The Armada of the Strait: James P.R. Lyell and the Relación of Pedro de Rada

The publication of Carla Rahn Phillips’ The Struggle for the South Atlantic ensured that the Relación by the sixteenth-century Spanish clerk Pedro de Rada is now for the first time made available in print. Only acquired by a public institution in 1999, the Relación had a long and still little-known life in private hands. In this blog post, the independent specialist in antiquarian books and Hakluyt Society Council member Anthony Payne sheds light on this story by focusing on the manuscript’s twentieth-century owner, the British solicitor and bibliophile James P.R. Lyell.


Richard_HakluytHakluyt_signature

– Join the Hakluyt Society on www.hakluyt.com


A source of great satisfaction for an antiquarian bookseller is to discover a rarity and to see a major work of scholarship result from its acquisition by a research library. One such instance for me was the Hakluyt Society’s publication in December 2016 of The Struggle for the South Atlantic: The Armada of the Strait, 1581–1584, splendidly translated and edited by Carla Rahn Phillips from the Spanish manuscript Relación of Pedro de Rada, now in the Huntington Library, San Marino, California (MS HM 59416).

The Huntington purchased this from the antiquarian booksellers Bernard Quaritch Ltd in 1999, when I was one of the company’s directors. We had bought the manuscript shortly beforehand from another book dealer in London and, as soon as I had catalogued it, we offered it for sale as item 167 in our Catalogue 1257. It was promptly ordered by Bill Frank, the Huntington’s Curator of Hispanic, Cartographic and Western Historical Manuscripts, and was delivered to the library as soon as we received an export licence.

Professor Phillips has identified the 1742 ownership inscription of one Pedro de Chópite (possibly from the Basque country) in the manuscript, but this apart, nothing is known of its history until the twentieth century when it was acquired by James P.R. Lyell (1871–1948), whose distinctive bookplate is affixed to the margin of the first leaf.

A solicitor by profession, Lyell was a distinguished book collector and bibliographer. He developed an especially close relationship with Oxford’s Bodleian Library, which is marked by the bequest of one hundred of his medieval manuscripts to the library and his endowment of the Lyell Readership in Bibliography at Oxford.

At a talk he gave in 1939 on ‘books and book collecting’, Lyell recalled that ‘I began collecting at school – nibs and postage stamps’. He sold his stamps to eke out his father’s allowance as an undergraduate at University College London, and next, while training to become a solicitor, began to collect books, attending his first auction, at Hodgson’s rooms, in 1891. ‘Book-hunting’, the Oxford historian David Ogg remarked, then became Lyell’s ‘absorbing hobby, and if he parted from time to time with some of his treasures he knew there were always others waiting to be tracked down by the discerning collector’.

Early printed books were Lyell’s first interest. In 1914 he chanced to buy at Hodgson’s a copy of the Complutensian Polyglot, the magnificent six-volume Bible printed in Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic at Alcalá de Henares in 1514–17. When he got home from the sale, Lyell said, ‘I found that I had been fortunate enough to secure at a war-time price one of the most famous books in the world’, and it sparked a deep engagement in all books Spanish that led him to collect almost exclusively in that field for the next dozen or so years.

Not only did Lyell collect, but he learnt Spanish, travelled to Spain, and published a biography of the sponsor of the Complutensian Polyglot, Cardinal Ximenes, Statesman, Ecclesiastic, Soldier and Man of Letters with an Account of the Complutensian Polyglot Bible (London: Grafton, 1917), as well as a major study of Early Book Illustration in Spain (London: Grafton, 1926), which became the standard authority on the subject (in 1997 it appeared in a Spanish edition with updated notes). In time Lyell formed the largest private collection of Spanish books in Britain, but in 1927 he decided to move from London to Oxford and parted with most of its rarities, notably the works illustrated with woodcuts.

