Ships' logs. Watercolors (paintings). Manuscripts, English -- 19th century.
Born 24 July 1823 to Joseph and Mary Ann Watson in Suffolk, England, Joseph Watson served in the Royal Navy from 1838 to 1886. On his first voyage, in 1838, Watson was a midshipman aboard the Asia. In 1846 he reached the rank of Lieutenant, and from 1856 to 1870 Watson successfully captained four ships, including the Clarence. Watson was appointed Marine Board Superintendent of the Mercantile Marine Office in 1870, retiring two years prior to his death on 21 January 1894.
This lined, black, leather-bound volume contains the abstract log of Captain Joseph Watson, commander of the East India Ship Clarence. The Clarence sailed from London to Madras and Calcutta, India, departing Calcutta for St. Helena and Demerara (British Guiana) before returning to London. The eleven-month voyage commenced 18 June 1864 and ended 3 May 1865. The log lists the crew, the passengers of the 18th regimental Hussars and their families who disembarked at Madras, and the ship's living cargo of 515 indentured servants, who are referred to in the log as Coolie immigrants. The detailed daily log records the ship's position, the weather, including barometric readings, and sea conditions. Also noted are encounters with and signals to other ships. Watson records the deaths of crew members, Hussar passengers, and the servants, including an account of an epidemic that took the lives of four to five immigrants a day. Captain Watson also recorded servants who jumped ship. When the Clarence reached Demerara on 5 March 1865, Watson notes the delivery of 175 immigrants in health, the deaths of 124 on board, and the sick sent to the hospital. Prior to reaching Calcutta, the Clarence survived a cyclone (3-5 October 1864 ) that hit land at the Bay of Bengal, leaving much of Calcutta in ruins and killing approximately 50,000 people. Captain Watson gives a detailed record of the storm, including hourly readings of wind and barometer. Arriving at Calcutta, Watson describes the devastation of the storm on the sea and land. Following the last recorded entry upon the Clarence's arrival in London on 3 May 1865, Captain Watson writes his account of the cyclone and also records other accounts written in an English newspaper. In addition to the log, there are one watercolor painting of the Prince of Wales ship, 1860, captained by Watson (see Manuscript Map Drawers); two letters, one from Watson and one to Watson from his uncle Thomas Watson; and a two-leaf abstract from the log of the E. I. Ship Newcastle from Calcutta towards Trinidad, 1865.
Sold by Voyager Press Rare Books & Manuscripts (Vancouver, B.C.), 2011.