communities all round the British Isles, and Lockwood certainly picked up marine navigation somewhere. But nothing is known of his formal schooling. Apart from mathematics, he evidently had musical abilities. His surviving writings are literate, showing some range of allusion, if not elegant.

But what was he doing in Jamaica? The evidence is at best circumstantial. When Lockwood was temporarily invalided out of the Navy in 1801 his place of residence became Whitehaven in Cumberland, seemingly an odd choice for a convalescent London East Ender, unless he knew the town already and was returning there. Was this his home port during a career as a merchant seaman, at least in the period immediately before the Navy seized him and war possessed him for six years? If he had gone to sea out of Whitehaven, it is possible Anthony worked in the ‘Blackberry’ or slave trade. There was a highly profitable commerce in general merchandise and slaves between Whitehaven and Jamaica, via Africa. It would be a fine irony if Lockwood’s capture by a press gang in Jamaica in the spring of 1795 was a result of his having worked in the slave trade.

The wars with France transformed the Royal Navy. Between 1792 and 1802 the number of men authorised by Parliament for the naval service grew eightfold, from 16,000 to 135,000, with a comparable increase in vessels. The need for men was voracious and unrelenting. The year 1795 was one of particularly desperate and unscrupulous recruitment, as the government administration of William Pitt the Younger scrambled to meet the French threat. Five Quota Acts were passed requiring every English, Scottish and Welsh county to raise a specific number of men for the Navy.² Inevitably, these were largely landsmen, and the Navy needed experienced seamen. These it could only obtain through a ‘hot press’ of sailors. The Admiralty could be asked to provide certificates protecting particular seamen from impressment, but rarely did so for any but a few key crewmen working in vital trades. Assuming that Lockwood’s ship had delivered her cargo, whatever it was, he was fair game. In colonial ports the press gangs scoured every public garden, grog-shop, and brothel. The naval class of ’95 was not an elite body of men.

The Navy’s record keeping does not make it possible to know for certain that Lockwood was pressed. He was listed as a volunteer on the Iphigenia’s muster, and in receipt of the bounty for volunteering. But this is weak evidence. The muster-rolls of naval vessels listed a pressed man as a volunteer if he accepted his fate, and allowed himself to collect the £5 bounty for signing on.

A ship’s committee, consisting of the first lieutenant, master, boatswain, gunner, carpenter, purser, and sometimes chaired by the captain himself, assessed the capabilities of each new man. In Lockwood’s case, had he been a true volunteer his seafaring record would presumably have been available, but pressed men, carrying nothing but themselves to the assessment committee, had to have their claims checked. The fact that he was signed on as able seaman, and was upgraded to master’s mate two days later, suggests that Lockwood’s status on his previous ship had been confirmed, perhaps by enquiries at dockside.

Along with the bounty, the Navy provided new men with clothing, known as slops, the cost of which was later deducted from their pay. For Lockwood, again strongly implying that he came unprepared and ill-equipped, the muster answers its question ‘How dressed?’ with the cryptic ‘Dead Mans Cloaths’. Lockwood entered the service beholden to an anonymous corpse, probably purchased when a late shipmate’s clothes were auctioned according to custom by the purser.

It would be a long, long journey to his transfiguration as the Honourable Anthony Lockwood, gentleman. Few people began their flight of Icarus from so lowly a position. But in the conditions of wartime, a master’s mate was firmly on the bottom rung of a ladder that could lead to promotion and social privilege. Lockwood’s story illustrates wonderfully the ‘upward mobility’ possible in the Royal Navy during this time of extreme turbulence and change.

A Royal Navy master was not a commissioned officer, and most never succeeded in crossing that line from ‘tarpaulin’ to ‘gentleman’. But below that line, masters were superior beings. They were the most important of the warrant officers who were appointed by the Navy Board to permanent positions in warships. With the purser, the surgeon and the chaplain, if one were appointed to a ship, the master was of ‘wardroom rank’, living with the commission officers. The other warrant officers, the gunner, bosun, carpenter, sailmaker, cook, and master-at-arms did not use the wardroom. As one of the ship’s ‘permanent’ officers, masters retained their position even when a ship was laid up ‘in ordinary’ during a period of peace. When on active service, a master was inferior only to the ship’s commissioned captain. Promotion for a warrant officer meant being transferred to a larger ship, when he received more pay for a higher rate.

