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Introduction, analysis and interpretation

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Never had British seamen more Reasonable demands nor a favourable Opertunity of rendering themselves a Respectable Body of men then the preasent but if they are Deverted or amused by false alarms or fair but vain Speaches or Promises from their preasent Glorious and Rightious Resolution of doing themselves Justice after haveing so long fought for the Intrest of Others – neglecting their own, Dreadfull is the Consequence. the Success is shure. The naval mutinies of 1797 were unprecedented in scale and impressive in their level of organisation. Crews on board a majority of ships of the Royal Navy's fleet in home waters, while invasion threatened, after making clear demands, refused to sail until their demands were met. It was an all-encompassing event that affected the crews of over one hundred ships in at least five different anchorages. Furthermore these same actions were replicated elsewhere, with seamen in the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic and Indian Oceans following suit. This chapter describes the 1797 mutinies briefly and examines recent scholarship and interpretation to introduce themes that will recur throughout The Naval Mutinies of 1797. The title echoes Conrad Gill's comprehensive work, prosaic but unambiguous. The Spithead mutiny was initiated in February 1797 when seamen in the Channel Fleet moored at the Spithead anchorage in the Solent sent eleven anonymous petitions seeking a pay increase to Admiral Richard Howe, their nominal commander. Due to his failure to respond to their satisfaction, when the Channel Fleet returned to Portsmouth in March from blockading French ports, the seamen found that no action had been taken.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Naval Mutinies of 1797
Subtitle of host publicationUnity and Perseverance
EditorsAnn Veronica Coats, Philip MacDougall
PublisherBoydell and Brewer Ltd
Pages1-16
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781782040057
ISBN (Print)9781843836698
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2011

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