Communicating MarineLives

The MarineLives project uses a variety of digital and social media to communicate with its volunteers, and to reach a wider and developing public. 

Today’s Shipping News article examines our approach to communication and reviews our use of three specific vehicles – Facebook, Twitter, and the Shipping News blog – and explains our thinking behind their use.

Our early strategy

Our early communication efforts were centred on our website,, and on a wiki-based project manual we developed for our team of transcribers. 

We advertised for volunteer transcribers and team facilitators in a number of online media, ranging from the IHR website to genealogy fora. We also encouraged our early volunteer recruits to recommend the project on to friends and colleagues.

The role of our website was to provide a first port of call for potential volunteers seeking quick information about the project, but our focus was on eliciting email expressions of interest in volunteering.

The conversion rate from an emailed expression of interest to a signed up volunteer was remarkably high at about three to one, and the drop out rate after starting was relatively low.  This we attribute to our explict statement to all volunteers as to our expectations from them in terms of time, and our commitment to train and support volunteers who were grouped into virtual teams of three to five volunteers, with each team supported by a volunteer team facilitator. 

The most productive of our recruitment initiatives was to publish a short article in History Today about the project. 

This single article was the prompt for more than one third of the eventual thirty volunteers who worked on the MarineLives project between September and December 2012.

Our evolving social media strategy

We opened Facebook and Twitter accounts just a couple of weeks after launching our website, in July 2012.  Whereas we had some prior experience of Facebook, Twitter was a completely blank page.

In the early days of the project, we attempted to use Facebook and Twitter to drive viewers to our website, with the hope this would lead to volunteering. We had limited content to share, and the strategy was not a big success.  This was reflected in relatively low views per posting on Facebook.

Our Twitter followership grew more rapidly, with a decent level of response measured in interactions and mentions. We encouraged our volunteers to open their own Twitter accounts and to retweet and comment on our own postings.

Analysis of the followership shows a large number of academics from the fields of history and English literature, at all stages in their careers, together with a significant number of PhD candidates. The third well represented field of followers is drawn from digital humanists, digitally oriented librarians, and web oriented computer scientists. In total, they are drawn mainly from the United Kingdom and North America, but include Italians, Germans, Russians and Japanese.

Our breakthrough in terms of communication with our academic and wider audience came when we established the Shipping News blog in September 2012. This blog has become our vehicle to communicate synthesised content from the English Admiralty Court archives. After an early flurry of articles, we have settled down to a publishing rate of two or three new articles each month.

As our blog has grown in importance, it has replaced our website as our primary vehicle to publish synthesised material.  And as our corpus of full text transcriptions has grown to over 1.5 million words, the citations supporting our blog articles increasingly point through hyper links to a range of wikis containing the full text transcriptions, such as Annotate HCA 13/72 (the Admiralty Court deposition book for the years 1657-58).

Tempting as it has sometimes been to get content “out there”, our most read articles have been those into which we have put most work, in terms of text, images, and interactive maps. Good examples of highly viewed articles are: Fishing for whales, part one (January 22, 2013), The Admiralty Court and the Spanish West Indies (October 7th, 2013), and Language and Identity (November 8th, 2013).

The final piece in the strategy has been to use Colin Greenstreet’s personal account as a repository for published project documents. This is probably not the long term solution, but has the short term merit of being easy to use, with decent analytics of document views, and easy integration with other social media.

The top documents viewed via this repository are our Digital humanities and technical partnership discussion document (July 23, 2013) and our Case study of London whaling ship, the Owners Adventure, in 1656 (September 12, 2013).


Launched: July 20, 2012
Stats: 66 posts, 54 likes, average views per post = 35, highest view post = 270, lowest view post = 16
Use: Steer traffic to Shipping News blog and MarineLives Twitter account


Facebook – MarineLives Masthead, 24/11/13

Recent postings offering strong content and new functionality have achieved significantly higher viewership per posting

Facebook postings, Sep 2012 – Nov 2013

Facebook provides useful tools to monitor organic reach, post clicks, likes, comments and shares

Facebook – MarineLives: All posts, Aug 26 to Nov 23, 2013


Launched: July 11th, 2012
Stats: 364 tweets, 422 followers, average monthly tweets = 21
Use: Publicise new Shipping News blog entries, generate and maintain interest in MarineLives project, create a project voice, and support recruitment of project volunteers


@Marinelivesorg: Profile page

Twitter useful for (1) Recruitment of volunteers (transcription; PhD Forum) (2) Promoting blog and blog postings (3) Establishing academic connections leading to partnership, e.g. Bath Spa University, Universities of Mannheim and Ancona.

