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‘Launched into eternity’: admiralty retribution or the restoration of discipline?

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The fatal morning is arrived – the signal of death already displayed – the assemblage of boats, manned and armed, surround the ship appointed for the execution. The crews of the respective ships are arranged on deck, to whom the commanding officer makes known the crime for which the culprit is condemned to suffer; and after hearing the articles of war distinctly read, they await with silent dread and expectation the awful moment. At length a gun is fired (the last signal to rouse attention), and at the same instant the unhappy victim is run up by the neck to the yard-arm – a dreadful spectacle, and an example to deter others from the commission of similar crimes. On 30 June 1797, Richard Parker, elected leader of the Nore mutiny, was launched into eternity from the yardarm of <italic>Sandwich</italic>, not only in a spirit of retribution, but also to achieve the restoration of discipline. Parker was the first scapegoat, and is reported to have uttered the customary words of a condemned man: ‘I acknowledge the justice of the sentence under which I suffer; and I hope my death may be considered a sufficient atonement, without involving the fate of others.’

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
Pages209-225
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781782040057
ISBN (Print)9781843836698
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2011

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