Halley writes from Spithead

Alas, I’ve been obliged to neglect Captain Halley recently, as I’m horribly behind with work for my MA. I had intended to write a post on the Instructions given to him by the Admiralty before I published this letter, but I’m afraid that post will have to wait – although I hope Halley’s letter, sent from Spithead, will still be of interest to readers.

As usual, the letter’s addressed to Josiah Burchett, Secretary to the Admiralty, and in it, Halley informs Burchett of his proceedings to date and his progress (when weather permits!) in taking an account of the tides in the Channel. The “Warr” he refers to is the imminent War of the Spanish Succession.

Ships at Spithead, 1797 (Source: Wikimedia Commons, NMM ID )

Ships at Spithead 1797 (Source: Wikimedia Commons, NMM ID PAJ2308)

Spitt head July 29 1701

Honoured Sr

In obedience to their Lopps orders, I have since I left the Downs on the 19th of June, endeavoured to gett as exact an account of the Tides in the Channell as possible, and have ankered all over it, from the Forland to Portland, and from Blackness to the Casketts on the French side: and I have been particularly curious in this part between the Isle of Wight and Portland and the French Coast against it, where I find the Course of the Tides very extraordinary, but which I think I can describe effectually. I have been of late putt from my business by hard gales of Wind which drove me in hither, but still hope by the end of the Summer to give their Lopps a full account of the whole Channell, if not interrupted by the breaking out of Warr, which I find is suddainly expected here. If their Lopps have any further orders for me, I shall call in at Plymouth for them, designing to saile hence as this day [sic], and to tide it down, if the weather permitt it.

I am

Your Honours most obedt servt

Edm. Halley


[1] Halley to Burchett, 29 July 1701, TNA, ADM 1/1872

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