An allied bibliophilic pursuit of Lyell’s was his collection of books on the Spanish Armada (‘a very fine one’ he considered it). Research on this was the basis for the B.Litt. thesis awarded to him in 1932, aged sixty-one, as a member of New College, Oxford. He later sold the collection to Thomas W. Lamont, a partner in Pierpont Morgan & Co., who then presented it to Harvard.armada-straits

It can readily be appreciated, therefore, that Lyell’s acquisition of the manuscript of Pedro de Rada’s Relaciónreflected not only his interest in Spanish books but also in the naval history of the 1580s. I have not been able to discover when or where Lyell obtained it – it was perhaps on one of his visits to Spain, or maybe in the London trade, for example, from the leading booksellers, Maggs Brothers, who handled much high-quality Spanish material in the 1920s. Nor is it clear whether Lyell disposed of it during his lifetime or not. From the mid-1930s his focus turned to medieval manuscripts and these constituted the principal element in the collection dispersed after his death in 1948.

Items not bequeathed to the Bodleian, or bought from Lyell’s executors by the Bodleian (and a few by the National Library of Scotland), were acquired by Quaritch in 1951 and many, but not all, were included in Quaritch’s Catalogue 699, issued in 1952. Rada’s manuscript is not among those in the catalogue. It is possible that it was among Quaritch’s other, uncatalogued, purchases from Lyell’s collection, but this cannot be established from the firm’s surviving records for this period. It seems equally likely that Lyell sold it during the 1930s as his collecting interests developed in new directions.*


Anthony Payne is an antiquarian bookseller and past Vice-President of the Hakluyt Society. Besides his work in the antiquarian book market, Anthony Payne is engaged in historical research and has lectured at Princeton University, the University of York, the Warburg Institute, the National Maritime Museum, Gresham College and University College London. He is currently working on a major bibliographical study of Richard Hakluyt (1552–1616) and has previously published a short introductory survey, Richard Hakluyt: A Guide to His Books and to Those Associated with Him 1580–1625 (London: Bernard Quaritch Ltd, 2008).

* In compiling this blog I have referred to the biography of Lyell by Dennis E. Rhodes in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, which concludes that ‘he was a self-taught bibliophile and scholar of extraordinary enthusiasm and discrimination, and one who deserves to be remembered not only by Oxford but by the whole bibliographical world’. I have also drawn on Lyell’s posthumously published talk, ‘Books and Book Collecting’, Bodleian Library Record, vol. 3 (1951), pp. 278–81; R. W. Hunt, ‘The Lyell Bequest’, Bodleian Library Record, vol. 3 (1951), pp. 68–72; Maurice L. Ettinghausen, Rare Books and Royal Collectors: Memoirs of an Antiquarian Bookseller (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1966), pp. 76–8; and Albinia de la Mare’s introduction to her Catalogue of the Collection of Medieval Manuscripts Bequeathed to the Bodleian Library Oxford by James P. R. Lyell (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971).

@HakluytSociety – Become a member at www.hakluyt.com – #Hakluyt400

Advertisements

Richard Hakluyt, Jacques le Moyne, and Theodore de Bry’s 1591 Engravings of Florida Timucua Indians Part 2: The Florida Book

In this stimulating follow-up to his recent guest blog on Theodore de Bry, Richard Hakluyt and the Business of Books, Emeritus Professor Jerald T. Milanich continues to explore Richard Hakluyt‘s international network. In the present blog, his focus is on establishing the origin of Theodore de Bry’s 1591 engravings of Florida Timucua Indians, taking his readers on a grand tour of the sixteenth-century world of art, print, and publishing.

In his The Representation of the Overseas World in the De Bry Collection of Voyages (1590-1634),Michiel van Groesen points out that the 1591 Florida volume, among all the volumes, is peculiar for several reasons. First, the text is the only one of the 50 narratives that does not have a version published elsewhere. The narrative instead combines portions of René de Laudonnière’s account, previously published by Richard Hakluyt, with other sources, perhaps including information provided by Jacques le Moyne.

The title pages of both the Latin and German editions mention Le Moyne and Laudonnière while the German edition that was translated from the Latin edition also lists Jean Ribault and Dominque de Gourges as contributors. In 1568 De Gourges had avenged the 1565 Spanish attack on Fort Caroline (the French colony on the St. Johns River) with his own attack on the Spaniards. An account of the raid later was published in English by Hakluyt.


