1840-1841. Three Small Folio standard printed logbooks (each ca. 32x26 cm). In three logs over 400 pages with manuscript entries, plus nine pages of entries for July - September 1840, written on loosely inserted watermarked laid paper leaves, ca. 32x20 cm (12 ½ x 8 in). One of the logbooks with over ninety mounted pencil drawings of various ships and boats, from ca. 11x9,5 cm (4 ¼ x 3 ¾ in) to ca. 2x2 cm (¾ x ¾ in). Also with numerous mounted and loosely inserted newspaper clippings on various matters. The other logbook with a mounted newspaper clipping with William Nevett’s obituary (1898) and three loosely inserted manuscript copies of the articles from “The Times” (March 1845, the voyage of “Larkins” and the loss of the troopship “Runnymede”). All three logbooks with William Nevett’s copper-engraved bookplates on the front pastedown endpapers. Period maroon quarter sheep with blue papered boards. Bindings slightly soiled and rubbed on extremities, one of the spines with a minor loss of head, a couple of leaves from Watt’s logbook removed, but most likely no loss of text. Overall a very good collection of internally clean and readable logbooks.
Historically significant collection of original logbooks giving a content-rich record of a classic East Indiaman’s trade voyage during the age of sail. A first-class ship “Larkins” under the command of Capt. Charles Ingram, hired by the East India Company as an “extra” or contract vessel, went to Calcutta and back to London in March 1840 - February 1841. The “Larkins” left the East India docks with cargo and passengers on March 12, called on at the Cape of Good Hope (May 31 – Jun. 8) and Madras (Jul. 18-19), and arrived in Calcutta on July 25. After a couple of months’ stay in Calcutta, where native lascars refitted the ship and loaded it with new cargo, she left for London on October 2, calling on at Madras (Oct. 22-25), Cape of Good Hope (Dec. 19-28), and St. Helena (Jan. 8). “Larkins” returned to the East India docks on Feb. 27.
One of the logs was filled in by H. Watt, the 4th mate on the outbound voyage, who registered events from March 12 to July 6, and from 1 to 11 December 1840. This logbook is illustrated with over ninety mounted small pencil drawings of various vessels and boats, including ships-of-war, cutters, brigs, steam paddlers, a “war canoe,” “a baidar,” “single or island canoe,” etc. Two other logbooks that record the entire voyage and “Larkins’” stay in Calcutta (Jul. 28 – Sept. 28), were kept by a young midshipman William Newett. Both Watt’s and Newett’s logs describe the same events and contain standard navigational recordings (the ship’s position and course, weather, winds, currents, operations with sails, geographical objects passed, vessels encountered, ship’s repairs, the remaining quantity of drinking water, etc.). Simultaneously, their description of the main events onboard sometimes differs and presents a vivid picture of English sailors’ hard life at sea in the first half of the 19th century.
The logs contain numerous notes about cases of crew’s “insolence,” insubordination, desertions, sicknesses, sailors stealing and drinking alcohol from the cargo, the death of the ship’s Butcher Francis Gore (fell overboard, “I must fear in a drunken fit,” to the Hooghly River in Calcutta and drowned on Aug. 11), etc. The entries provide some information about the ship’s cargo (casks of beer, wine, and sherry; “forty sheep,” “two horses with grooms,” “100 bales of jute,” sugar, “cutch,” “saltpetre,” etc.). While enduring storms in the Indian Ocean in June, “Larkins” lost several sheep who were washed overboard, and the horses got “much bruised, one nearly dead.” During the storms, several casks of various alcohol were displaced in the storage area (“No. 16 Cask Cape Wine, Burdon & Grey”, “No. 2 cask sherry”, “No. 18 Truman’s draught beer”), and some were found leaking and “half out” (Jun. 13).
Nevett’s logbooks also contain lists of crew members and passengers on “Larkin’s” outbound and homeward voyages, with details of their rank, age, home country, function aboard, where and when received on board and when landed. Among the passengers, he listed Captain Ingram’s wife, “American consul Sturges” (travelling from Calcutta to Portsmouth), Baptist missionary Banes, “Rev. Kempthorn, colonial chaplain” (travelling from Cape of Good Hope to St. Helena), as well as East India company civil servants and military officers, clerks, farmers, surgeons, traders, servants. The abbreviations indicate whether the passengers lived in the “Larkin’s” cuddy, steerage, or forecastle.
