The end of Halley’s first voyage


Extract from Halley’s first logbook, in another hand but with his signature (© British Library (£), Add MSS 30368, f.8v)

“The Gunns and Gunners Stores were delivered to the Tower Officers and that Same Evening we moord our Shipp at Deptford”

This was the final entry dictated by Captain Halley to his clerk on Tuesday 11 July 1699, with Halley’s own signature bringing the log of his first voyage to a close.

Halley was paid wages of £168 0s 0d, less deductions for the Royal Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich and for “bearing Supernumery’s”, leaving net pay of £140 2s 8d. Lieutenant Harrison received £71 5s 2d (£71 0s 0d net), and the clerk Caleb Harmon was paid £15 19s 3d (£15 3s 1d net), which his father apparently collected.

The pay book was signed by both Halley and Harrison:


Extract from the Pay Book (© National Archives (£), ADM 33/196)

There was one final page to Halley’s logbook: “A Table of the true Latitudes & Longitudes of the Severall Islands and Ports mentioned to have been seen in this Voyage”, and I’ve adapted that table for inclusion below.

Otherwise, Halley will spend the next few weeks persuading “their Lopps” to allow him a second voyage in Paramore – and he’ll set sail again in mid-September when this blog and his twitter feed (@HalleysLog) will resume.

I hope you’ll join us again in September, when we’ll start by looking at what Halley got up to over the summer – in the meantime, I wish all our readers a great summer!

Halley’s table of latitudes and longitudes

I’ve separated Halley’s table into two parts – one for latitude and one for longitude – so that I could add modern values for comparison with Halley’s. The modern values are taken from Wikipedia and may not represent the exact same location where Halley made his own observations, and so the figures and differences are indicative only (I haven’t noted whether the differences are plus/minus to keep things simple). 1 degree of latitude is roughly equal to 69 miles (approx 111 km), and 1 degree of longitude is also about 69 miles at the equator, but lessens as you approach the poles.

In both tables, the place names and ‘Halley’ column are taken from the table that concluded Halley’s logbook, but the values there are not always the same as those he recorded during the voyage. For example, the longitude values he recorded during the E-W Atlantic crossing were significantly in error – undoubtedly owing to his inexperience in reading the currents – but he realised this on reaching Brazil (via astronomical observations) and so recalculated his longitude values for the final table. (Harrison seems to have recorded more accurate values during this passage.)

As you’d expect, his latitude values are more accurate than his (amended) longitude values, although his longitude values around the Caribbean seem pretty good. Longitude is measured West from London.

Table 1 – LATITUDE





The Lizard




North part of Scilley








Isle of Sall




St Iago ye North Cape




Isle of May




Porto praya South side of St Iago




Fernando Loranho




Cape Dello at the Mouth of ye River of paraiba in Brasill




















Monte serrat North end








Nevis Road




Old Road of St Christophers












St Bartholomew




St Martins













The Lizard




North part of Scilley








Isle of Sall




St Iago ye North Cape




Isle of May




Porto praya South side of St Iago




Fernando Loranho




Cape Dello at the Mouth of ye River of paraiba in Brasill




















Monte serrat North end








Nevis Road




Old Road of St Christophers












St Bartholomew




St Martins








At the court martial

On Monday morning, 3rd July 1699, the court martial to examine the complaint of Captain Edmond Halley against Lieutenant Edward Harrison and other officers of the Paramore is held on board HMS Swiftsure with Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Admiral of the Blue, presiding:

(National Archives ADM 1/5261 f.35, dated 3 July 1699)

At a Court Martiall held abd: his Majties: Ship ye Swiftsure in ye Downes ye 3° July 1699


The Hon:ble Sr Clowdsly Shovell Kt: Admll of ye Blew.