The Shipping News blog launch – Twitter response 60 minutes post announcement

PhD Forum – Twitter response 60 minutes post announcement








Launched: September 22, 2012
Stats: 32 postings (avg 2 per month), 20,000 blog visits since launch (vs. 2300 + Facebook visits since launch)
Use: Communicate synthesised, strongly visual content; encourage trial of other MarineLives resources –,,


Shipping News blog views are reported as running at over 2000 per month since the middle of 2013. These data strip out spam and spiders, but still probably contain some automated and other attempts to access or post to the blog.

Close inspection of the individual IP addresses, combined with country of origin, and the specific pages the viewers enter on and dwell on, suggests that the true viewership of the blog is running at 1000 + views per month.

Shipping News: Monthly blog postings, visits and page views, Sep 2012 – Nov 2013

The effect of social media promotion of new blog postings is quick, as can be seen for our posting on the Admiralty Court and the Spanish West Indies in the figure below

Shipping News: Twitter and Blog response to Spanish West Indies blog posting

 The interactive Google Map displayed in the blog posting above has been accessed 240 times since its publication on October 7th 2013.  An earlier map of Admiralty Court depositions by French witnesses in HCA 13/71 (1656-57) was published on December 16th, 2012, and has been viewed a remarkable 2,758 times.


In the figure below, the first peak in blog views was generated by the first two of three Tweets, and the second peak was generated by the one Facebook posting.  First day responses to Tweets and Facebook postings are almost instantaneous, with the great bulk occuring within sixty minutes of the postings.

Shipping News: Twitter and Blog response to Google the Court blog posting

An ideal Twitter response combines straight Retweets of a message with a repackaging and commenting on a message by opinion leaders, as in the example below

@MarineLivesOrg: Twitter interactions to Google the Court posting



Undoubtedly our use of social media will continue to evolve as we gain in experience, and as our project needs change.

We would be delighted to hear your own experiences of using social media as part of your communication strategy with volunteers and audiences of different types.

Please feel free to post your comments to the Shipping News blog, or alternatively to contact us directly.

Google the Court

Google now indexes English Admiralty Court records for the years 1657 and 1658 (HCA 13/72). Through Google searches, you can find and access transcribed  witness depositions transcribed by the MarineLives project team. In addition, the Marine-Lives Tools wiki has been indexed by Google, offering you a quick way to search for hearth tax and probate records related to the depositions.

How to find Court records on Google

The key to finding specific Court records on Google is to preface your Google searches with the term Annotate HCA. This term should be placed in inverted commas as below:

Then add you desired search term or search string.

To find records of Captain Christopher Myngs (1625-1666), a Commonwealth naval commander, try “Annotate HCA” + “Myngs”. The resulant Google search produces four results, consisting of two sopecific folios in the deposition volume HCA 13/72, and

Search string: “Annotate HCA” + “Myngs”

If you click on one of the folio references in Google you will go directly to our transcription in the MarineLives HCA 13/72 wiki:

HCA 13/72 f.163r – MarineLives transcription

If you click on one of the other Google references, you will go to related MarineLives material. For example, our biographical profile of Christopher Myngs on our Shipping News blog:

Sample search: Places

Geographical terms can be entered as single or multiple words. For example, the search string “Annotate HCA” + “Spanish West Indies” yields fourteen Google results showing MarineLives resources:

Search string: “Annotate HCA” + “Spanish West Indies”

Sample search: Commodities

Are you interested in material history?

Try searching for commodity references in the HCA records using Google.

How about: “Annotate HCA” + beere, which yields eight results.

HCA 13/72 Materials look up page




The first result is to a page named HCA 13/72 Materials.  You can use this page to look for spelling variants of the commodities you are interested, or simply to browse a listing of all commodities identified to date in HCA 13/72.


