The Paramore’s Lieutenant

On November 22, Halley made this entry in his log book:

I sent my Lieutent: with my respects to him [Admiral Benbow] and to entreat him to take care of us.

And so Lieutenant Edward Harrison enters our tale.

Harrison was a ‘tarpaulin’, a man of sea-breeding, who rose to become a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. He is known to have been at sea by 1688, probably in the merchant service, and may have been ‘using the sea’ somewhat earlier.

He was first commissioned as a Royal Navy lieutenant on 16 February 1691; his passing certificate is not extant, but his subsequent career during the 1690s can be tracked through the Admiralty ledgers ADM 8/2-6.

His first appointment was as fourth lieutenant on the second rate ship, Windsor Castle, under the command of George Churchill. He again served under Churchill (and later John Clements) in his next post as fourth lieutenant on the first rate St Andrew. This post ran from about February 1692 to December 1693, and he became third lieutenant in June 1692 when the ship’s first lieutenant disappears from the record and the other lieutenants each move up a level.

He was also third lieutenant on the Sandwich (second rate) under George Mees from January 1694 until about summer 1695, and then the next definite record is a commission dated 8 July 1696 for him to serve as first lieutenant on the third rate Suffolk under Captain John Johnson. This post ran until December 1696 when both he and Johnson were given new commissions to serve on the Edgar (third rate), with Harrison again as first lieutenant. He remained on the Edgar until his appointment to the Paramore in October 1698.

His experience was varied, from sailing on the high seas to the East Indies, to serving on a coastal pressing vessel at Newcastle, to sailing with the main fleet during the war.

He was a respected seaman, though apparently somewhat rough around the edges, being investigated in 1694 for “Cutting and abuseing one William Read a Shipwright” while serving on a vessel pressing men for HMS Sandwich (ADM 2/15 p 98).

This, then, is the respected and experienced officer who is due to be appointed mate on the Paramore, but Halley, who is concerned about on-board discipline before the voyage, requests that Harrison is given the rank of lieutenant, the better to maintain discipline among the officers and crew. It was the worst thing that Halley could do.

Halley has forgotten that he has reason to know the name of Edward Harrison – but Harrison hasn’t forgotten Halley, because Harrison has a grudge against Halley, and for all that Edmond will “[endeavour] all I could to oblige him”, Harrison will not be obliged.

He’s going to make Halley pay.


“Comission for Lieutent. Edward Harrison to be Mate & Lieutenant of his Majts. Pink ye Paramour, dated ye 4 Octr. 1698” (© National Archives (£), ADM 6/5)