[Captains]: Beaumont, Knapp, Haddock, Haugton, Jumper, Trevanion, Price, Wynn, Underdown, Elwes, Symonds

All duely Sworne pursuant to a late Act of Parliamt:

Enquiry was made into ye Complaint exhibited by Capt: Edmd: Halley Comander of his Majties Pink ye Paramour against Mr Edwd: Harrison Lt: & Mate & other Officers of ye Sd: Pink for Misbehaviour & Disrespect towards him their Comander. Upon a Strickt Examination into this Matter ye Court is of Opinion That Captain Halley has produced nothing to prove yt ye said Officers have at any time disobey’d or denyed his Comand thô there may have been some grumbling among them as there is generally in Small Vessels under such Circumstances & therefore ye Court does Accquitt ye Sd: Lt: Harrison & the other Officers of his Majties Pink ye Paramour of this Matter giving them a Severe reprimand for ye Same.

So Harrison found not guilty – but was this fair?

Was the civilian Halley over-sensitive to his officers’ behaviour as the court suggests? or did he fail to make his case adequately? or was the court perhaps prejudiced against him, the “philosophicall” captain?

I don’t think Halley was over-sensitive to Harrison’s behaviour (for a reason that will become apparent), but I do think his personality may have contributed to his difficulties. As a civilian captain and intellectual, he was always likely to have difficulty commanding the respect of his more experienced officers, and I think that probably needed a more authoritarian personality than Halley’s. Alan Cook describes him as a “masterful man” but I can’t say he comes across like that to me. [1] Cook knew far more about Halley than I do – so I may revise my opinion as I learn more – but Halley strikes me as someone who generally won people round by being pleasant and amiable towards them and I’m not sure he had strategies for dealing with people who weren’t amenable to that approach and who were determined to cause trouble – although he was certainly capable of standing up for himself.

The court ruled that Halley had failed to prove disobedience to, or denial of, his command, and as we’ll see tomorrow Halley didn’t actually accuse them of this – but I notice from looking through other reports of courts martial that “disobedience to command” often accompanied charges of disrespectful behaviour and so I wondered if Halley failed to make the most appropriate charge? In any event I would have thought he could have proved disobedience to command as his logbook details the event when Harrison tried to sail round the north end of Barbados, contrary to Halley’s orders, and then persisted in the course until Halley came on deck to remonstrate with him. [2]

But while I think that Halley’s kindly disposition was part of the problem and that he may not have presented his case as effectively as he would wish, I do wonder if the court may have been prejudiced against him. I don’t know the background of the captains but the president, Sir Cloudesley Shovell, had risen from cabin boy to flag officer and might perhaps have been more inclined to favour the sea-bred Harrison than the intellectual Halley? I take the remark “under such Circumstances” to be a reference to tarpaulins serving under an inexperienced commander and perhaps some of the court sympathised more with Harrison on that account? [3] However, when Halley saluted Admiral Benbow with “5 peices” at the start of his voyage, Benbow returned him the same number – which was a great compliment to the civilian Halley from a Rear-Admiral of the fleet.

But the most important fact that emerged this day was the existence of Harrison’s long-time grudge against Halley, which Halley will reveal in a letter the next day. His letter is ambiguous as to whether this came out during the court martial or just after; but if it came out during the trial then that strongly suggests the court was not as sympathetic towards Halley as I think his case merited, and if it came out afterwards, then Harrison was fortunate to be acquitted by a court that was unaware of all the relevant information.

So what was this grudge that lay behind Harrison’s voyage-long ill-behaviour towards Halley? Come back tomorrow and we’ll take a close look at that letter and find out…


[1] Alan Cook, Edmond Halley: Charting the Heavens and the Seas (Oxford, 1998) p 317

[2] Many records of courts martial held at the National Archives include the depositions made by the main players and witnesses, but disappointingly none were present for Halley’s case; they would surely have provided a fascinating insight into what happened aboard the Paramore and the interplay between Harrison and Halley.

