The Byng Papers, Volume I

Vol 67 (1930), W.C.B. Tunstall

The full title of these three volumes is misleading. The project to publish the papers of Sir George Byng (1663-1733) and his fourth son John (1704-1757) was never completed. Brian Tunstall completed three volumes, but the latest document to appear in the third volume was only dated 1717.

An intended fourth volume of the papers, mentioned in volume 87 Pattee Byng’s Journal 1950, p. xix, never appeared. Pattee Byng was George Byng’s eldest son. Tunstall, however, had written a monograph published in 1928, entitled Admiral Byng, in which he reproduced some documents relating to the admiral and his court martial.

The letters and minutes in this volume were written between 1702 and 1707 during George Byng’s active commands in the War of Spanish Succession. Almost the whole of the volume relates to commands in the Western Mediterranean, punctuated by a period in 1705 in the Channel when Byng was mainly concerned with commerce protection. 1706 and 1707 saw Byng off Spain, serving under Sir Clowdisley Shovell in combined operations against Toulon in the summer of 1707.

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About Brian Tunstall

William Cuthbert Brian Tunstall (1900-70) served as lecturer in English at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, and from 1932 to 1937 as the fourth secretary of the Navy Records Society. During World War II, he served as naval correspondent for the BBC’s European services. Subsequently, he lectured at the London School of Economics and at the Royal Military College of Canada. In addition to his distinguished work as a naval historian, Tunstall was a rowing coach of some distinction. A member of one of his crews recalled that ‘during breaks in his coaching [‘Tunny’] would regale us with stories about the signal flags used at the Battle of Trafalgar. A great coach, and a grand character.’

Publications include:

• Admiral Byng and the Loss of Minorca (1925)
• The Realities of Naval History (1936)
• Naval Warfare in the Age of Sail (posthumously, 1990, edited by Nicholas Tracy)