How to find MarineLives-Tools resources

The key to finding MarineLives-Tools resources on Google is to preface your Google searches with the term MarineLives-Tools. This term should be placed in inverted commas as below:

Then add you desired search term or search string.

For example, you may be interested in a particular merchant or mariner, and wish to know if there are MarineLives resources available to supplement references to that merchant or mariner in an Admiralty Court transcription.

Let’s take the merchant Jacob Lucie.

The Google search string “MarineLives-Tools” + “Lucie” reveals a transcribed probate record. The abstract and contextual note states that he was the brother of Luke Lucie and the widow of Captain Jeremy Blackman.

PROB 11/390/418Jacob Lucie will - MarineLives-Tools

PROB 11/390/418 Jacob Lucie will – MarineLives-Tools

The Google search results reveal a further MarineLives-Tools resource in our annotated Hearth Tax records for London, Middlesex, Kent and Surrey. In this case it is a footnote to the 1664 hearth tax records for Woolwich.

The note tells us that Captain Jeremy Blackman purchased a “Sugarhouse in Woolwich” together with Luke Lucie (Jacob’s brother) and Captain William Ryder. It also identifies the purchase of Tower Place in Woolwich by Blackman, Jacob Lucie and William Bovie, consisting of wharf, warren and marsh.

MarineLives project

The MarineLives project team is now working in partnership with a group of early modernists at Bath Spa University, coordinated by Dr Alan Marshall, and with informatics researchers at the University of Mannheim and University of Ancona.

We have also applied to join the Digitised Manuscripts to Europeana project with which the Mannheim and Ancona informatics groups are closely associated.

In terms of content, we are exploring how we can expand the annotated textual corpus to cover the years of the protectorate (1653-1659), using team faciitators and project volunteers.

In terms of technical capability, we are looking at semi-automated entity recognition and, closely linked to this, at web based semantic annotation using the tool Pundit.

We are also exploring the potential to link entity recognition in our textual corpus to entity recognition in archival metadata at national and county level. 

If you would like to learn more about our project plans and contribute to those plans please contact the project team by

clicking on
our contact form

Language and identity

The mid-C17th commercial world was one of many co-existing and interacting languages, without a dominant cross-regional trade language. 

Mid-C17th admiralty testimony regarding language, especially spoken languages, sometimes confounds modern expectations. Such testimony can reveals complex relationships connecting language and identity (both personal and group).

HCA 13/73 ff.14v-15r

HCA 13/73 ff.14v-15r

The MarineLives project team is looking for insights into commercial and linguistic relations within geographical areas such as the Mediterranean and the East Country. 

We are doing so by examining the languages used by mariners and merchants in their verbal (and written) communications as recorded in English High Court of Admiralty depositions in the 1650s,

Our team can now draw on a corpus of 1300 full text searchable Admiralty Court depositions from the 1650s and metadata for a further 1500 depositions made in the same court and period.

Case study: Italian speaking English boatswain and Italian speaking Greeks and Frenchmen

When the ship the Ryall was surprised and taken by the Tyger, on the immediate service of the Commonwealth, the boatswain of the Tyger was dispatched in the ship’s yawle to board the Ryall and to enquire where the ship came from and to learn the source of its lading of rice. 

The boatswain was a forty-four year old mariner named John Snarney from Blackwall in the parish of Stepney.  The man who replied was a Greek (“a Grecian”), who spoke to him in Italian, and at least part of the ensuing conversation took place in Italian, the English boatswain understanding the Italian tongue.

Detail, Carte du bassin méditerranéen, de l’Asie mineure etc., le Brun, 1714

Hee was in the first place answered by a Grecian (who spoke the Italian tongue which this deponent understandeth, and who was of the said ship that the said rice was taken …by the Italian men of warre from the Turks and that the same upon the Coast of Morea within the Archipelagos was … laden on board the Ryall by the Captaine of the said ship who was a Frenchman and who had bought the said rice of the said Italian man of warre,