A list of “Larkin’s” crew on the return voyage contains rather unusual humorous comments by Nevett. Captain Charles Ingram is called “as big a rascal as ever lived,” chief mate J. Morris “a good fellow,” midshipman J.D.H. Edwardes “a rum fish,” midshipman J.C. Griffins “moderate sort of a fellow,” surgeon Smith “a regular ass,” boatswain J. James “a conceited know-nothing,” a black American steward J. Spinks “a big villain,” a black foretop sailor J. Williams “a thief, stole my monkey,” a French sailor E. Gramois “an impudent rascal,” Scotsman B. Stewart “a regular old trooper,” etc. Several crew members are called “impudent wretches” or “fools;” himself Nevett called “a prime sort of a fellow.”
The second volume of Nevitt’s log also contains “A few Remarks on the voyage,” saying the following: “In our voyage to Calcutta, we travelled a distance of 16,214 ½ English miles, & in returning 15,125 miles, making a sum total of 31,339 ½ miles. The weather both outward & homeward bound was finer, dryer & more pleasant (most of the experienced seamen said) than you might meet with again, if you trafficked between these two ports for the remainder of your life. Very little accidents occurred on board, there were only two or three of any consequence during the whole voyage, & good health also was prevalent, the only man that came to the untimely end & the only man we lost by death was our Butcher, who tumbled overboard (I must fear in a drunken fit) one night while we were moored in the River Hooghly, at Calcutta, & I should conjecture was carried down by the tide, which at the time was running down at a great rate. This accident happened on the 11th of August, at 11 h. 11 m. p.m. We never heard a word more about him, poor fellow, although we stayed there until the 28th of September.”
Overall an important content-rich source on the history of East India Company’s trade voyages in the first half of the 19th century.
The “Larkins” was launched as “Louisa” in 1808 and was purchased by John Pascal Larkins, who renamed her and put her to work for the East India Company as an “extra” or contract ship. She made at least 10 voyages for the Company, on several of which she transported convicts to Australia. In 1835 she was purchased by Ingram & Co. Charles Ingram remained her captain at least until 1843, and she stayed in the India trade until 1853, when the P&O purchased her for use as a coal hulk in western Australia. Her figurehead of a mustachioed man now resides in the Western Australian Museum.
William Nevitt immigrated to Upper Canada in 1849 and became a notable resident and a founder of the Anglican church in St. Williams, Ontario. His obituary from the “British Canadian” (Simcoe, Ontario, Nov. 9, 1898) is mounted on the inner side of the front cover of vol. 1 of Nevitt’s logbook, next to his bookplate. The motto on the bookplate reads “Aquila non capit muscas” (“The eagle doesn’t catch flies”).
Some excerpts from the logbooks:
April 4: “The looper cut his knee with an adze…”
April 5: “Found Ross incapable of steering the ship, having brought her by the lee…”
April 6: “Mr. Eckley [midshipman] taken in a fit on quarter deck, frightened all the Ladies…”
April 7: “J. Parker the painter insolent to Mr. Grant [midshipman]…”
May 1: “The following men wold not come out to receive the watch although repeatedly called by Mr. Goodchild, officer of the watch: Griffiths, Higgins, Martin, Behrings, Huxtable[?] & Parker.”
May 17: “Daylight strong breeze & cloudy, pumped ship at 17 inch, weather too unsettled for the performance of the Divine Service.”
May 18: “Strong wind with hard squalls & a heavy lead sea, ship pitching heavily.”
June 2-8, in Table Bay: “People employed as most useful, hoisting in & filling water casks & sending cargo ashore, receiving passengers’ luggage; also two horses with grooms, also forty sheep. Latter part of the week getting ready for sea…”
June 8: “E.A. Lister [?], midshipman, deserted the ship.”
June 9: “Heavy gales & a tremendous following sea. <…> Increasing gale with a heavy sea. During all 24 hours, ship ran uneasily & rolled heavily. Suppose it to have been the current on the edge of the bank…”
June 10: “Heavy gales & squally unsettled weather. <…> Blowing a complete hurricane at times with dark gloomy weather. Ship lurching violently & breaking everything adrift on deck. <…> A.m. Watch on deck securing articles on deck & below. Ship rolling violently shipping seas so much so that although the hatchways were battened down, the water found its way below. Midnight, a tremendous sea carried away the starboard hammock nettings & also several sheep. Horses much bruised, one nearly dead.”
