Category Archives: Exploration

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1860 – Benicia

 Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

 

This excerpt covers his time onboard The Sublej.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1860 – Benicia

While I was at San Francisco, I had my first experience of the American practical view of a situation. Bound upon a shooting excursion, I had taken the train to Benicia, and alighted with a small bag, gun and cartridges. I asked a railway man to carry my bag for me to a hack (cab). He looked at me, and said,

“Say, is it heavy?”
“No,” I said, “it is quite light”
“Waal then,” said he, “I guess you can carry it yourself.”
I had to, so I did.

Benicia is celebrated as the birthplace of John Heenan, the “Benicia Boy,” the famous American boxer. The great fight between Heenan and Tom Sayers was fought at Farnborough on the 17th April, [1860]. Heenan was a huge man, six feet and an inch in height; Sayers, Champion of England, five feet eight inches. The fight was interrupted. Both men received a silver belt. I remember well the event of the fight, though I was not present at it. More than three years afterwards, in December, [1863], Tom King beat Heenan.

From San Francisco we proceeded to Cape Horn, homeward bound. On these long sailing passages we used to amuse ourselves by spearing fish. Sitting on the dolphin-striker (the spar below the bowsprit) we harpooned albacore and bonito and dolphin, which is not the dolphin proper but the coryphee.

We rounded the Horn, buffeted by the huge seas of that tempestuous promontory. On that occasion, I actually saw the Horn, which is an inconspicuous island beaten upon by the great waves, standing amid a colony of little black islands. And off Buenos Aires we were caught in a pampero, the hurricane of South American waters. It blew from the land; and although we were three or four hundred miles out at sea, the master smelt it coming. Indeed, the whole air was odorous with the fragrance of new-mown hay; and then, down came the wind.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Deserters

Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard The Sublej.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Deserters


We left Valparaiso about the middle of April, [1866], and proceeded to Vancouver. On the way, the Sutlej ran into a French barque, taking her foremast and bowsprit out of her. Captain Coode stood by the rail, his arms crossed, his hands folded in his sleeves, looking down upon the wreck with a sardonic grin, while the French captain, gesticulating below, shouted, “O you goddam Englishman for you it is all-a-right, but for it it is not so nice!”

But we repaired all damages so that at the latter end he was better off than when he started.

We arrived at Vancouver early in June, and left a few days later, to encounter a terrific hurricane. It blew from the 18th June to the 22nd June; and the track of the ship on the chart during those four days looks like a diagram of cat’s-cradle. The ship was much battered, and her boats were lost. On this occasion, I heard the pipe go “Save ship” for the second time in my life.

We put into San Francisco to refit. Here many of our men deserted. In those days, it was impossible to prevent desertions on these coasts, although the sentries on board had their rifles loaded with ball cartridge. Once the men had landed we could not touch them. I used to meet the deserters on shore, and they used to chaff me. As we had lost our boats, the American dockyard supplied us with some. One day the officer of the watch noticed fourteen men getting into the cutter, which was lying at the boom. He hailed them from the deck. The men, returning no answer, promptly pushed off for the shore. The officer of the watch instantly called away the whaler, the only other boat available, intending to send a party in pursuit. But the deserters had foreseen that contingency, and had cut the falls just inside the lowering cleat, so that the whaler could not be lowered.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1856 – Chinese Kungsi

James Brooke became the first White Rajah of Sarawak in 1841 after inheriting £30,000 and investing it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailing for Borneo. 

We are publishing a blog series that covers his adventures – taken from one of the books in our library called Rajah Brooke by Sir Spenser St John published in 1899.

Catch-up with earlier posts in the James Rajah Brooke series here.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1856 – Chinese Kungsi

As the British Government would not allow me to ask for an exequatur from the Sarawak authorities, I left Kuching for Brunei in August [1856]. It was severing very precious ties. Before I sailed, Arthur Crookshank had returned to his post and brought with him, as his bride, a ‘vision of beauty,’ to use the Rajah’s own phrase.

During this year some capitalists in London formed the Borneo Company, to develop the resources of the territories under Sarawak rule. Coal had been discovered in various places, and there were valuable products to be collected, principally sago, gutta-percha and india-rubber; there was also the produce of the antimony mines, and subsequently cinnabar, or the metal containing quicksilver.

A short time before Mr Macdougall, the head of the Borneo Mission, had been raised in rank, and was named Bishop of Labuan and Sarawak.

