Memoirs of a Seafaring Life William Spavens Folio Society 2001


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Memoirs Of A Seafaring Life. The Narrative Of William Spavens, Pensioner Of The Naval Chest At Chatham

Dr. Rodger provides an informative Introduction to William Spavens’s Narrative first published in Lincolnshire (the author was born in the county) in 1796. Original editions are now extremely rare. This is one of only a handful of 18th century first-hand accounts of the lives of ordinary seamen. William Spavens was at sea in the 1750’s and 1760’s, taking part in the Seven Years’ War. As the Editor points out, the account is particularly important for what it reveals to us about recruitment and prize-money. In an easy and relaxed style Spavens describes the discipline, allowance and customs of the Royal Navy, East India Company, and general merchant service in the mid-1700’s. He describes service which was sometimes brutal (he sailed under Captain Penhallow Cuming who was dismissed the service for the harsh treatment of his crew) ; and in lighter vein he provides brief descriptions of the lands he visited. He concludes with an interesting explanation of nautical terms. Slipcase illustration is “His Majesty’s Ship ‘Glatton’ . . . attacking a French Squadron consisting of six Frigates, a Brig, and a Cutter on the night of 15 July 1796 (an engraving by Robert Dodd 19 December 1796 from the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich)


  • Folio Society Second printing No. 1016
  • Publisher Folio Society, London; 2001
  • Navy Cloth Spine and Back Cover, Pictorial front Cover, Hardback, 254 pp
  • Illustrated with black and white and coloured plates from paintings.
  • Size 240 x 160mm, 900g

Condition: Near Fine – Light Wear to Slipcase Otherwise Unmarked Copy

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Weight 0.9 kg


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