June 12: “Found following casks &c. adrift & <…> from the violent working of the ship. Nos. 3 & 10, M.D., No. 16 Cask Cape Wine, Burdon & Grey, No. 2 cask sherry, S. No. 18 Truman’s draught beer, Stalkhart Esq. 1 box. These casks had all been left being up and bilge free & in every other respect properly & securely stowed. The case marked “Stalkhard Esqr.” had been thrown from the place where it was stowed and smashed by a cask of wine. Got most of the casks properly secured a second time.”
June 13: “Today the butcher reports 8 sheep to have been washed overboard during the late gale…”
March 28: “Exchanged signal with the Jupiter bound for Batavia, out 14 days…”
March 31: “Thos. Mellon Joiner came on the top in a most insolent manner with some small biscuit & water & demanded if that was sufficient for a hard working man, saying it was very mean to be served so & that he would have his short on the fore yard arm, as soon as he got to the Cape.”
October 1: “Lannaghan, Westcombe & Williams were brought on board by the <…?> boat, having attempted to desert the ship. Westcombe on coming on board behaved most disgracefully…”
October 16: “Several turtles in sight, lowered the boat & attempted to catch some of them, but to no purpose…”
October 23: “People employed discharging Madras cargo & passengers’ luggage. Got Lord Elphinstone’s horses over the side & sent ashore the empty water casks to be filled. Passengers leaving the ship.”
December 5: “Spoke the brig Fourteen, in want of provisions, <…> supplied her with the following, viz. (stores): 1 cask of flour, 1 bag of sugar, 1 keg of brandy.”
December 19: “Several black whales spouting about the ship. Rounded Green Point. Anchored in Table Bay.”
Dec. 20-27 in Table Bay: “The Bethel clergy man came on board & performed D.S. <…> 6 h.p.m. Hands discharging cargo & filling water casks. <…> Took in 100 bales of jute & stowed it. <…> Passengers came on board. <…> A new butcher & a new hand joined the ship.”
Dec. 20: “weighted & made sail <…> Ship York for Port Adelaide and barque Asia for London in company with us.”
January 8: “Daylight. Saw the Island of St. Helena bearing W.N.W. dist. 35 miles. <…> preparing to bring ship to the anchor & getting up luggage. Bounded the west part of the island.”
January 9: “Got a launch off & sent all the empty water casks on shore to be filled. <…> Got the water launch off, hoisted all the water casks in & stowed the. Commenced running in cable. Made all sail.”
“Log of the Larkins in Calcutta River”:
July 28: A.m. Mustered the crew at 6 h. & found several of the crew absent without leave. Employed discharging cargo. Boatswain’s gang about the rigging. 25 lascars employed. During these 24 hours continued rain. Lascars caulkers calking outside, 2 lascar sailmakers. Men absent: Bay, Higgins, Smith, Denning, Crow, Wood, Deberskin, Hutchins, Hennesey, Lannaghan, J. Nicholls, Hellen, Brie.
August 3: “…Found Wood the sailmaker deserted the ship taking all his tools with him.”
August 5: “… Received Hutchins & Smith on board from the jail…”
August 11: “All this day fine pleasant weather. Employed receiving and discharging cargo, 22 lascars employed, carpenter & caulkers as before, ends with fine weather. Absentees as yesterday and suspect some to have deserted the ship. At 11 p.m. Francis Gore, butcher, tumbled overboard & was drowned.”
August 14: “… Lascars not at work till nearly noon, owing to some dissension between the Sepoy & Baboo, employed receiving the cargo…”
August 17: “Found by the cooper’s report that a cask of wine had been broached in the afterhold, having found a bottle of wine in the besoms, which had been reported to Mr. Goodchild, but not made known to me (i.e. the chief mate Mr. Morrie) & when Mr. Goodchild found the cooper ha reported it to me, made this observation before his men: “Had he been one of the crew, he would have the cooper cobbed.” The cooper also reported one of the holders quite drunk laying along the side of the grog cask, with the being duty of the ship completely stopped in the hold. Towards evening Mr. Goodchild beastly intoxicated.”
August 18: Captain Ingram came on board & disrated Mr. Goodchild consequence to his repeated drunkeness (sic.). <…> Deberstine feeling sick having the venereal disease.
August 21: “Employed receiving cutch & saltpetre & also discharging cargo, 24 lascars employed.”
August 27: “Employed discharging iron & receiving sugar & cutch.”
September 17: “Several of the crew absent without leave, which is a great annoyance, as we want to bend sails today, remainder of the crew bending sails & getting them out of the sail cabin in the steerage. Lascars stowing away cargo. Rice fell off the main yard on deck & brassed himself severely. Sent him to the hospital.”.
Price: $4,500.00 USD