The said Grecian allsoe then affirmeinge and telling this deponent that after such tyme as the said ffrench Captaine had soe bought the same the company of the Ryall by theire said Captaines order did make such speed to unlade and relate the same on board the Ryall that they never measured the said rice but least any obstruction by any other men of warre should interveene the same withall hast was put on bord the Ryall out of the Italian man of warre unmeasured, and that the said Rice was … first prize as being taken from the Turkes and now againe prize in the second place as being taken by the Tyger (1)

John Snarney continued his evidence, offering confirmation of his earlier statement:

Soe much hee this deponent saith was affirmed and told to the deponent ymediatly after both by a West Frenchman who spoke the Italian tongue and was gunners mate of the said ship and allsoe by one Charles an Englishman who was carpenter thereof (2)

How did the English boatswain come to understand Italian, and how good and active was his knowledge?  An answer by the same boatswain to a cross-interrogatory provides insight into the nature and source of his knowledge of Italian:

Hee saith and deposeth hee cannot speake the French tongue but saith hee can both speake and understand a great part of the comon or vulgar Italian tongue which hee learnt by his trading and travelling for many yeares together to Genoa, Leghorne, Naples. Civita Vechia, Messina, Palermo, Trapane, Venice, Zant, and other parts and places thereabouts (3)

The boatswain’s skills in comprehending and speaking Italian as a trade language were significant, though he says nothing about an ability to read or write in Italian.They had been acquired “on the job”, and were considerably stronger than the language skills of his contest, Francis Douglas. Douglas was a twenty-nine year old mariner and foremast man on the Triumph. Like Snarney he was from the London area, giving his residence as the parish of Saint Olave within the Burroughe of Southwarke. He boarded the Ryall the following morning, and stated that:

Hee can speake a little both of the Spanishe and Italian tongues and can in some measure understand them And saith that hee learnt the said languages by his often being at Cadiz, Saint Lucar, Genoa, Leghorne, and other places thereabout (4)

Case study: Armenian merchants, their language and multiple identities

Hojar Sefer was described in a series of HCA depositions he made in 1651 as a merchant of Spahan (sometimes written as Spaham or Spaheim), known now as Isfahan.  He described himself in one of his depositions as “a Persian borne in the dominion of the kinge of Persia and there dwelleth” (5), but it is clear that he regarded himself as Armenian as well as Persian, and signed all his depositions in Armenian script. (6)

Testimony of Hojah Peter, Armenian merchant, HCA 13/65 f.52r, Sept. 10th 1651

Certainly, he recognised his fellow merchants, the producents of several related causes, with whom he had been travelling in the French crewed ship the Saint Martin, as “Armenians”.  He states, for example, in one deposition that “the said producents were and are Armenians and Inhabitants of Smirna, and subiects of the Grand Seignor or Turkish Emperour” (7)

In this statement he defines the producents in terms of what we would now call “ethnicity” (which we impregnate with loose ideas of physical appearance, culture and religion), together with residence and subjectdom.

The Admiralty Court also recognised the status of most of the producents in the related causes as Armenians. The cause mentioned above is titled by the Court as “The claime of Cogia Jacomo and Cogia Kaniar Armenian marchants for their goods in the shipp the Saint Martin whereof Michael Audric was captaine”. (8)  Interestingly, their status as Armenians is used by the Admiralty court to define them, rather than the more usual reference in such case titles to individuals being of a certain town and country.

The status of Persian birth and/or residence appears to have been strong. In the cause of just one merchant from Persia (who was undoubtedly Armenian), the closely related cause is titled:

The Clayme of Coyia Petro of Spaham in Persia for his goods taken in the ship the Saint Martyn whereof Michael Audric was comader (9)

In another of the closely related causes, the title of the cause distinguishes between the two producents:

The claime of Ugala Armono a Persian and Agi Ma[XXX] an Armenian for their goods in the Saint Martin (10)

Hojah Sefer knew both these producents and states in his deposition relating to this cause that the goods for the first “the said Ugula A[?rumeno]” were laded by his factors at Smyrna, since Ugula himself was then at Ligorno) and the goods of the said Marco were laden by himselfe”.  He does not pick up on the distinction made in the title of the cause between the two producents, stating that “the said producents were and are Armenians and inhabitants of Smirna, and subiects of the Grand Seignor or Turkish Emperour.”

