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)