– Join the Hakluyt Society on www.hakluyt.com –


The 1591 Florida text may also contain information from another of the Fort Caroline colonists, Nicholas Le Challeux. Le Challeux’s Florida account was first published in France in 1566 (later published by De Bry in 1596 in a book with narratives about Peru and the Canary Islands). In reality the 1591 Florida volume, often mistakenly attributed solely to Le Moyne, is a composite of multiple accounts all of which are known from other sources except for Le Moyne’s own contribution, whatever that might have been.

Another peculiar thing about the Florida volume is that De Bry states that in order to publish the text it needed to be translated from English into Latin, not from French into Latin. Did someone other than Le Moyne or de Bry put the text together, somewhat like Hakluyt who had the English versions of Laudonnière, Ribault, and the others?

The Florida volume also is the only one of De Bry’s 27 books for which the engravings cannot be directly correlated with published or extant first-hand images, such as John White’s paintings or Hans Staden’s published drawings of Brazil. Making up images, however, was a common practice of De Bry. Van Groesen has shown that about 45% of the nearly 600 engravings in the 27 volumes were invented in De Bry’s shop. Many others are composite images that draw on multiple sources.

Van Groesen goes on to say that when De Bry invented an image, basing it on written accounts, he often included in the caption a phrase that went something like: “The history recounts that” or “derived from the account.” According to Van Groesen, at least 22 of the 42 Florida engravings were invented by De Bry, who drew their artistic muse from the accounts of Ribault, Laudonnière, possibly Le Moyne, and others.

How about the other engravings in the Florida volume? Did De Bry indeed acquire information, drawings, or paintings from Jacques le Moyne or his widow in London and, if so, were any of the latter as models for the engravings? De Bry states in the introductory remarks to the Florida volume that he did receive drawings from Le Moyne’s widow in 1588 (after Le Moyne had died in May of that year). An earlier attempt to acquire information from Le Moyne in 1587 had not been successful, though De Bry and Le Moyne (and Hakluyt?) may have had conversations about Florida.

What exactly did the art that De Bry received from Le Moyne’s widow in 1588 consist of? We don’t know. Some or all may have been the paintings and drawings Le Moyne did of European plants and animals, nearly a hundred of which are extant in archival collections in London and in New York.

I believe, after studying the 42 Florida engravings, that if Le Moyne supplied De Bry with sketches or drawing or paintings, it was not much. And I am not alone in that hypothesis. Of the 20 Florida engravings not overtly designated by De Bry to have been invented, Van Groesen has shown that 10 contain elements from other images, such as adding backgrounds. I would note that a large number of those 20 also contain elements taken from Staden’s Brazil images, which the De Bry’s later engraved.

De Bry also borrowed from André Thevet who in turn borrowed from Staden and others. In the late 16th and 17th centuries, attributing Brazilian Indian traits to images of North American Indians was a common practice.

Did De Bry have any idea of what the Timucua Indians looked like? I think he did, but I don’t think it came from Jacques le Moyne’s art. I think the images he used to engrave Timucua Indians came from John White.

Perhaps having not gotten what he needed from Le Moyne—who was dead—De Bry or more likely Hakluyt got John White to paint a Timucua man and a woman. I believe that White used his first-hand knowledge of American Indians and the narratives of Jean Ribault (published by Hakluyt) and René de Laudonnière to inform his two portraits of Timucua Indians. For instance, Jean Ribault wrote:

“The most part of them cover their waists and privities with hart [deer] skins painted most commonly with sundry colors; and the forepart of their bodies and armes, be painted with pretty devised works of [blue], red, and black…. The women have their bodies painted with a certain herb like unto moss whereof the cedar trees and all other trees be always covered. [The men are] naked and painted…; their hair … long and trussed up, with a lace made of herbs, to the top of their heads.”

And that is what White painted and what, I believe, found its way into de Bry’s engravings.

It is likely that Le Moyne never painted or drew a single Florida scene, but he may have provided information orally to De Bry and/or Hakluyt or in written notes that De Bry received in 1588 after Le Moyne’s death. Hakluyt may have played a role in combining such information with the accounts of Ribault, Laudonnière, and others to make up the text published in the Florida volume.

