Able Seaman

Officers Stationed in the Caribbean 1700-1725

10 posts in this topic

Hello all!

So I am quite new to this site and am very excited to pick the brains of such passionate people.

Why I'm here...

I have started writing a fictional, pirate novel series based in the Caribbean during the period of 1701-1725 [because of character backstories and whatnot] and keep hitting historical snags. My want is to write a book for people like us. Those of us who live and breathe history and laugh absurdly at Pirates of the Caribbean and its inability to choose a period. And although no body of writing is ever perfect, I want to be as authentic as possible. In today's society, even in books, I feel pirate related fights and personalities are not fairly projected and often fall into pop-culture ideas and stereotypes [*cough, cough* Jack Sparrow *cough, cough* Black Sails].

Why I'm here at this moment...

Question 1: I have spent large amounts of time attempting to find information, most of it from here [praise be to pyracy.com!], but can't seem to find anything about who was posted in the Caribbean during my time period. Most of the story takes place in Jamestowne, Havana [yeah, Spanish stuff!], Kingston, and Port Royal. So the question is, who filled those posts, where, and when? Any information would be helpful, even if it's not British. I will be making up names [because fiction] but it's always nice to sprinkle in some real ones. Plus I don't want to accidentally make up posts or falsify the names of superior officers if it's documented somewhere [yikes!].

Question 2: This is kind of an add-on to the first question, but what exactly were the postings in the New World? It's always hard to differentiate [especially online] from lists of officer postings from England proper to the Caribbean. Was there a Commander of the Watch on land for common crimes [especially in the colonies and Kingston]? An Admiral of the Fleet? Were military officers even stationed in the islands or just admiralty? I know that Sir George Byng was the Admiral of the Fleet in England but how many Admiral of the Fleets were there? Was there one stationed in the Caribbean?

Question 3: What power did each officer hold and what were their jobs [common crimes, officer commissions, etc.]? This question is mostly in reference to a scene I wrote between an Admiral of the Fleet [which is subject to change if one did not exist ;)] and Sir Nicholas Lawes, governor of Kingston, Jamaica. Could the governor tell an admiral of such rank what to do or vice versa? Or did they simply coexist? What types of things fell into each others jurisdictions or was jurisdiction not even a thing back then?

Question 4: Were the posts on a ship or a city? This is especially in correlation with Admirals as I have read from numerous sources that they spent most of their time on their flagships.

I know this was a long one and for those of you who made it to the end, I thank you for taking the time.

Again, any information is greatly appreciated as I am in a desperate way, haha.

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1701-25 is a long period! When exactly do you want to know about?

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The years 1720-1722 is when the books will take place. Anything else outside of that would just be helpful for who my characters worked with during Queen Anne's War and so on.

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Pick up this book

http://www.drenthpublishing.nl/colonialsoldiers/colonialsoldiers.html

Specifically Volume 2, Book 2

It has officer rosters for most of the Caribbean island for the broad span you have listed. Well of the English held islands anyways. I have the books, but sorry, even narrowing it to 2 years is more typing than I am capable of. If you narrow it to a specific island, on a specific year, and specific rank, I might be able to look up a couple of names for you, but anything more is just too expansive and if you need more, you should likely buy the book as research material.

If you google search the title, you might find North American sellers (or sellers for where ever you may be). I am in the Mid-West and ordered directly from the publisher in the Netherlands, and received it in under 2 weeks.

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I'm grateful for the offer but I'll just buy the books. I won't put you through that.

Thank you! This was exactly what I was looking for as far as names go and the backstories will be significantly improved! But I do have a couple more questions...

Are the specific jobs of the officers outlined in these books as well? The description said "biographical details" but I wasn't sure what that included.

I also noticed that the end year was 1714. Do you have any book titles that would cover the rest of my time frame? I searched for similar titles with later years but nothing came up. I did see these were recently released from Drenth, though. But it could be another couple of years before they come out with another series, if they do at all. Does it mention the original source material in the back of the books or do you think it would be material I couldn't access?

Thanks again! This was extremely helpful!

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I'm about to go away for a few days, I'll try and reply more fully on my return, but in the meantime if you're buying books I'd thoroughly recommend N.A.M Rodger's Command of the Ocean, and his earlier The Wooden World, for the best run down on the Royal Navy in the eighteenth century (CotO covers a very broad period, and TWW is mid-18thC, but both will give you the background you need for fiction writing).

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Much appreciated!

So I was reading the description of The Wooden World and that type of information seems like it would be extremely helpful but I'm a little hesitant to use it only because it's 50 years later and more. The mass overhaul of the Royal Navy after 1750 changed a lot of things [brass plating, uniforms, etc] and I wasn't sure if Command of the Ocean was the same book but years before and dealt with the exact same areas [as CotO delves into battles and voyages].

I came across another book called Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, 1700-1750 by Marcus Rediker. Do you have any thoughts about this book or the author? The description seems to touch similar areas but not as detailed and came off as bias towards pirates. And The Wooden World seemed to paint a very different picture of the Royal Navy. More collaborative instead of evil.

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The information on any individual is pretty scant. It is mostly a mention of the unit with some history of the unit, a list of officers, with their rank, and maybe a sentence or two of information about the office in question (at best, less in most cases).

While the book states 1714 as an "end" date, there is plenty of data that goes as late as the early 1720s. But I am unsure about any books that focus on the period after this in as much detail. It might exist, but I don;t know of it yet.

Glad it helped, and if you do find other sources, please do share them! I am always on the hunt for additional good books on soldiers of the Williamite and Queen Anne eras (or the eras surrounding that time).

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Oh good! If it reaches into the early 1720s then it shouldn't be a problem at all! And I will definitely share if I uncover any other sources! Would you be interested in non-British information if I happen to come across any?

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Yep, with the Wooden World, the focus is the mid-century (so 20-30 years after your period of interest), and some stuff changed in that time like the uniforms, as you say, but most of the information would be relevant.

Command of the Ocean is a much broader work, dealing with the social history, but also with the ships and operations of the Navy over a much larger period. A lot of the book would be completely irrelevant to you, but the stuff that is relevant would be priceless.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is worth reading, but you need to bear in mind that the author is an avowed marxist, both in historiographical terms and in his own politics, and that is a big influence in his work. It also deals specifically with the merchant marine rather than the Royal Navy. If you want to know about the merchant marine too then I'd suggest that BtDatDBS should be the fourth book you read, after you've read Ralph Davies' The Rise of the English Shipping Industry in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, Peter Earle's Sailors, English Merchant Seamen 1650-1775, and Daniel Vickers' Young Men and the Sea.

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