[3] I also noticed when looking through the courts martial reports that where the charge was disrespectful behaviour to a superior, the inferior officer would usually be required to apologise to the superior officer, so it seemed notable that Harrison wasn’t required to do this. Although he was acquitted, he did receive a severe reprimand and so an apology would have seemed in keeping with other reports.

The Admiralty acts on Halley’s letter

When Josiah Burchett, Secretary to the Admiralty, received Halley’s letter of June 23, he referred it to the Lords of the Admiralty and then communicated their Lordships’ opinion to Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Admiral of the Blue:

(Burchett to Shovell, dated 29 June 1699, National Archives ADM 2/26 p 34/extract)

Whereas Wee have recd. a Letter from Capt. halley Comandr. of his Ma:ties Vessell the Paramour Pink, complaining of Lieut. harrison, the officer which Acts as Mate and Lieutenant of the said Pink, a Copy whereof comes inclosed, Which Complaint Wee think fitting should be enquired into at a Court Martiall upon her arrivall in the Downes; You are therefore hereby reqd. and directed, to cause the same to be strictly enquired into and Tryed at a Court Martiall accordingly, for holding whereof You are Empowered by Our late Warrant to You.

So Halley will have his day in court – but will he have justice?

Halley and Peter the Great

In a previous post I mentioned that while Paramore had been purposely built for Halley’s voyage, Halley was not her first commander – that person was none other than Peter the Great!

In 1696 Peter became sole ruler of Russia after the death of Ivan, his half-brother and joint-Tsar, and immediately began a grand project to modernise his backward country.


Peter by Godfrey Kneller (© Royal Collection)

By the end of the year, preparations were under way for a Great Embassy that would travel through Europe recruiting allies against the Turks and studying western technologies. But what would be remarkable about this Embassy was that Peter himself would be part of it – not as its head, but as a private individual.

Peter was intent on travelling incognito to avoid the formality that would otherwise attend him and so he could work and move around like an ordinary citizen – though at 6 feet 7 inches tall, the Russian monarch was fated to stand out no matter how ‘ordinary’ he endeavoured to appear.

The Embassy left Moscow in March 1697 and travelled through northern Europe, arriving in Holland by mid-August. Here, Peter worked in the dockyards at Zaandam (where local boys threw stones at him) and at Amsterdam, but while Peter was impressed with Dutch ships, he was dissatisfied with their method of building them, finding they relied more on intuition and accumulated expertise than on mathematical precepts that Peter could learn and take back to Russia.

He was advised to visit England, where “this kind of practice is raised to the same perfection as other arts and sciences, and might be learned in a short time” [1] and so when William III (who was eager to cultivate Peter in order to secure certain trading rights for English merchants) invited Peter to visit England, Peter promptly accepted.

The main part of the Embassy stayed in Holland, while Peter and 15 companions set sail for England aboard HMS Yorke, flagship of Vice-Admiral Sir David Mitchell. It is said that Peter spent the voyage dressed as a Dutch sailor, and that he climbed to the top of the rigging, although he was unable to persuade the Admiral to climb aloft with him. [2]

The party arrived in London on January 11, and Peter initially resided in Norfolk Street, which ran between the Thames and the Strand (roughly where Temple tube is today), and it was here that Peter’s pet monkey is said to have startled William when it jumped on him during the King’s informal visit shortly after Peter’s arrival. [3]

But Norfolk Street wasn’t private enough for Peter and so in early February he moved his entourage south of the river to Sayes Court in Deptford, away from the intrusive curiosity of the London crowds and next door to the dockyards where Peter could continue his studies in shipbuilding.

Sayes Court was owned by the diarist and Fellow of the Royal Society, John Evelyn; it was a beautiful house admired by all people of taste, not least for its celebrated and influential garden. Evelyn had let the house to John Benbow in 1696, shortly after Benbow’s promotion to the rank of Admiral, but Evelyn was soon complaining of the “mortification of seeing every day much of my former labours and expense there impairing for want of a more polite tenant.”