There is still work to be done, but what seems certain is that the Florida engravings cannot be accepted at face value as ethnographically accurate. They did, however, sell books and they continue to do so today.

Did you miss part 1 of this blog? Read it here


Jerald T. Milanich is Emeritus Professor at the University of Florida. He is the author of more than twenty books describing the Indian societies of the Americas and their interactions with Europeans during the colonial and post-colonial periods. Presently he divides his time between New York City and the Catskill Mountains.


@HakluytSociety – Become a member at www.hakluyt.com – #Hakluyt400

Theodore de Bry, Richard Hakluyt, and the Business of Books: De Bry’s 1591 Engravings of Florida Timucua Indians

Richard Hakluyt (1552-1616) was well connected to an international network of voyagers, printers, and publishers, and he liaised between German publisher Theodore de Bry and English artist John White for the sale of the latter’s watercolour drawings of Amerindians. This much is well-known. In this fascinating example of historical detective work – the first of two blog posts on De Bry’s 1591 engravings of Florida Timucua Indians – Emeritus Professor Jerald T. Milanich goes further to unravel the links between Hakluyt, De Bry, White, Jacques le Moyne, and Sir Walter Raleigh.

In his 1946 book The New World, the First Pictures of America Stefan Lorant reprinted Theodore de Bry’s engravings of Florida Timucua Indians first published in 1591. Lorant included an English translation of the narrative that had accompanied the engravings in 1591. Lorant maintained that the images were based on paintings done by Jacques le Moyne, a member of a French colony on the St. Johns River in Northeast Florida in 1564-1565. He also attributed the narrative to Le Moyne.


– Join the Hakluyt Society on www.hakluyt.com –


Since 1946 scholars, museum exhibition designers, and others have treated the engravings as accurate renderings of the Timucua Indians and their material culture. More than one person has referred erroneously to the engravings as having been done by Le Moyne. It is highly likely, however, that De Bry, whose book company published 27 illustrated volumes on the Americas, Africa, and Asia, simply made up the engravings, basing them on his imagination, written accounts, and borrowings from extant images.[i]

Jerald T. Milanich, Emeritus Professor at the University of Florida, is the author of more than twenty books describing the Indian societies of the Americas and their interactions with Europeans during the colonial and post-colonial periods. Presently he divides his time between New York City and the Catskill Mountains.

The story of the images and text involves Sir Walter Raleigh, Richard Hakluyt, English investors, a dead French artist, a live English artist, the lost Roanoke colony, and two French noblemen (one murdered, the other deceased). Events played out from Florida to London to Frankfurt.

milanich-figure-1
Scheme (somewhat tongue in cheek) of the relationships among the principle actors in the story of the Florida engravings. By Jerald T. Milanich.

Those of us across the Atlantic, myself included, now realize that the De Bry Florida engravings are bogus. They are not accurate ethnographic depictions of the Timucua Indians.

De Bry, Hakluyt, and the Business of Books

In the sixteenth century, books about the Americas were hot sellers in Europe. Among them are Hans Staden’s 1557 account of living among the Tupinambá Indians in Brazil (in English: True Story and Description of a Country of Wild, Naked, Grim, Man-eating People in the New World); André Thevet’s three volumes (1557, 1575, and 1584; the 1557 title is: Les Singularitez de la France antarctique); and Richard Hakluyt’s 1582 Divers Voyages.

Hakluyt published additional narratives in his multi-volume opus Principall Navigations of the English Nation, including one by Thomas Harriot about the ill-fated Roanoke colony in coastal North Carolina. Hakluyt also was instrumental in the 1586 publication of René de Laudonnière’s Histoire Notable de la Florida (publishing an English edition the next year; Laudonnière had died in 1574).

How does Theodore de Bry fit into all of this? A successful goldsmith and metallurgist, De Bry was earning an international reputation as a skilled engraver who could create wonderful printed images. Up into the 1560s books had featured wood block prints. The newest rage, copper engravings like those being produced by De Bry, resulted in clearer, more complex images.