Another merchant “of the citie of Spaham in Persia”, Hojah Peter, introduced the concept of “descent” in his deposition to describe the three producents described in the title of the cause as “Merchants of Armenia”:

The said Cogia Jacomo, Cogia Sarankan, and Cogia Safer were and are marchants descended from Armenia, and doe use to trade betwixt Persia and Smyrna and alsoe from parts and places of the dominions of the Turkish Emperour to Smyrna aforesaid and from Smyrna to Ligorne, and doe use to trade and traffique in those quarters with the English and others and hold faire correspondence and commerce with them there which heee knoweth, because hee alsoe tradeth in like maner in those places and thereby hath observed the traffique of the said producents as aforesaid (11)

Signature of Hojah Peter, Armenian merchant, HCA 13/65 f.53v, Sept. 10th 1651

Hojah Peter goes on to make clear that “hee this deponent was and is a Persian a native of the foresaid citie of Spahan” and expands on the status of the producents:

The said Cogia Jacomo dwells in or neere the citie of Rivan in Persia and was borne there, and the said Cogia Safer was borne and liveth in Spaheim aforesaid, and the said Cogia Sarankan was borne in Constantinople aforesaid, and further saith that none of them are ffrench nor belonge to any ffranch factorie in Constantinople, Smyrna, or elsewhere nor have any relation to the ffranch nor pay any tribute or owe any obedience to the ffranch kinge, but are free marchants for themselves, living in Persia and Constantinople as aforesaid (12)

In this light, the Armenian descent of the merchants was an important unifying characteristic, given that they were born in three different towns or cities, of which two were in Persia and one in the dominions of the Turkish Emperor, and live in different towns or cities.

Unmentioned, but implicit, is that they shared the Armenian language as their primary written language.  This has to be inferred (though without certainty) from the signatures of the deponents who describe them.  These deponents, some of whom describe themselves as Armenian, all sign their depositions in distinctive Armenian script. (13)


(1) HCA 13/65 unfoliated, ML image P1180053
(2) HCA 13/65 nfoliated, ML image P1180054
(3) HCA 13/65 unfoliated, ML image P1180055
(4) HCA 13/65 unfoliated, ML image P1180056
(5) HCA 13/65 unfoliated, ML image PXXXXXXX
(6) HCA 13/65 unfoliated, ML image PXXXXXXX
(7) HCA 13/65 f.59r, ML image P1170492
(8) HCA 13/65 f.53v, ML image P1170481
(9) HCA 13/65 f.85r, ML image P1170544
(10) HCA 13/65 f.59r, ML image P1170492
(11) HCA 13/65 f.52r, ML image P1170478
(12) HCA 13/65 f.52v, ML image P1170479
(13) HCA 13/65 unfoliated, ML image PXXXXXX, HCA 13/65 unfoliated, ML image PXXXXXXX, HCA 13/65 unfoliated, ML image PXXXXXXX

The Admiralty Court and the Spanish West Indies

The MarineLives project team is experimenting with maps as a portal into English Admiralty Court data, and we would welcome your feedback and participation.

We have mapped some of the Admiralty Court cases in the late 1650s which deal with ships and locations in the Spanish West Indies.

View HCA_Spanish_West_Indies_1653-1659 in a larger map in a separate window.

The map contains locations for the ships the Mayflower (1648), the Lady of Conquest (1655-56), the Hope (1657-58), the Nicholas (1658), and the Saint John (1658).






Each of the ships is distinguished by a different coloured map pin, which is clickable, and which will reveal basic information about the case and deposition in which the ship’s location is mentioned. 

A prominent link will take you to the textual data which can then be browsed and searched.

The Mayflower (1648) was an English ship, owned by Samuell Vassall and company, and commanded by Captain Jacket. It made an agreement with the Spanish merchant don Louis da Chavez  to carry slaves under a Spanish licence, to be disembarked at the port of New Barcelona (on the coast of what is now Venezuela). John Kilvert, a 68 year old London merchant, had interpreted in the Admiralty court in 1651 for five Spaniards. These men had been at New Barcelona in 1648, and had witnessed the dealings of Captain Jacket with the governor of the city, and with the governor of San Domingo on Hispaniola. Despite the confirmation of the licence in San Domingo, the Advocate for the King of Spain in New Barcellona accused Jacket of possessing a false licence and dispatches. The Mayflower and its cargo of slaves was seized and Captain Jacket put in chains.