The status and work of a ship’s master came out of the earliest years of the Royal Navy, when it owned few or none of its own ships. Merchant ships were ‘taken up’ for naval service, and with them came their own officers. The king would commission a military captain to take the ship to war, but still needed the master to manage the ship and navigate it. This division of responsibility became less clear once the Navy began to acquire its own ships, and once commissioned, captains began to learn how to navigate them. But at the end of the eighteenth century the master continued to have charge of navigating the ship, and to be responsible for the stowage of stores both to ensure their adequacy, and also that their placement, and the placement of ballast, did not compromise the seaworthiness of the ship. For two centuries the Navy had also relied upon its masters to be hydrographers, or chartmakers, a role which would prove to be crucial to Lockwood’s future.

Lockwood entered the service on a track which led quickly, if fortune conspired successfully with ambition, to a master’s position. Among his other duties, a master’s mate was responsible for the log board (a slate), marking up navigational observations during the day from which the master’s log was compiled.³ In addition, a master’s mate would be expected to assist where needed, and to serve as an apprentice in all the work of the master – the best training any sailor on active duty could receive in practical seamanship and ship’s management. The insatiable demand for replacement warrant officers during this phase of the wars meant that fast promotion was the rule rather than the exception.

If he had been employed on a slave ship, Lockwood would have found himself entirely at home during his first period of service in the Royal Navy in the West Indies. It was to be a terrifying encounter with the politics of power and ‘liberty’, both wearing the masks of principle, and neither giving quarter. On 28 March 1790 the French National Assembly had decreed that the franchise be extended to ‘persons of colour’, and on 15 May 1791 that such persons, born to free parents, could serve in colonial governing assemblies. But the Republic failed at first to establish its own rule over the decayed aristocrats of Sainte-Domingue, who feared that emancipation of the slaves would soon be imposed. What followed was a vile brew of racial self-interests. French Royalist planters plotted with the British and with the Spaniards of adjacent Santo Domingo, the modern Dominican Republic, against French republican commissioners who attempted to enforce the law of Paris. A revolt of mixed race ‘mulattos’ in defence of their new rights was suppressed, in part because they refused to invite slaves to join them. Many of them were slave-owners themselves, and they were determined to defend their status in a colonial regime which recognised 128 degrees of negritude.

The suppression of the first mulatto revolt was followed five months later by an uprising of slaves led by Boukman, a ferocious voodoo priest, vowing death to all ‘blancs’. Mutilation and rape were commonplace. One rampaging war party carried the body of a dead white baby on a pike as its standard. Some sense of the depth of racial fear inspired by the events in Sainte-Domingue can be gauged by the language of a contemporary white Jamaican, Bryan Edwards: ‘Upwards of one hundred thousand savage people, habituated to barbarities, avail themselves of the silence and obscurity of the night, and fall upon the peaceful and unsuspicious planters, like so many famished tigers, thirsty for human blood.’ Edwards estimated that ten thousand slaves and two thousand whites were killed, with hundreds more executed afterwards. Over a thousand plantations of sugar, coffee, indigo, and cotton were destroyed. As the confused fighting continued, the republican commissioners increasingly took sides with the blacks in the name of liberty, equality, and fraternity.

On 20 September 1793 a British expedition landed at Jeremie to the sound of church bells and a royal salute to George III. Two days later they were at Môle St Nicolas – important in defending approaches to Jamaica – which they ‘received’ with its fortifications and two hundred guns. But this early success was grimly deceptive.