In September 1588 De Bry and his family moved to Frankfurt and beginning in 1590 and continuing well into the 1620s they ran a book publishing business that took advantage of copper engravings. At the time Frankfurt was the center of book production in Europe and for nearly four decades the De Bry firm was what Michiel van Groesen calls “one of the most remarkable publishing houses of early modern Europe.”

Prior to moving to Frankfurt, Theodore de Bry spent more than three years in London with his family, having moved there in 1585 from Antwerp. It was in London in 1587 that De Bry celebrated his 60th birthday and where he came into contact with Richard Hakluyt and Jacques le Moyne, whom Hakluyt had met previously and who would apparently provide De Bry (and Hakluyt?) with firsthand knowledge of the French settlement in Florida.

In London, Hakluyt and other Englishmen convinced De Bry to publish a series of illustrated books containing accounts by Europeans who had visited the Americas, many of which Hakluyt had already published or would publish. Hakluyt had access to John White’s paintings of Algonquian Indians in North Carolina and he had the account by Thomas Harriot of the unsuccessful Roanoke colony. Hakluyt also was working on Le Moyne to produce paintings of Florida, suggesting that Sir Walter Raleigh would pay him.

Hakluyt and others, all Protestants with ties to Sir Walter Raleigh, were willing to financially back De Bry in the new publishing venture. De Bry’s first volume was to feature Harriot’s Roanoke narrative illustrated with engravings of John White’s paintings. There were to be English, French, Latin, and German editions.

The four editions of that first volume issued in 1590 were a financial success. The second volume, the account of the French in Florida which Hakluyt also had suggested to De Bry, was published in 1591 in Latin and German editions, and a third volume, with Hans Staden’s account of Brazil appeared in Latin in 1592 and German in 1593. Likely all three volumes were planned with Hakluyt while de Bry was in London.

In subsequent years the De Bry firm published other volumes on the Americas, and then went on to publish books on Africa, southern Asia, and the Far East. Ultimately there would be 13 volumes on the Americas and 14 on Africa and Asia.

Part 2 of this blog will follow shortly


Jerald T. Milanich is Emeritus Professor at the University of Florida. He is the author of more than twenty books describing the Indian societies of the Americas and their interactions with Europeans during the colonial and post-colonial periods. Presently he divides his time between New York City and the Catskill Mountains.


[i] European researchers like Michiel van Groesen, Christian Feest, and others have done much to clarify the sources of de Bry engravings and the le Moyne-de Bry connection. See van Groesen, The Representations of the Overseas World in the De Bry Collection of Voyages (1590-1634) (Leiden: Brill, 2012); Feest, “Jacques Le Moyne Minus Four,” European Review of Native American Studies 1(1):33-38; 1988; John Faupel, “An Appraisal of the Illustrations,” in A Foothold in Florida, The Eye-Witness Account of Four Voyages made by the French to that Region, by Sarah Lawson (East Grinstead, West Sussex, England: Antique Atlas Publications, 1992), pp. 150-178.

@HakluytSociety – Become a member at www.hakluyt.com – #Hakluyt400

 

Hakluyt@400 Quatercentenary programme Autumn 2016

This year is the 400th anniversary of the death of Richard Hakluyt (1552-1616) and the Hakluyt Society will mark this with an exciting programme of events in Oxford and at Hakluyt’s parish of Wetheringsett in Suffolk. Centrepiece of the Hakluyt@400 events will be the two-day international conference Richard Hakluyt and the Renaissance Discovery of the World, taking place in Oxford on 24-25 November (book your tickets here)

Two free exhibitions will accompany this interdisciplinary conference, both to be launched in October 2016: Hakluyt and Geography in Oxford 1550–1650 at Christ Church, Oxford, and The World in a Book: Hakluyt and Renaissance Discovery, at the Bodleian Library, Oxford. In addition, on Sunday 27 November there will be a commemorative service in All Saints Church, Wetheringsett, Suffolk. Read on for a detailed overview of events!


