The Rodney Papers, Volume I, 1742-1763

Vol 148 (2005), Professor D. Syrett

George Brydges Rodney is one of the great British admirals of the Age of Sail. A participant, and in many instances a major player, in some of the great naval events of the 18th century, Rodney’s career as a navy officer spans three great naval conflicts of his time – the War of Austrian Succession, the Seven Years War, and the American War.

Rodney, even though a towering figure in the Royal Navy of the 18th century, has attracted comparatively little attention. Overbearing, avaricious and difficult, yet talented and ambitious, George Brydges Rodney has never attracted much sympathy or understanding. He was nevertheless an original thinker and one of the great admirals of the eighteenth century.

The contents of this volume, the first of three, document his career from 1742 until 1763 – his private and political life. His early years as a captain were spent in the severe conditions of the North Sea and in taking privateers in the western approaches. During the peace after 1748 he was Governor of Newfoundland and in the Seven Years’ War blockaded Le Havre before going, as a flag officer, to command in the Leeward Islands where he participated in the capture of Martinique. This volume also contains letters to his wife which indicate, against past opinion, that Rodney had a heart.


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About David Syrett

Born 8 January 1939 in White Plains, New York was the son of a well-known historian of the early American republic and editor of The Papers of Alexander Hamilton,. He graduated from Columbia University in 1961, completed his MA there in 1964 and moved to the University of London, where he completed his PhD in 1966 with a thesis on “Shipping and the American War of Independence”. He became Distinguished Professor of History at Queen’s College, City University of New York .

His principal areas of interest were eighteenth-century British naval history and the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II.

He died in New York on 18 October 2004, and his widow, Elena Frangakis-Syrett, has published some of his work posthumously.

His publications include

• Shipping and the American war, 1775-83: a study of British transport organisation (Athlone Press, 1970).
• The Siege and Capture of Havana, 1762 (Navy Records Society, 1970).
• The Royal Navy in American Waters, 1775-83 ( Scolar Press, 1989).
• The Commissioned Sea Officers of the Royal Navy, 1660-1815 (Navy Records Society, 1994).
• The Defeat of the German U-boat: the Battle of the Atlantic ( University of South Carolina Press, 1994).
• The Royal Navy in European Waters during the American Revolutionary War (University of South Carolina Press, 1998).
• The Battle of the Atlantic and Signals Intelligence: U-boat situations and trends, 1941-45 (Navy Records Society, 1998).
• The Battle of the Atlantic and Signals Intelligence: U-boat tracking papers, 1941-47 (Navy Records Society, 2002).
• The Rodney Papers, selections from the correspondence of Admiral Lord Rodney, Volume I (Navy Records Society, 2005).
• Admiral Lord Howe: A Biography (Spellmount, 2006).
• The Rodney Papers: selections from the correspondence of Admiral Lord Rodney, Volume II (Navy Records Society, 2007).
• Shipping and Military Power in the Seven Years War: The Sails of Victory (Liverpool University Press, 2007).