General Adam Williamson, Governor General of Jamaica, had assured the British cabinet that he needed no more than the 877 troops he had at hand to secure Sainte-Domingue. Just three weeks before the British landng, however, an army of six hundred slaves, led by a former coachman, skinny, ugly, ascetic, and calling himself Toussaint L’Ouverture, allied with the Spaniards and issued a proclamation, addressed to ‘Brothers and Friends’: ‘I am Toussaint L’Ouverture. My name has perhaps become known to you. I am bent on vengeance. I desire the establishment of Liberty and Equality in St Domingue. I strive to bring them into being. Unite with us, brothers, and fight with us in the common cause.’⁵ He was a slave-owner’s nightmare – a black leader with military skills and organisational flair whose perceived nobility of character would challenge by heroic actions all the presiding notions of white superiority. On 6 May 1794 he switched sides, massacred the Spanish garrison at Marmelade, raised the Tricolour, and went on to conquer the region known as the Artibonite in the name of the Republic.

The British army occupied the capital, Port-au-Prince, on 4 June, and thus controlled the ports of Sainte-Domingue. The Royal Navy patrolled the coasts. But there was an enemy more formidable even than Toussaint. In the cane fields, in the misty valleys, on the ships at watch, ‘Yellow Jack’ took a far higher toll than rebellious Africans. The British died by the hundreds. Each vessel in which they sailed, wrote Edwards, ‘became a house of pestilence.’⁶ In the West Indies as a whole, yellow fever killed about a third of all new arrivals within a year of arrival. They died in agony. Bryan Edwards was again the bard of horror: ‘In a climate where every gale was fraught with poison and in a contest with uncounted hosts of barbarians, what could the best efforts of our countrymen effect? Their enemies indeed fled before them, but the arrows of pestilence pursued and arrested the victors in their career of conquest.’ By the end of 1797, out of a total of fifteen thousand British troops landed since 1794 on Sainte-Domingue, no more than three thousand were alive and in a condition for service.⁷ So many dead men’s cloaths!

It was to assist in this dread and futile exercise that Lockwood was held to have volunteered. The Iphigenia, commanded by Captain J J Gardner, had been moored at Port Royal since 10 February gathering supplies and crew, for which a press gang was sent to Kingston as late as 20 April. Sailing again on 3 May, she was employed ferrying soldiers from the 81st and 96th regiments to Sainte-Domingue as reinforcements. By the 19th she anchored off St Marc awaiting a convoy. After taking on board Governor Williamson himself, Port au Prince was reached on the 26th. According to Edwards, the 96th ‘perished to a man!’

For the next fifteen months Iphigenia sailed in the waters between Jamaica and Sainte-Domingue, often in convoy, generally in port for only a few days, though she was moored at Port-au-Prince during November. She boarded many vessels. Most were West Indian and American neutrals, but she occasionally made a prize. It took the firing of a 12-pounder to bring to the schooner Polly off St Marc on 30 May 1795, and there was a more serious engagement on 8 August at Bay des Irois when Iphigenia captured a French national privateer of three guns and twenty-three men. She was taken into Port-au-Prince for sale and the prize money distributed on the 29th of the month. Putting out again on 8 December, Iphigenia continued her patrols, and transported troops from Port-au-Prince to Petit Riviere between 20–22 March, providing covering fire with other ships for an aborted landing at Leogane, and returned to Port-au-Prince on the 24th with cavalry and infantrymen. There she joined the rest of the Fleet, her crew reduced by many who had died of fever.

Three years later L’Ouverture was to expel the British from Sainte-Domingue, but long before then Lockwood found himself returning to England when Iphigenia was given orders to escort the homeward trade. Joining a convoy off Havana in June, she reached Plymouth Sound on 1 September. But so desperate was the Navy for experienced seamen that Lockwood’s homecoming led only to his being ‘turned over’ to another ship. On 20 September, Captain Gardner ‘Put the People on HMS Duke by order’. It was while serving in Duke that Lockwood was to witness one of the most remarkable events in British naval, and labour, history. The great mutiny at Spithead and its violent sequel at the Nore both mirrored, and contrasted with, the slave revolt in Haiti.

Commanded by Captain John Holloway, the Duke was a ‘second rate’ line-of-battle ship of 1,943 tons.¹⁰ Lockwood entered her on 11 September at Hamoaze as a ‘master mariner’, being provided with slops by the Navy Board to the value of 16s 6d.¹¹ Eleven days later

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