The Lady of Conquest (1655-56) was a “permission ship,” that is a Spanish ship which was allegedly licensed by the Portuguese governour of Angola and by the King of Spain to trade from Angola to Cartagena and other parts of the Spanish West Indies. The trade involved carrying “Blackmores, slaves and other merchandizes and bartering the same in the West Indies, and retourning hides, tobaccoes, tortoise shells, and plate thense to Angola.” The ship left Cadiz for Angola under the command of John Rodrigues da Calderon, where it loaded slaves. The 32 year old Portuguese merchant, Antonio da ffonseca ffranca, travelled on the ship with 50 slaves on the ship for his own account, which, together with other goods, he sold at Cartagena and purchased ” fourtie nine  potaccoes of tobaccoe, six hundred sixtie and three hides, and  foure chests of tortois shells.” These goods were intended for the Angolan market. Yet, at Cartagena, the local Spanish governor seized the Lady of Conquest for naval service, forcing da ffonseca ffranca to look for alternatives. In the absence of another ship bound for Angola, he loaded his goods on the Virgin Mary and All Saints of Cartagena, bound for Cadiz. The ship was later seized by the English and a legal dispute took place over the status of da ffonseca ffranca’s goods.

The Nicholas (1656) was captained by a Dutch man, Claes Johnson. When stopped by the English naval ship, the Maidstone ffrigott, Johnson claimed to have come from Curacao, which was in the possession of the States of the United Netherlands. The 40 year old carpenter on the Nicholas, Lawrence Peet from Wapping, spilled the beans to the Admiralty court, commenting  “this deponent knoweth [Curacao] was false for that he well knoweth shee came from Santo Domingo in Hispaniola whence this deponent came in her”

The Hope (1657-58) was an an Anglo-Portuguese/Jewish-Irish (and possibly Dutch) financed adventure which sailed from Amsterdam to the Spanish West Indies, masquerading as a Spanish ship. Many of the London merchants , both English and Portuguese-Jews, had previously been involved in the Canary trade. At the time of setting out the Hope the Canary trade was officially closed to the English due to war with the Spanish, though in practice it was still partially open in the late 1650s. The English merchant, John Page (known for his published commercial correspondence), was one of the setters out of the Hope.

John Mendez (a twenty-five year old Spaniard from La Palma in the Canaries hired as assistant to the Spanish captain) stated that “Mr Page, Mr Painter and Mr dunkin are English men and inhabitating merchants of this citie”, whereas “Mr Antonio ffernandez Caravajall, and Mr Antonio Rodriguez Robles alsoe merchants of this citie and reputed Portugueses, but Mr ffernandez is there indenizened.”[1] Though not stated by Mendez, we know from separate HCA and other sources that both Caravajall and Robles were Jews.  Augusti Coronel deposes in a case regarding a colourable adventure to the Canaries from London that “the said Robles his wife is alsoe a Portuguese, and is of her husbands religion, namely an Hebrew or Jew.”[2] The Jewish identity of the prominent London merchant, Antonio Fernandez Caravajal, with Portuguese and Canary Island connections, is well established and reported in the secondary literature.[3] As to the two Amsterdam partners, one was of Irish birth, and the other of unknown birth. Mendez reported  that John Tilly was “an Irishman borne but living in Amsterdam where alsoe liveth the said John Chanterwell”, but, whilst Chanterwell “hath formerly lived long in London, but whose countrey man he is this deponent knoweth not.”[4]

The Hope carried masters of both Spanish and Dutch origin, and a mixed crew including Spanish, Dutch, Irish and diverse others.  At Trinidad the Spanish captain “for a greate summe of money obtained a passe from the Governour of that place signifying that the said shipp was of and came from Spaine,” and was bound for Comana on the coast of modern Venezuela. The ship spent considerable time in the Spanish West Indies, trading at Comana, at Truxilla (on the coast of modern Honduras), and stopping off at Matenas on Cuba for water. The ship intended to return to Amsterdam to dispose of the Spanish goods, but was seized by the English near Lundy Island. In a scrabble to rejig the ship as an English, not a Spanish ship, all Spanish papers and clothes were hidden in the hold. A 17 year old Dutch sailor on the ship testified that the captain gave him “a bundle of papers and bidd him hide them in his bosoum or otherwise, and rather than they should be seene to make them away by burning or otherwise and this deponent tooke them and but them betweene his doublet and body at his breast, and afterwards this deponent put them in the drawer or under a table in the cabbin, and there left them.”

