A History of the Voyages and Travels of Captain Nathaniel Uring.

URING Capt. Nathaniel (1725.)

£2250.00  [First Edition]

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MAROONING, SHIPWRECKS, DESERTIONS AND MUTINY

With New Droughts of the Bay of Honduras and the Caribee Islands; and particularly of St. Lucia... [with] A Relation of the late Intended Settlement of the Islands of St. Lucia and St. Vincent, in America; In Right of the Duke of Montagu, and under His Grace's Direction and Orders, in the Year 1722. 

First editions. 2 vols. 4 large folding charts & a folding table. 8vo. Modern half calf over marbled paper covered boards, gilt titles. Even browning and a few marginal chips, closed tear to map of Honduras expertly repaired, else a very good attractive set. xvi, 384; 136pp. London, J. Peel, 1726 & 

An important record of maritime life during the Golden Age of Piracy. This set includes both parts of this lively account of seafaring in the seventeenth and early-eighteenth centuries.

 

A History ..., though printed the year after A Relation ..., precedes it in the narrative. There were two issues of A History... printed by J. Peel in 1726, one with the catchword “A rela-” at the end linking it to its sibling volume, and the other without. The present issue is with the catchword. There is no recorded primacy.

 

Nathaniel Uring was a British merchant who went to sea in 1698 and “managed over the next twenty-three years to find his way to Virginia, the Baltic, Africa, Cádiz, the West Indies, New England, Ireland, Cartegena, Campeche, Tunis, Lisbon and Florence” (Redicker, 87).

 

Printed first, A Relation... concerns the colonisation attempt launched by the Second Duke of Montagu with Uring at the helm. Montagu had been granted governorship of the islands of St. Vincent and St. Lucia in the West Indies, and Uring was tasked with establishing seven shiploads of colonists there. The British naval squadron stationed in the West Indies, however, refused to support the new arrivals, and beset by French raids, they were forced to quit the islands. The contestation by the French hinged in part on the fact that St. Vincent belonged, by convention, to the indigenous Carib people (St Lucia, however, they claimed for the French crown). Montagu lost a small fortune in this venture, a sum Uring puts at £40,000. The folding table at the end of the volume breaks down much of the cost of provisioning. There are also two excellent maps, one of the Caribbean islands and one of St Lucia, replete with useful information on population size and distribution.

 

While A History... is a more general account of Uring’s seafaring life, it spares none of its trials and tribulations. On his first voyage to the West-Indies in 1697, the cabin boy Uring doesn’t even make it beyond Cornwall aboard the Swift Galley before being attacked by French privateers. This does not deter him, but strikes a trend for a merchant naval career begun in a particularly tumultuous period of Anglo-French and Anglo-Spanish relations. On subsequent voyages, Uring survives fire on board ship, marooning, shipwrecks, desertions and mutiny. In his account of the latter, he details uncovering a plot amongst his crewmen to turn pirate. A feature of this episode, which transpired near the Bay of Mexico, is the exposure of a ‘Round Robin’ petition - a maritime manuscript phenomena described by Marcus Redicker as “a cultural innovation from below, an effort of collective self-defence in the face of nearly unlimited and arbitrary authority” (Redicker, 236). Uring’s description of the document is as follows: “They take a large sheet of paper, and strike two circles, one a good distance without the other, in the inner circle they will write what they have a mind to have done; and between the two circular lines, they write their names, in and out, against the circles; beginning like the four cardinal points of the compass, rightly opposite to the other, and the rest as they go on signing one opposite to the other, and so continue till the paper is filled; which appears in a circle, and no one can be said to be first, so that they are all equally guilty” (ibid, 262).

 

Uring’s account of Honduras is considered one of the earliest and best and the chart of the Bay includes the Belisle river, here first described with accuracy. His vivid details of local natural history often include gastronomic potential, and the manatee, notably, gets this treatment. Whilst there is a great deal of content relating to the Spanish main, there is also fine account of Boston, followed by various anecdotes relaying incidents between European colonisers and Native Americans.

 

Sabin, 98124 & 98127; Paulau, 345707. Redicker, Marcus. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates, and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750. University of Pittsburg, 1989. 

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Stock Code: 233234

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