As slight returns of fever and ague had weakened the Rajah, he accepted Sir William Hoste’s offer of a passage to Singapore in H.M.S. Spartan, where he passed a few months recruiting his health. Towards the end of January [1857] he returned to Sarawak in the Sir James Brooke, a steamer sent out by the Borneo Company to aid in their commercial work. The Rajah found the country greatly excited by persistent rumours of a Chinese conspiracy. His valuable officer, Mr Arthur Crookshank, fully believed in the hostile intentions of the Chinese Kungsi or Gold Working Company, and had therefore manned the forts with sufficient garrisons. But Sir James Brooke, having summoned the Chinese chiefs before him, and punished them for their illegal acts, was satisfied with their submission, and believed they would not be so insensate as to endeavour to carry out their previous threats. He therefore dismissed the extra men from the forts, and wrote to me on February 14th, Congratulate me on being free from all my troubles.

Excerpt from Rajah Brooke, published in 1899 by Sir Spenser St John

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Further Reading and External Links

James Rajah Brooke on Wikipedia

The Royalist Schooner

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1855 – Despatches

James Brooke became the first White Rajah of Sarawak in 1841 after inheriting £30,000 and investing it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailing for Borneo. 

We are publishing a blog series that covers his adventures – taken from one of the books in our library called Rajah Brooke by Sir Spenser St John published in 1899.

Catch-up with earlier posts in the James Rajah Brooke series here.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1855 – Despatches

In October [1855] Captain Brooke and Charles Grant left us for a visit home, and Arthur Crookshank was still absent in England, so that much work fell on the Rajah. We had scarcely settled down to a quiet life when we were disturbed by the arrival of despatches from Lord Clarendon, enclosing the Blue Book containing all the documents relating to the Commission, and expressing a cold approval of Sir James Brooke’s conduct. I also received despatches, one appointing me Consul General in Borneo, and the other containing an Order in Council directing me to send to the nearest English colony all British subjects accused of crimes and misdemeanours within the Sultan’s dominions, including Sarawak. The absurdity of such an Order in Council appears never to have struck the Foreign Office. In the first place, it was in direct opposition to our Treaty with the Brunei Government; secondly, the sending for trial to Singapore of a prisoner and all the witnesses would have entailed an expenditure of hundreds of pounds, possibly on account of a thief who had stolen the value of a shilling. It was no difficult matter to point out to our Government that it was wiser to let well alone; that the courts of Sarawak had always exercised jurisdiction over British subjects, and that no complaints of injustice had ever been made. I consequently suggested that the system then at work should be continued.

Any other solution would have been felt to be intolerable, both by the Rajah and by the native chiefs. Fortunately wise counsels prevailed in England, and the proposed arrangement, which was founded on ignorance, was reversed. I was authorised to inform the Sarawak Council that Her Majesty’s Government had no desire whatever to interfere with them, or to prevent them choosing what form of government they pleased; and I added that the British Government accepted the plan suggested for settling the question of jurisdiction. In fact, the Sarawak courts were authorised to continue to try British subjects as before.

The Rajah was deeply mortified by Lord Clarendon’s despatches. After all the promises the latter had made to the late Lord Ellesmere, that if the Commission reported in Sir James Brooke’s favour the Government would be prepared to do all that he desired, to receive a bare statement of approval of his conduct was very disheartening. After all the mischief which arose from the mere appointment of the Commission, the loss of prestige which produced the Patingi’s abortive plot, and later on the Chinese insurrection, such treatment was inexplicable to him. He was sore and indignant. He only asked for a steamer to be placed on the coast to check piracy. Even this was refused.

However, when Lord Clarendon agreed to recognise the jurisdiction of the Sarawak courts, the Rajah was greatly mollified. He wrote, “The Government has done far more than I expected, and our misunderstanding is at an end.” The strong expressions of good-will contained in the same despatch had a very tranquilising effect upon him, and he almost thought he had forgiven the Government their great injustice.

Excerpt from Rajah Brooke, published in 1899 by Sir Spenser St John

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Further Reading and External Links

James Rajah Brooke on Wikipedia

The Royalist Schooner

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1854 – Council of Sarawak

James Brooke became the first White Rajah of Sarawak in 1841 after inheriting £30,000 and investing it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailing for Borneo. 

We are publishing a blog series that covers his adventures – taken from one of the books in our library called Rajah Brooke by Sir Spenser St John published in 1899.

Catch-up with earlier posts in the James Rajah Brooke series here.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1854 – Council of Sarawak

Our next six months were passed quietly. The Rajah was anxious about the report of the Commission, but he felt that in all essential points it must be in his favour. During this peaceful time he busied himself with the interior affairs of the country, or retired for recreation to his charming cottage among the hills.