– Join the Hakluyt Society on www.hakluyt.com


Exhibitions

The two free exhibitions in Oxford will run from October to December 2016. On Friday 14 October, Hakluyt and Geography in Oxford 1550–1650 will be launched at Christ Church, Hakluyt’s old college, with a symposium on Renaissance scientific instruments and a reception. In November, events at Christ Church will include workshops on scientific instruments from the Christ Church collection by Dr Allan Chapman and Dr Stephen Johnston.

On Friday 28 October, The World in a Book: Hakluyt and Renaissance Discovery will be launched with a lecture (5:30pm) by William Poole (New College), introducing the books which heralded an era of exploration, discovery, and imperial expansion. The lecture opens a display at the Bodleian’s Weston Library of the works and collections of Richard Hakluyt. One of the greatest treasures of the library, the Codex Mendoza, once owned by Hakluyt, will be included in this exhibition.


Commemorative Service

At 10.30 a.m. on Sunday 27 November, there will be a commemorative service in All Saints Church, Wetheringsett, Suffolk, IP14 5PP, Hakluyt’s parish, which will be led by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, with the dedication of a stone plaque in memory of Richard Hakluyt. This will be followed by a buffet lunch in the Village Hall with a programme of music and readings. There will be an opportunity for small groups of Hakluyt Society members to visit the surviving part of Hakluyt’s former rectory.

Members who wish to be present at Wetheringsett are asked to contact the Society (office@hakluyt.com) as early as possible to assist the planning of the local organisers.


Conference

The two-day conference, Richard Hakluyt and the Renaissance Discovery of the World, takes place on 24 November at the Bodleian Library, and on 25 November at Christ Church, Oxford. Twenty renowned experts on Hakluyt and early modern travel and exploration have accepted an invitation to speak at the conference. The keynote lecture on 24 November, “No Land Unhabitable, Nor Sea Innavigable“: Hakluyt’s Argument from Design will be delivered by Professor Joyce Chaplin (Harvard University). At the conclusion of the event on 25 November, a free to attend public lecture, Voyages, Traffiques, Discoveries, will be given by the well-known broadcaster and historian Professor Michael Wood (more info below).


Hakluyt400-1


Full line-up

Keynote speakers

Professor Joyce Chaplin – Harvard University

Professor Michael Wood – The University of Manchester

Speakers

Professor Michael Brennan – University of Leeds

Professor Daniel Carey (organiser) – NUI Galway

Dr Heather Dalton – University of Melbourne

Professor Nandini Das – University of Liverpool

Professor Mary Fuller – MIT

Dr John Hemming – Hakluyt Society

Professor Claire Jowitt (organiser) – University of East Anglia

Professor Bernhard Klein – University of Kent

Professor Karen Ordahl Kupperman – New York University

Professor Emerita Joyce Lorimer – Tri University

Professor Ladan Niayesh – Université Paris Diderot

Professor Michael Leroy Oberg – SUNY-Geneseo

Anthony Payne (organiser) – Hakluyt Society

Professor emerita Carla Rahn Phillips – University of Minnesota

Professor Joan-Pau Rubiés – Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Professor Emeritus David Harris Sacks – Reed College

Professor Sebastian Sobecki – University of Groningen

Dr Felicity Stout – The University of Sheffield

Professor Michiel van Groesen – Leiden University


Registration and Bursaries

Registration for this two-day event costs £100 per person or £60 for members of the Hakluyt Society and for postgraduates. The fee includes coffee/tea, lunches, and a reception at Christ Church on the Thursday evening. Space is limited and early registration is advised.

A number of fee-waiver postgraduate bursaries are available, due to an award from the Society for Renaissance Studies. If you wish to apply for a bursary, please contact Professor Claire Jowitt (c.jowitt@uea.ac.uk) by 31 August 2016.

All postgraduates who register to attend the conference are entitled to a 50% reduction in membership of the Hakluyt Society for one calendar year (to £15.00). To join using this offer, please see http://www.hakluyt.com/hak-soc-membership.htm and also send confirmation of your registration to attend the conference to office@hakluyt.com.

To book your place, click here.