Pity poor Mr Russell!

Oh dear. If Evelyn was dissatisfied with Benbow as a tenant, he was in for the shock of his life when his property was sub-let to the Czar of Muscovia. The destruction wrought by the visiting Russians on Sayes Court during their two-and-a-half months’ stay has passed into legend. Benbow sued the government for compensation, and the assessment by Sir Christopher Wren of the damage done to goods, buildings, and Evelyn’s cherished garden amounted to £350 9s 6d – more than seven times Halley’s annual Royal Society salary. [4]

Peter didn’t restrict himself to destroying one of England’s finest manor houses, her sailing vessels caught his attention too. On 7 March 1698, a letter from the King’s dockyard informed the Admiralty that:

A Little Yacht Called ye Dove wch: is hired from William Charlton of Greenwich to Waite on ye Czar of Muscovia and he goeing down to Woolwich … his Ma[jes]ty Steering himselfe run aboard one of ye Bomb Vessells wch Broake away ye knee Cheekes Figure Railes and all yt belonged to ye head… [5]

And a month later, on April 13th:

The Dove Yacht wch is hired from Mr Charlton of Greenwich to waite on ye Czar of Muscovia has Sustained such another Damage as I gave yo[u]r Hono[u]r An Acco[un]t of ye 7th March past, by his own Steering Run on board ye Henrietta Yacht in turning up ye River wch broak away all her head and shook the Vessell very much, and has caused her to be very Leakey. [6]

Bravo! Peter’s appetite for life was insatiable and he was rarely at rest between these impressive navigational displays. He visited the Mint at the Tower and the Observatory at Greenwich; he watched a mock battle off Portsmouth and a night-time gunnery display at Woolwich; he had an affair with an actress and walked under the outstretched arm of a giantess without bending; he drank copious amounts of hot pepper and brandy, and famously ate out a tavern when he tarried in Godalming.

And amid all this, Peter might possibly have met Edmond Halley.

Halley’s entry in the Biographia Britannica tells us that:

[Peter] sent for Mr Halley, and found him equal to the great character he had heard of him. He asked him many questions concerning the fleet which he intended to build, the sciences and arts which he wished to introduce into his dominions, and a thousand other subjects which his unbounded curiosity suggested; he was so well satisfied with Mr Halley’s answers, and so pleased with his conversation, that he admitted him familiarly to his table, and ranked him among the number of his friends… [7]

There is no known contemporary source that confirms their meeting and historians of Peter seem to regard this tale as part of the mythology that (unsurprisingly!) attaches to Peter’s visit to London. Yet none of the sources I looked at* mentioned the documented event that seems to offer the most likely indication that Peter and Halley met: Peter’s use of Halley’s ship Paramore.

In a letter dated 16 March 1698, the Admiralty writes to the Navy Board that:

The Czar of Muscovy having desired that his Matis Pink the Paramour at Deptford may be Rigg’d and brought afloat, in Ordr. to make Some Experimt. about her Sayling, We do therefore hereby desire & direct You … to give the necessary Orders for Rigg:g and bringing afloat the Said Vessell, & Employing her in such mañer as the Czar Shall desire…[8]


Order to rig the Paramore for the Tsar (© National Archives (£), ADM 2/178)

Now what’s interesting about this letter is that it says that Peter himself asked for Paramore to be brought afloat for his use, whereas the other vessels he employed all seem to have been proposed by the Admiralty: could it be that Peter made this specific request after meeting Halley, who perhaps talked to him about his ship? Halley’s diplomatic personality and nautical expertise would certainly seem to fit well with Peter’s character and maritime interests.

The semi-official Journal of the Great Embassy does not mention Halley but has entries for only 52 of the 105 days that Peter spent in England, and not everything that Peter is known to have done is recorded there. Peter might not have met Halley, but it seems to me just possible that he did.