No one who had not lived in close intimacy with the Rajah could form any idea of the charm of his society. His conversation was always attractive, whether he was treating of political or religious questions, and when he was in good spirits, his ordinary talk was enlivened by playful humour. His affectionate disposition endeared him to all, and although subsequently differences arose with some of his followers and relatives, no one among them but preserved a kindly feeling towards their old chief. Our visits to the hill cottage left so pleasant an impression on my mind that they can never be forgotten.

At this time, on the advice of Earl Grey, the Rajah created a Council of Sarawak, the first members of which were himself and his two nephews, to represent the English element, and four Malay chiefs to represent the native inhabitants of Sarawak. It proved a most useful measure, and the native members showed themselves highly efficient.

Excerpt from Rajah Brooke, published in 1899 by Sir Spenser St John

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Further Reading and External Links

James Rajah Brooke on Wikipedia

The Royalist Schooner

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Landing Party

Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard The Sublej.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Landing Party

Charles Beresford
Charles Beresford

So the British and American fleets steamed out to sea, while the Spaniards fired upon Valparaiso from eight in the morning until four in the afternoon, setting the place on fire, and then retired to their anchorage outside. The British and American fleets then returned to the Bay, and I accompanied a landing-party to help to extinguish the conflagration.

Five of us were standing on the top of the high wall of a building whose roof had fallen in, so that the whole interior was a mass of burning wreckage, upon which we were directing the hose, when the men below shouted that the wall was falling. We slid down the ladder, and no sooner had we touched the ground than the whole wall tottered and fell inwards.

We put the fires out, but the inhabitants were so angry with us because we had not prevented the bombardment, that they requested that the landing-party should be sent back to their ships. Then the flames broke out afresh. For years the resentment of the Valparaisians remained so hot that it was inadvisable to land in the town men from British ships.

The meeting of the British and American seamen gave rise to much discussion concerning the respective merits of the British and American theories of gunnery. The Americans advocated the use of round shot to deliver a “racking blow”; the British preferred firing a pointed projectile which would penetrate the target instead of merely striking it. When an American bluejacket asked his British friend to explain the new English system of shell-fire, the British bluejacket said: “We casts our shot for the new gun so many fathoms long, and then, d’ye see, we cuts off a length at a time, regulatin’ the length required according to the ship we uses it against. For your ship, I reckon we should cut off about three and a half inches.”

The Spanish fleet was afflicted with scurvy; and we used to pull over to the Spanish ships in the evenings, bringing the officers presents of chicken, fresh meat and fruit.

Having done with Valparaiso, the Spaniards went to Callao; but there they had a more difficult job; for Callao was fortified, and the Spaniards were considerably damaged by the gun-fire from the forts.

During the progress of hostilities between the Chilians and the Spaniards, the Chilians constructed one of the first submarines. It was an American invention worked by hand and ballasted with water. The Chilians intended, or hoped, to sink the Spanish fleet with it. The submarine started from the beach on this enterprise; but it was never seen again. It simply plunged into the sea, and in the sea it remains to this day.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Valparaiso

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Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard The Sutlej.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Valparaiso

When we put into Valparaiso the Spanish fleet was threatening to bombard the town. Rather more than a year previously, in [1864], Spain had quarrelled with Chile, alleging that Chile had violated neutrality, and had committed other offences. In March, [1864], Spain began the diplomatic correspondence with Chile in which she demanded reparation, which was refused. Chile sent artillery and troops to Valparaiso. The Spanish admiral, Pareja, then proclaimed a blockade of the Chilian ports, and Chile declared war.

The European residents in Valparaiso, who owned an immense amount of valuable property stored in the customhouses, were terrified at the prospect of a bombardment, and petitioned Admiral Denman to prevent it. An American fleet of warships was also lying in the Bay. Among them was the Miantonomoh, the second screw ironclad that ever came through the Straits of Magellan, the first being the Spanish ironclad Numancia.

When the Miantonomoh crossed the Atlantic in [1866], The Times kindly remarked that the existing British Navy was henceforth useless, and that most of its vessels “were only fit to be laid up and ‘ painted that dirty yellow which is universally adopted to mark treachery, failure, and crime.'”