Hakluyt%40400 logo


@HakluytSociety – Become a member at www.hakluyt.com – #Hakluyt400

 

Essay Prize Series Part 2: The Manuscript Circulation of Sir Henry Mainwaring’s ‘A Brief Abstract’

In this second part of our mini-series on the Hakluyt Society Essay Prize, runner-up in last year’s competition Amy Bowles (Girton College, Cambridge) shares with us her innovative research on the manuscript circulation of Sir Henry Mainwaring’s A Brief Abstract, Exposition and Demonstration of all Parts and Things belonging to a Ship and Practique of Navigation. The earlier blog by fellow runner-up Katherine Parker can be found here and the CFP for the 2015-2016 competition (deadline: 1 Novemberhere.


– Join the Hakluyt Society on www.hakluyt.com


In the early 1620s, the naval officer and reformed pirate Sir Henry Mainwaring composed what is now thought to be the earliest extant dictionary of nautical terms. The Brief Abstract, Exposition and Demonstration of all Parts and Things belonging to a Ship and Practique of Navigation contains around 600 entries, alphabetically ordered with a preface, table of contents, and often a decorative title-page. Mainwaring explained the necessity of this work, writing that ‘very few Gentlemen (though they be called Sea-men) doe fully and wholy understand what belongs to their Profession: having onely some Scrambling Termes & Names belonging to some parts of a Ship’.[1]

Though the dictionary was composed between 1620 and 1623, it was printed for the first time in 1644, and enjoyed around twenty years of circulation in manuscript amongst seafaring noblemen. In one case, a manuscript’s weathered state attests to its regular use; BL Additional MS 21571 – the only copy produced in a pocket-friendly octavo format – retains significant water damage, perhaps acquired during its direct consultation at sea. However, the dictionary was also regarded as more than a reference work, and was catalogued and read alongside fashionable travel narratives like Richard Hakluyts Principal Navigations (1598-1600) and Samuel Purchas‘ Purchas his Pilgrims (1625).

My submission to the Hakluyt Society Essay Prize competition examined the twenty-one surviving copies of the Brief Abstract, eight of which were written by a single scribe, Ralph Crane.The dictionary’s manuscript circulation began with Crane’s early production of copies: his manuscripts include the five presentation copies dedicated – and in one case subscribed – by Mainwaring. It is my argument that Crane not only participated in the circulation of this text during its early stages, but that he was the sole scribe hired by Mainwaring to complete this project, taking on the role of a commissioned copyist. Crane’s early “official” copies of the dictionary were soon outnumbered by a proliferation of less authorised versions, which contained new entries, circulated under new titles, and no longer bore Mainwaring’s name.

I reconstructed the text’s original transmission through the different scribal styles and habits of the dictionary’s early copyists, and considered the manuscript transmission of the Brief Abstract in light of that of other naval works such as William Monson‘s tracts on seamanship, Nathaniel Boteler‘s Dialogues, and John Montgomery‘s sixteenth-century A treatice concerninge the navie, all of which also involved repeated copying by single scribes. By reconstructing the Brief Abstract‘s early circulation, my essay demonstrated the lasting effects which scribal transmitters have had upon the content of this important seventeenth-century naval text.

[1]     Henry Mainwaring, A Breife Abstract, Exposition, & Demonstration of parts & things belonging to a SHIP, & ye practique of NAVIGATION, National Maritime Museum Caird Library MS LEC/9, f. 11v.


Amy Bowles is a PhD student at Girton College, University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on the scribal circulation of early modern texts, with particular focus on the copyist Ralph Crane. She is also interested in scribal imitation of print, and the construction of early modern manuscripts more generally, especially bindings, bookmarks, and marbled paper. She can be found on Twitter as @amy_ab2126 

Henry Mainwaring, 'A Breife Abstract, Exposition, & Demonstration of parts & things belonging to a SHIP, & ye practique of NAVIGATION'. Lambeth Palace Library Sion College MS L.40.2/E48, fol. 1r.
Henry Mainwaring, ‘A Breife Abstract, Exposition, & Demonstration of parts & things belonging to a SHIP, & ye practique of NAVIGATION’. Lambeth Palace Library Sion College MS L.40.2/E48, fol. 1r.