The Saint John (1658) was a Dutch vessel “commissionated by the Governour of Merida in the said Bay and Countrie of Campechia by authority and in the name of the king of Spaine.” Our informant is Henry Hendrickson “of Meppin in the Jurisdiction of Munster in Germania Mariner aged 22. yeares,” who was one of the company of the Saint Katherine aka the Kate), a ship seized by the Saint John in the Bay of Campechia, off the modern Venezuelan coast. Hendrickson showed some initiative when faced with crisis. Shortly before the capture of the Kate, the Kate had itself captured a Spanish vessel, the Saint Anthony, on which he was aboard. Pursued by the Saint John, the Saint Anthony ran ashore in the Bay of Campechia: ” where this examinate and others of the Companie
of the said shipp Kate then on board her did desert her,” and in order to make their escape “betaking themselves to two Canoes were surprized and taken by a Spanish shallopp, and brought prisoners to Campechia towne.” The mixed identity of the crew of the Saint John is striking, Hendrickson reporting that “all the officers of the said shipp the Saint John were Spaniards, saving onley the Gunner which was a dutchman, and that saving the said Gunner, and about six or seaven dutchmen more, all the shipps Crew did consist of Spaniard.”


Many thanks to Giovanni Colavizza, University Ca’ Foscari of Venice and Leibniz Institute of European History, Mainz, for assistance with Google Map embedding


1.  HCA 13/73 f.72v
2.  HCA 13/73 f.72v
3. Lucien Wolf, ‘The first English Jew: notes on Antonio Fernandez Caravajal, with some biographical documents,’ TJHSE 2 (1894-1895): 14-48, and Yosef Kaplan, ‘The Jewish profile of the Spanish-Portuguese community of London,’’ Judaism 41 (1992)
4.  HCA 13/73 f.72v

Christopher Myngs, naval officer

This article is the first in an occasional series, which will highlight individual witnesses in the English Admiralty Court (1653-1659).

The records of the English Admiralty court capture an extraordinary social mix.  Much of their interest lies in the paths they offer into otherwise now anonymous lives, a feature they share with the records of London’s criminal court, the Old Bailey.  Yet occasionally witnesses appeared who had a public profile, or who went on to have such a profile.  The thirty-two year old naval officer, Christopher Myngs is one of them.

Christopher Myngs (b.1625, d.1666), English naval officer

See deposition by Christopher Myngs, HCA 13/72 f.163r.  At the time of his deposition Myngs was the thirty-two year old commander of the Marston Moore frigate, which had returned to London after involvement in the English naval assault on Jamaica.

See also HCA 13/72 f.170r for the deposition of John Morris, a 19 year old sailor, of the parish of St. Buttolphs Algate, London, who gives a graphic account of the engagement of the Elizabeth frigate, also commanded by Christopher Myngs, against a large number of Dutch vessels in the first of the Anglo-Dutch naval wars (1653-55).

Morris describes “a fight against  the Dutch at sea wherein the said frigot tooke twenty saile of Dutch or hollanders.”  His is a no holds barred account, dwelling on the valour and wounds of one Thomas Cox:

“a splinter that strooke him on the throat of which hee bled very much and there was much adoe to stench the bleeding, and soe much the more difficult it was, because hee bled inwardly and that in such abundance that hee had much adoe to breathe.”

The same witness gives an eye witness account of Myngs command of the Marston Moore in the West Indies in early 1657 and assault upon Jamaica, in which both Morris and the recovered Thomas Cox took part. He describes a battle to take a town and a castle.

Credits: Christopher Myngs, Sir Peter Lely, oil on canvas,painting 1240 mm x 1017 mm; , 1655-66, National Maritime Museum (from Wikimedia commons)