The Recollections of Commander James Anthony Gardner, 1775-1814

The editors began their introduction to this volume by remarking that it contains ‘very little history, as commonly understood’ -by which they meant the history of naval operations. Gardner’s Service career was undistinguished for reasons which can easily be inferred from his stories, but he was clearly a convivial shipmate, and as a raconteur of life afloat he can hardly have been equalled. This is easily the funniest volume the Society has ever issued.

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About Hamilton, Laughton

Richard Vesey Hamilton was born on 28 May 1829, the son of a vicar. He was educated at the Royal Naval School in Camberwell and joined the Royal Navy in July 1843. He twice volunteered to take part in missions to search for Franklyn’s ill-fated expedition to the North-West Passage. He saw action in the Second Opium War of 1857 and served both in the East and the West Indies. He was promoted to rear-admiral in 1877 serving at the Admiralty, and later as Commander-in-Chief China Station in 1885. As a full admiral he became Second Naval Lord in 1888 and First Naval Lord in 1889. He became President of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich in 1891, retiring from the Royal Navy in 1894 being awarded the GCB in 1895.

In retirement he wrote, and died at his home in Chalfont St. Giles on 17 September 1912.

His publications include

  • The Constitution, Character and Functions of the Board of Admiralty, and of the Civil Departments it Directs (G Bell, 1896).
  • Journals and Letters of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Thomas Byam Martin, 1733 – 1854 3 volumes (Navy Records Society, 1898, 1900, 1903).
  • The Recollections of James Anthony Gardner, Commander R.N. 1775 – 1814 (Navy Records Society, 1906).

John Laughton was born in Liverpool on 23 April 1830, son of a Master Mariner. He was educated at the Royal Institution School, Liverpool and Caius College, Cambridge, where he read mathematics and graduated as a wrangler in 1852. He entered the Royal Navy as an instructor, joining his first ship, Royal George, in 1853, serving in the Baltic during the Crimean War. In 1866 he went ashore to teach at the Royal Naval College at Portsmouth, moving with the College to Greenwich in 1873, becoming Head of the Department of Meteorology and Marine Surveying.

In the 1870s he turned more to teaching history, delivering a famous lecture to the R.U.S.I. in 1874 on the importance of actually analysing historical events, rather than merely reporting them chronologically. This new approach meant that he “acted as a catalyst for the entire intellectual development of naval history as an independent discipline” (Andrew Lambert). He was an undoubted influence on naval thinkers of the time: Alfred Thayer Mahan, Julian Corbett and Herbert Richmond. In 1885 he left the Royal Navy to accept the position of Professor of Modern History at King’s College, London, and succeeded in convincing the Admiralty to allow limited public access to their archives. With Admiral Cyprian Bridge he founded the Navy Records Society in 1893. He wrote more than 900 entries on naval personalities for the Dictionary of National Biography. He was knighted for his work in 1907, awarded the Chesney Gold Medal in 1910 and died on 14 September 1915.

His publications include

  • Physical Geography in its Relation to the Prevailing Winds and Currents (Potter, 1873).
  • Nelson (Macmillan, 1889).
  • Studies in Naval History (Longmans, 1896).
  • State Papers relating to the Spanish Armada, Volume I (Navy Records Society, 1894).
  • State Papers relating to the Spanish Armada, Volume II (Navy Records Society, 1894).
  • The Nelson Memorial: Nelson and his Companions in Arms (G Allen, 1896).
  • The Journals of Rear Admiral Bartholomew James, 1752-1828 (Navy Records Society, 1896).
  • From Howard to Nelson: Twelve Sailors (Heinemann, 1899).
  • The Naval Miscellany, Volume I (Navy Records Society, 1902).
  • Recollections of James Anthony Gardner, Commander R.N. 1775 – 1814 (Navy Records Society, 1906).
  • Letters and Papers of Lord Barham, 3 volumes (navy Records Society, 1907, 1910, 1912).
  • The Naval Miscellany, Volume II (Navy Records Society, 1912).

See also:

  • Andrew Lambert The Foundations of Naval History: John Knox Laughton, the Royal Navy and the Historical Profession (Chatham Publishing, 1998).
  • Andrew Lambert Laughton’s Legacy: Naval History at King’s College London (KCL 2002).
  • Andrew Lambert Letters and Papers of Professor John Knox Laughton, 1830-1915 (Navy Records Society, 2002).