@HakluytSociety – Become a member at www.hakluyt.com

Essay Prize Series Part 1: Printing the Pacific

The submissions for the 2014-2015 Hakluyt Society Essay Prize showcased some of the most exciting new research in the field of the history of travel, exploration and cultural encounter currently undertaken by postgraduate students and early career researchers. We are glad to announce that the top-3 contestants have kindly agreed to introduce their work on this blog. In this first installment of our mini-series on the Essay Prize, Katherine Parker (Pittsburgh) writes about her PhD research on Pacific travel writing which resulted in her excellent submission entitled ‘Circling a paper world’.


– Join the Hakluyt Society on www.hakluyt.com


I am grateful to have been chosen as an Honorable Mention in the Hakluyt Society’s Essay Prize Contest. As a student member and active participant, I think it vital that more early-career scholars join organizations such as the Hakluyt Society. New minds can bring fresh topics and methodologies, but younger colleagues also benefit from interaction with more seasoned scholars who can assess and direct their work. My own research, including the essay discussed here, owes a great debt to previous historians of exploration and encounter, and it is to them, especially Glyndwr Williams, that I credit my intellectual development.

In the paper submitted to the Hakluyt Society, I outline the major players and interdependent relationships within London that worked together to bring the Pacific to the printed page, followed by an analysis of the publication of a particular travel account, Anson’s Voyage Round the World (London: John and Paul Knapton, 1748) (see image). By tracing how information was gathered at sea and fixed in text and on maps, it is possible to see the trans-imperial collaborative, yet competitive, effort necessary to create a world on paper. Such a paper world was a vital tool that spurred European expansion later in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

I posit that when historians of the book write of book “production” they must more seriously examine the source material that went into the work, as well as the materials that make up a book. In this case, experiences at sea conditioned how the Pacific as a space was conveyed in text and engraved illustration, creating a deceptive sense of place for a readership that would never see the region. Of course, reader response is a complex reaction that cannot be controlled by author or editor, but it can be conditioned by material presentation. This theme is addressed through a discussion of the many forms, sizes, and changing presentations of the Voyage over time. Finally, the lessons learned about publishing Pacific travel accounts would serve as examples for later works, especially those of the nineteenth-century polar expeditions. Thus, Pacific exploration publications affected not only other spaces opened to imperial expansion, but also the book industry itself.

Briefly, I would like to describe my broader dissertation topic. The Pacific region was a salient topic throughout eighteenth-century Britain, especially from the late-seventeenth century culminating in the celebrated voyages of James Cook. When people mentioned the area, they touched upon discussions of overseas commerce, imperial politics, and navigational technology. As these discourses were presented primarily via print media, the Pacific had to shift from observable entity to material product negotiated through numerous overlapping networks of production, circulation, and reception. How the Pacific came to material form represents a reciprocal, dynamic system of the creation of knowledge that is at once global and yet centered primarily on a particular place and time—eighteenth-century London.

Thus, printing the Pacific is a localized history of a global process, a globilocal sociology of texts[1] that results in the assimilation of a newly-encountered region into quotidian print practices and representations. Such a domestic history of Pacific exploration, with an especial focus on material culture, has never been told.

[1] The term sociology of texts is from D. F. Mckenzie, Bibliography and the Sociology of the Texts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).


Katherine Parker is a PhD candidate at the University of Pittsburgh. Her dissertation traces the production, dissemination, and reception of geographic knowledge about the Pacific region prior to the voyages of James Cook. In 2013-15 she studied in London archives as a Social Sciences Doctoral Dissertation Fellow (2013-4) and as an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow (2014-5). Currently, she is serving as the John R. Bockstoce Fellow in Pacific Ocean Studies at the John Carter Brown Library in Providence, Rhode Island.


Title page of the Royal First Edition of Anson's 'Voyage around the World'. Courtesy Mr. Colin Paul
Title page of the Royal First Edition of Anson’s ‘Voyage around the World’.
Courtesy Mr. Colin Paul

@HakluytSociety – Become a member at www.hakluyt.com