Naval Families, War and Duty in Britain, 1740-1820

Naval Families, War and Duty in Britain, 1740-1820

Ellen Gill


Boydell Press



Provides deep insights into the roles and responsibilities of men, women and children within naval families.
This book explores the competing demands of family, war and duty in the lives of eighteenth-century naval men and their families. It covers not just the men afloat and their wives ashore, but also the rich and complex financial, professional and fraternal networks that were essential to naval lives. By drawing on a substantial body of personal correspondence, the book goes beyond cultural and gendered stereotypes to examine the roles and responsibilities of men, women and children within a naval family and how war shaped and determined those roles. The families considered include those of several famous naval figures, including Philip Broke, Matthew Flinders and George Bass, and also the families of "lower deck" seamen, some of whom could not write for themselves and where data has been gleaned from previously unexplored petitions. The information provided contributes to a wider understanding of gender roles, especially masculinity, in the period and to eighteenth-century social and cultural history more broadly. Moreover, as insights into the intimate and emotional details of family life, especially between husbands and wives, are difficult to discover in any historical period (such intimacy being rarely recorded), the details presented here constitute a rare resource.

Ellen Gill completed her doctorate at the University of Sydney.


4 black and white illustrations
296 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Hardback, 9781783271092, November 2016
eBook, 9781782048244, November 2016
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS037060, HIS027150, HIS015000
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Table of Contents

Letters, love and duty
Family from afar: pregnancy, childbirth and raising young children
'Children of the service'
Men of war
Women of war
Prest to volunteer: reluctant sailors and the naval community
Negotiating with the nation: petitions and the language of appeal
Appendix: Cast of characters


Offers valuable insight into the domestic roles of naval men and their domestic relationships as they existed within the world of the Royal Navy.It also offers rare insight into their most intimate fears, joys, and struggles. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MARITIME HISTORY

Employing private letters, memorials and petitions, Ellen Gill has added new depth and strong familial twist to the usual narrative delving into naval career and duty. THE NORTHERN MARINER/LE MARIN DU NORD

A valuable contribution to the field, especially as a counterpoint to recent statistical studies on naval background and demography....I would recommend this book not just to naval historians but to anyone looking to incorporate a naval dimension to 18th-century patriotism, family and friendship, beyond the shadow cast by Nelson. REVIEWS IN HISTORY

The customary appreciation of naval families as a subject of neglect or indifference has a new corrective supplied by this book. The work is based on hundreds of letters to and from naval personnel . Gill opens new windows on the social lives of those ashore, presenting and examining the usual concerns of domestic survival in the face of war and months and years spent at sea by loved ones . Recommended. CHOICE