The British and American admirals consulted together as to the advisability of preventing the bombardment. The prospect of a fight cheered us all; and we entered into elaborate calculations of the relative strength of the Spanish fleet and the British-American force. As a matter of fact they were about equal The Spanish admiral, Nunez, who had succeeded Pareja, visited the Sutlej and conversed with Admiral Denman. It was reported by the midshipman who was A.D.C. to the admiral that, upon his departure, the Spaniard had said: “Very well, Admiral Denman, you know your duty and I know mine.” The information raised our hopes; but at the critical moment a telegram forbidding the British admiral to take action was received from the British Minister at Santiago.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Old Yarn

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Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard The Sutlej.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Old Yarn

In those days we had little bright-work, but plenty of whitewash and blacking. The test of a smart ship was that the lines of white or black should meet with absolute accuracy; and a fraction of error would be visited with the captain’s severe displeasure. For he employed condemnation instead of commendation. There was an old yarn about a mate of the main deck, who boasted that he had got to windward of his captain. We used to take live stock, poultry and sheep to sea in those days. The captain found fault with the mate because the fowls and coops were dirty. The mate whitewashed the chickens and blacked their legs and beaks. Now the poultry in question belonged to the captain. Thereafter the fowls died.

It was the custom for the admiral to take a cow or two to sea, and the officers took sheep and fowls. There is a tradition in the Navy that the cow used to be milked in the middle watch for the benefit of the officer on watch; and that, in order that the admiral should get his allowance of milk, the cow was filled up with water and made to leap backwards and forwards across the hatchways. Another tradition ordains that when the forage for the sheep ran short, the innocent animals were fitted with green spectacles, and thus equipped, they were fed on shavings.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – The Sutlej

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Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard HMS Sutlej.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – The Sutlej

We arrived at Valparaiso towards the end of January. I continued to discharge my duties in the Tribune until the middle of February, when I was transferred to the Sutlej. I was as happy on board the Tribune as I had been in the Marlborough and the Clio, and for the same reason: the splendid seamanship and constant sailorising.

The Sutlej was a steam frigate pierced for guns, of 3066 tons and 500 h.p., flagship of the Pacific station. Before I joined her, the commander-in-chief of the station was Admiral Kingcome, who had (as we say) come in through the hawse-pipe. It was the delight of this queer old admiral to beat the drum for night-quarters himself. He used to steal the drum, and trot away with it, rub-a-dub all along the lower deck, bending double beneath the hammocks of the sleeping seamen. On one of these occasions; so runs the yarn; a burly able seaman thrust his bare legs over the edge of his hammock, clipped the admiral under the shoulders, swung him to and fro, and, with an appropriate but unquotable objurgation, dispatched him forward with a kick.

Such (in a word) was the condition of the flagship to which Rear-Admiral the Honourable Joseph Denman succeeded, after the enjoyment of twenty-five years’ profound peace in the command of the Queen’s yacht.

The captain, Trevenen P. Coode, was tall and thin, hooked-nosed and elderly, much bent about the shoulders, with a habit of crossing his arms and folding his hands inside his sleeves. He was a taut hand and a fine seaman. He nearly broke my heart, old martinet that he was; for I was mate of the upper deck and the hull, and took an immense pride in keeping them immaculately clean; but they were never clean enough for Captain Trevenen P. Coode.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Promotion

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Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard HMS Tribune.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1865 – Promotion

While in the Tribune, two misfortunes occurred to me on the same day. As we all know, misfortunes never come singly. The sailmaker had reported me for skylarking; and it occurred to me that if he was going to put me in the report, he might as well have a better reason for that extreme action. I therefore rove a line attached to a sailmaker’s needle through the holes of the bench upon which he sat. When he seated himself to begin his work, I jerked the line, and he leaped into the air with a loud cry. That was my first misfortune. The second was entirely due to the rude and thoughtless conduct of another midshipman, who, in passing me as I sat at my sailmaker’s bench, industriously working, tilted me over. I took up the first thing which was handy, which happened to be a carpenter’s chisel, and hurled it at his retreating figure. It stuck and quivered in a portion of his anatomy which is (or was) considered by schoolmasters as designed to receive punishment. I had, of course, no intention of hurting him. But I was reported for the second time that day. I was put on watch and watch for a week, a penance which involved being four hours on and four hours off, my duties having to be done as usual during the watch off in the daytime.

We sailed from Vancouver early in December, [1865]. On 2nd January I was promoted to be acting sub-lieutenant I find that Captain Lord Gillford endorsed my certificate with the statement that Lord Charles Beresford had conducted himself “with sobriety, diligence, attention, and was always obedient to command; and I have been much pleased with the zealous manner in which he has performed his duties.”

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project