And the story that Halley was one of those said to have pushed Peter through John Evelyn’s prized holly hedge in a wheelbarrow? Oh, now that’s undoubtedly mythical!

* ie sources which focus on Peter rather than on Halley – and there may be some that do mention Paramore beyond those I had time to look at.


[1] Arthur MacGregor, The Tsar in England, The Seventeenth Century, 19 (2004) p 117

[2] Anthony Cross, Peter the Great through British Eyes (Cambridge, 2000) p 16; MacGregor p 118

[3] Cross, p 18

[4] Sam Willis reproduces the itemised lists of the damage done to Sayes Court in his book, The Admiral Benbow, pp 241-244

[5] National Archives, ADM 106/3292, f.54v

[6] ibid, f.57r

[7] Biographia Britannica, Vol IV (1757), p 2517

[8] National Archives, ADM 2/178, p 462

Halley’s ship, the Paramore Pink

Since my last post, Halley made the decision to sail to the West Indies in the hope of finding a flag officer who could permit him to change those officers who had been giving him trouble, including mate and lieutenant, Edward Harrison, and boatswain, John Dodson. But when he reached the West Indies he found he was unable to do this without returning to England and so decided to abandon his voyage and return to London to petition “their Lopps” (lordships) to allow him to sail on a new voyage with different officers. He set sail north towards “Bermudas”, and is now crossing the Atlantic on a north-east course towards England, which he should reach in about a month’s time.

But before Halley arrives back in English waters I thought we should take a closer look at his ship, Paramore, which has been his home since leaving London last October.

I’ve written before about why I’m using the spelling Paramore, but what type of ship was she? how large? and what did she look like?


Fisher Harding, Master Shipwright (© National Maritime Museum)

Paramore was a type of ship known as a pink, a square-rigged vessel with a narrow stern. She was built at Deptford dockyard by Fisher Harding, who had been Master Shipwright at Deptford since 1686. I don’t know why this type of ship was chosen, as pinks were apparently most suited to coastal and shallow waters and Halley’s original plan had been to sail round the world, but the most likely explanation is that pinks were capacious, providing proportionally large storage space, which would have been useful for a small ship that was expected to spend lengthy periods on the high seas.

The Admiralty ordered her construction on 12 July 1693 and she was completed by April 1694. Two entries in the Deptford Letter Book give specific information about her size and appearance. One tells us that she measured:

Length by the Keell                             52 ft: 00 ins

Breadth from out to out Side            18 ft: 00 ins

Burthen                                              89 Tuns

while the other entry details the dimensions of her yards and 3 masts (see below). [1]


Extract from Deptford Letter Book (© National Archives (£), ADM 106/3291)

Paramore was an unrated vessel but she was listed with the 6th Rates in the monthly Disposition of Ships (a record of the whereabouts of the King’s ships at the 1st of each month).

Benjamin Middleton, the intended financier when the voyage was first proposed, was to be “consulted with about the conveniencies to be made in her for Men and Provisions” and there are several references to discussions with Middleton about the ship before he disappears from the project, though I haven’t come across anything specific in terms of, say, the number and layout of cabins.

When Paramore was being fitted out for Halley’s eventual departure in October 1698, she was mounted with “Six three Pounders of about four hundred Weight Each” and “Two Pattereroes” (small guns in swivels) and allowed a complement of 20 men.

In his log and letters from the early part of his voyage, Halley wrote that Paramore “proves an excellent Sea boat in bad Weather” but that she is “very Leewardly” and “goes to windward but indifferently”. The bad weather “opened some leaks which are considerable for a new shipp”, and Halley had to have these repaired and the sand ballast, which choked the pumps, changed for shingle before he could depart from the English coast.

Yet despite these problems, I’ve become rather fond of Paramore, and my favourite mental image is of the little ship sailing in company with Admiral Benbow’s squadron from Portsmouth to Madeira and being towed along by the Falmouth (“took a small Pink in Tow”).

