16. Pub Crawl

A recent visit to the Marquis of Granby pub in Westminster inspired this week’s investigation into eponymous wrecks. It’s often said that more pubs are named after him than any other person. Certainly the name was popular enough to feature in the Pickwick Papers (1836-37).

The Marquis (1721-1770) was a commander and soldier’s soldier of the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) who is said to have set up many of his men as publicans after they left military service. The seven wrecks which bear his name are all clustered in the date range 1764-1784, and thus reveal a fashion in ship names reflecting his popularity as a national hero.

Judging by the 20 wrecks of ships named after the Duke of Wellington, though, I rather suspect that he eclipsed the Marquis in both ship and pub dedications! Normally, of course, when I run a database search for maritime archaeology, I don’t have to specify the monument type WRECK . . . but in these instances if I don’t, it will bring back all sorts of pubs as well as shipwrecks! The same is true of names such as Golden Lion, Red Lion, and so on.

On a much more sober note, today’s wreck, named after the Marquis, though brief in detail, can be regarded as a “good thing”, frustrating an intended slaving voyage by being driven ashore on the coast of Cumbria. Her home port of Lancaster was the fourth-largest port engaged in the slave trade after Liverpool, Bristol and London. To be wrecked near Whitehaven after leaving Lancaster, further south, suggests that the vessel was driven off course, probably as a result of a winter storm in January 1767 – not a particularly unusual fate for ships leaving Lancastrian ports; though we can’t rule out an initial call at Whitehaven, also involved in the slave trade.

Identification of this vessel as a slaver was made possible through a research project drawing on the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (TASTD), which has details of over 35,000 slaving voyages.  Conversely, I have been able to identify some shipwrecks as slave ships where either their final voyage was not included on the database or they were not previously identified as such. Research remains ongoing and will be passed on to the TASTD for update and there will be further Wreck of the Week updates on this score. For further background information on Lancashire’s involvement in the slave trade, visit here.

There is a good photograph and article on Kevin Dalton-Johnson’s Captured Africans memorial at Lancaster revealing the ‘deck’ structure, which names many of the ships involved.

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