Heavily Annotated With Manuscript Journal and Artwork by an Artistic English Sailor
Scarce complete set of early eighteenth century charts and three plates of ships, with attractive manuscript additions by an English sailor, Wildy French. The charts are of the Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic coasts, the first chart being titled 'Nouvelle carte des côtes de l'ocean contenant les côtes de Portugal et Barbarie... et les Isles de Canaries'.
The British Library holds four similar untitled sets of Mediterranean charts by Michelot and Bremond, Shirley noting that these also comprise sixteen charts and three plates of ships, as in our example.
The manuscript notes by French include a dramatic eye-witness account of the wreck of the ship Neptune on the Barbary coast on December 13, 1730. The account is embellished with a large watercolor of the event.
The author narrates events from the night of the shipwreck, death of the captain, rescue of most of the crew, engagement with enemy Turks and eventual return along the Thames, landing "at Bell Warfe Shadwell, April the 20th 1731."
The Wreck of ship Neptune Patrick Coppinger Master, which happnd: on the 13 Day of Decembr: 1730 on the coast of Barrbary 15 leag:s to the Eastwd. of Algier. Of which followes an Account of this unhappy accident; Being at an anchor in the Bay of Bingut we had little or no wind for the first part of the Forenoon at N. and NE, but very Black to Windward with much Thunder and Lightening, but seem'd to be at a great Distance with a great Swell from the Eastwar'd. At Noon we had a Fresh gale of wind at ENE and continued so till abought 8 in the evening when on a sudden the wind shifted from the ENE to the NNE and Blowed a Storm. We got down our lower Yards a Portland and struck our Topmast abought half an Hour after 8 we shiped a Sea over the Forecastle which washed the Deal Yawel over Board. Stove in the bulk head of the steerage broke into the Great Cabbin, carried away most of our dead lights with our Starboard Quarter Gallery and a Boy over Board. At 9 we cutt away our Long boat from a starn she being allmost full of water.... Our mizen mast whent next which carried away some of our Larboard quarter it falling to windward. After which our Capt: was in the great Cabbin getting some pappers or money as we suppos'd heard him call out two or three time to one of his servants for God's Sake to help him, but by the violence of the Surf and the Ship breaking up no Body possible could come to his assistance. Likewise our Second mate fearing our Quater Deck should tumble in with him the Sea beating very much under it trusted to his Swiming, Shood hands with his Brother Officer the Chief Mate and whent into the weather main chains and jump'd over board but neither he nor the Capt: was heard of after...
Six sheets show coastal profiles (including Portland, Cadiz and Cape Trafalgar, east end of Majorca, Cape Croisett, and Messina), and views of Stromboli, and Vesuvius with Torre de Greco in the foreground.
Engraved double-page charts:
1. Nouvelle Carte des Côtes de l'Ocean. Contenant Les Côtes de Portugal et Barbarie depuis Cap Finisterre... 1720.
2. Nouvelle Carte Generalle de la Mer Mediterranée... 1726
3. [Untitled chart showing Italy and parts of the Mediterranean coasts of Albania, Barbary, with inset of Tripoli]. Marseille: Bremond.
4. [Untitled chart showing Barbary coast, Greece, with an inset plan of Alexandria].
5. Nouvelle Carte de la Baye de Cadis, et du Detroit de Gibraltar. 1718.
6. Carte Particuliere des Côtes d'Espagne et Barbarie despuis Gibraltar jusqu'au Cap Ferat. 1723.
7. Suite des Costes d'Espagne et Barbarie, despuis Cartagene jusqu'a denia et depuis Cap Falcon jusqu'au Cap Carbon.. 1723.
8. Suitte des Côtes d'Espagne depuis le Cap St. Martin, jusqu'au Cap St. Sebastien, avec les Isles de Mayorque, Minorque et d'Yvice. 1723.
9. Nouvelle Carte de Côtes de Catalogne, Roussillon, Languedoc Provence, d'Italie et Partie de l'Isle de Corce. 1718 [2 double sheet charts]
10. Suitte de la Carte d'Italie depuis Mont Argentat Jusqu'a Messine, Les Côtes du Nord de Sicille et Celles de l'Est de Corce et Sardaigne. 1718.
11. Plan de la Baye et Rades de Marseille. 1720.
12. Nouvelle Carte de L'Isle de Corce et Partie de Celle de Sardaigne. 1719.
13. Nouvelle Carte de L'Isle de Sardaigne et Partie de Celle de Corce. 1719.
14. Plan du Golfe de Naples et Des Environs. 1718.
15. Nouvelle Carte de L'Isle de Malthe. 1718.
16. Nouvelle Carte de L'Archipel. 1715.
Three double-page engraved plates:
Coupe d'un Amiral de 104 pieces de Canon avec ses principales proportions et les noms des pieces du dedans. Se vendent a Marseille chez Laurent Bremond sur le Port, au Coin de Reboul.
Cross section view of a 17th century three-masted war ship. This separate engraving by Laurent Bremond would appear to have been copied from a similar plate in Hubert Jaillot's famous atlas, Le Neptune François, ou Atlas Nouveau des cartes marines (Paris and Amsterdam, 1693-1708). Only a single copy of this separate engraving by Laurent Bremond is noted in OCLC, that in the BNF.
Discriptions de Touttes les Pieces qui Entrent Dans la Construction d'un Vaisseau, du Premier rang lors quelles sont faconneez prestes de mette... Faict a Toulon, dans lescolle de la construction par François Coullomb. Fitz avec permision, 1683.
Coupe d'une Galere avec ses Proportions, Quille d'une Galere sur le Chantier. Barthelemy Chasse delineauit et Sculpsit. Se vendent a Marseille, Chez Laurent Bremond Sur le Port, au coin. ca. 1720.
Lieutenant Wildy French
The first record of service for Lieutenant Wildy French (c. 1720-1791) was in January 1734/5. In April 1744 French passed his lieutenant's exam and would soon set sail on the Dolphin, an East Indiaman under Captain Charles Pigot that plied the Coromandel Coast of India to Madras from 1744-5. In 1753 he married a Mary Hewson.
French's log notes that in February 1744 he was transferred to a captured prize ship, the Medways Prize, then in Batavia Bay. French served on the Medways Prize until it was paid off at Deptford Dockyard in August 1749 and was sold the following year. It was fortunate that he changed ships - the Dolphin disappeared on the homeward leg of her second voyage to Madras in 1750, exact date and place unknown.
French's death was announced in The Gentleman's Magazine: Obituary of considerable persons of 1791, wherein he is described as the former commander of the Zebecque packet and the oldest lieutenant in the Royal Navy.
Irish-born Royal Navy officer. Passed his lieutenants exam in April 1744. French's death was reported in The Gentleman's Magazine: Obituary of considerable persons for 1791, described therein as the oldest lieutenant in the Royal Navy and as the former commander of the Zebecque packet.