I mentioned before that although Paramore was built specifically for Halley’s voyage, he was not her first captain – and that remarkable person will be the subject of my next post.


Drawing reconstructing HMS Paramore from sources (© Hakluyt Society (£), from Thrower, The Three Voyages of Edmond Halley)


[1] National Archives, Deptford Letter Book, ADM 106/3291 11 Apr 1694 and 13 Oct 1693. By comparison, Benbow’s flag ship, Gloucester, measured 120 ft 4 ins (keel), 37 ft 5 ins (beam), 896 tons burthen, was mounted with 60 guns and had a complement of 278 men. (Sam Willis, The Admiral Benbow (2010) and NA ADM 8/6).

Mr Hally has gott a ship: the origins of Halley’s voyage

“Mr Hally has gott a ship from the government, in which he has sett sail to goe round the globe on new discoverys, and the rectifying of geography…”, so wrote James Gregory to the Reverend Colin Campbell in May 1699, when Halley was by then on his way back to England. [1] But how had Halley, a natural philosopher and Clerk to the Royal Society, “gott” his ship and why had he been made her Master and Commander?

Halley’s voyage began on 20 October 1698, but it was first discussed nearly six years earlier and then suffered a number of false starts before Halley finally weighed anchor. The earliest references date from 1693, and the proposed voyage was rather different from that which eventually took place.

At a meeting of the Royal Society on 12 April 1693 it was minuted that:

The President was pleased to propose to the Society a Paper lately offered him by Mr. Bengamin Middleton, requesting the Assistence of this Society to procure for him a small Vessell of about 60. Tuns to be fitted out by the Government, but to be victualled, and manned at his own proper charges. And this in order to compass the Globe to make observations in the Magneticall Needle &c. The President in the name of the Society promised to use his endeavours towards the obtaining such a Vessell. [2]

Benjamin Middleton was a Fellow of the Royal Society, elected in 1687, and appears periodically in the minutes, usually reporting on matters relating to Barbados, where he owned property. He was probably the son of Colonel Thomas Middleton, a Navy Commissioner and colleague of Pepys, and may have been the Benjamin Middleton who attended Emmanuel College, Cambridge and had been admitted to Gray’s Inn.

Although Halley isn’t mentioned in the minute, he seems to have been involved in the project from the outset as Robert Hooke noted “Hally [talking] of Going in Middletō[n’s] ship to Disc[over]” in his diary some three months before the Royal Society minute; while Middleton’s proposal to the Society, dated March 1693, stated:

… It is therefore most humbly prayed that this Honble: Company would please to Lend their Assistence … to Obtaine of their Matys: a vessell … for a voyage to be undertaken by Benjamin Middleton Esqr. and Edmond Halley … the designe being to compass the Globe from East to West through the great South Sea. And the said Benj: Middleton … does oblige himselfe to goe the Voyage and to Victuall and Man the said Vessell at his owne proper Costs and Charges … And the Care of Making the Necessary Observations is undertaken by the sd. Edmund Halley, whose Capacity for Such Purposes is Supposed to be Sufficiently knowne to this Honble: Company. [3]

So the plan was that Middleton would finance the voyage if the government would provide the ship, and Halley would perform the observations – and their original intention was nothing less than to sail round the world!

In July 1693, the Admiralty informed the Navy Board that Middleton’s petition had been presented to the Queen, who was “graciously pleased to incourage the said undertakeing”, and directed the Board to give instructions for a vessel to be built. [4]

The vessel – Paramore – was ready for launching in April 1694 but the records then fall silent and nothing seems to happen till 11 February 1696 when the Admiralty communicated their intention to have Paramore fitted out as an Advice Boat – the Halley-Middleton voyage was off.

But just one week later the Admiralty wrote again, countermanding the order to refit her as she will now “proceed on ye. Service for which shee was built.” [5]

There are several suggestions why nothing happened after her launch and why the project was almost abandoned in February 1696: it may have been because of Queen Mary’s death in December 1694, or because of events in the Nine Years’ War, or because of the personal circumstances of either Halley or Middleton: given what happened next, I’d guess that something had changed in the affairs of Benjamin Middleton.

At this point, Halley, a man who got things done, took over the project and all correspondence was either addressed to Halley or refers to him, unlike the first phase when all documentation referred almost exclusively to Middleton.

Middleton makes just one more appearance, in a letter of June 1696 in which Halley advised the Admiralty of the number and quality of men he intended taking as crew. Middleton is mentioned as still going on the voyage, but it is now Sir John Hoskins who is named as providing security for the crew’s wages, though I suppose this could have been a precaution against Middleton dying on the voyage.

Sir John gave the required bond of £600, and on 4 June 1696 Halley received his commission as ‘Master and Commander without Instructions’. What experience Halley had to justify receiving this command of a Royal Navy ship will be looked at during his second voyage.

Twelve months’ stores were ordered and warrants for three officers issued, but then in August 1696 the Admiralty ordered that Paramore be laid up in the wet dock at Deptford until further notice – the voyage was off again.

This time we know the reason for the postponement, it was because Halley had accepted Newton’s offer to become Deputy Comptroller at the regional Mint at Chester during the Great Recoinage, and Halley was there from about autumn 1696 until spring 1698.

Once back in London he revived his plans for the voyage, and during this phase its status seems to have changed from a private to a government-funded project. There doesn’t seem to be a request for security to cover the crew’s wages, Halley has £100 imprest to him by the Admiralty for expenses – and unlike his first commission, his second, dated 19 August 1698, included a set of instructions.

Yet there was another delay during this third phase of preparations, for although Paramore was purposely built for Halley’s voyage and finally set sail on 20 October 1698 under his command, Halley was not the first man to command her – but that interesting person is a subject for a future post …


[1] The Correspondence of Isaac Newton, Vol IV, Letter 611

[2] Royal Society, Journal Book Original, JBO/9, p 118

[3] British Library, Sloane MS 4024; Royal Society, Collectanea Newtoniana, Vol IV

[4] National Maritime Museum, ADM/A/1797

[5] National Archives, ADM 2/176, p 459

The Boatswain

Halley doesn’t often write about what’s happening aboard the Paramore, about his interactions with his crew, but on the few occasions that he does, it hints at the unpleasantness he is experiencing and which we’ll hear rather more about at the end of the voyage.

One of these occasions is on 18 February 1699, and it brings to an end the longest tabulated section of his logbook. Halley writes:

This Morning between two and three looking out I found that my Boatswain who had the Watch, Steard a way NW instead of W (we now baring down W. for the Iseland of Fernando Loronho) I conclude with a designe to miss the Iseland, and frustrate my Voyage, though they pretended the Candle was out in the Bittacle, and they could not light it.

Halley’s boatswain was called John Dodson and there are records to show he served as gunner on a ketch, the Quaker, and then as gunner on the Joseph until August 1698 when he was appointed boatswain and gunner on the Paramore.

A boatswain was a warrant officer in charge of sails, rigging, cables and the like, who generally began as an ordinary seaman but who would have sufficient education to be able to account for stores and make written reports to the Navy Board.

Dodson was thus a man of basic education who had probably been at sea since his early youth, a very different type of man from Halley, the Oxford-educated, property-owner’s son. It’s not too difficult to imagine Dodson being resentful of the natural philosopher’s command of the ship – though it does seem surprising that his resentment would run so high as to cause him to try to miss landfall when the ship is running out of water. I take it his purpose is to make Halley look incompetent and encourage the thirsty crew to blame the inexperienced Halley for their plight.

Halley certainly took an immediate dislike to Dodson on his appointment, as he was one of the officers who caused Halley to ask that his mate, Edward Harrison, be given the rank of lieutenant, the better to keep them in order – a disastrous request, as time will show…