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Reproduced courtesy of Ray and Margaret Lawson

Journal of James Lawson, Royal Navy

Date: 1869 - 1878
Overall: 210 x 160 x 18 mm, 0.34 kg
Medium: Ink on paper, leather
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Ray & Margaret Lawson
Object Copyright: © Ray and Margaret Lawson
Classification:Books and journals
Object Name: Journal
Object No: 00033054

User Terms

    This is an informal journal of daily life on board ships of the Royal Navy of the mid-late 19th century. The book is a standard ruled book and does not feature charts, drawings or other details typical of an officer's official log. Whilst the details of daily service life are interesting, the significance of this journal lies in the first ship HMS COSSACK. This ship served on the Australia Station 1871-1873. Lawson was on the ship at this time.
    SignificanceThis handwritten journal offers an insight into five ships and two shore establishments of the Royal Navy between the years 1869-1878. Of particular relevance are the details relating to HMS COSSACK on the Australia Station.
    HistoryThis handwritten journal of 143 pages is contained within a hardcover book with marbled paper front and back and a leather spine. It was written by James Lawson and records details of life from the five ships in which he served: HMS COSSACK (1869-1873), HMS VOLAGE (1874-1875), HMS PYGMY (1875-1876), HMS MARTIN (1876-1878) and HMS EURYALUS (1878); and also the two shore establishments HMS EXCELLENT (1873) and Sheerness Barracks (1878).

    In succinct terms and a neat hand, Lawson records the daily routine aboard a Royal Navy ship including cleaning the ship, washing clothes, make and mend days, coaling duties in port, caulking, painting and holystoning, Divisions and Church services every Sunday, incoming and outgoing mail drops in port and with other ships, general quarter drills and exercises, scraping guns, target and under steam practice, visitors, and gun salutes. Out of the ordinary events are also mentioned such as the following,

    W.13th. Court Martial on the gunner for drunkenness, dismissed the service.
    T. 14th. Came aboard. Fleeted to privilege leave 2 days pay working watch
    F. 15th. Do. Do. S. 16th. Corporal discharged for thieving, and got another gunner Mr Wallace.
    F. 19th. Sighted a raft at daylight & picked it up 2 chests found on it and provisions but no lives
    10th Our Paymaster Mr. Metford drownd[sic] the same night in trying to swim off to the ship.
    S. 5th. Tom Peters crewman died. Buried him same evening.
    F. 15th. Good Friday. Mr Hood midshipman jumpd[sic] overboard that night. drunk. tried by court martial. dismissed the ship
    S. 31st. under steam and sail. French mail boat passed us bound for Mauritius. Made signal that France and Prussia had declared war.
    S. 25th. Christmas Day, not up to much. got drunk that night.
    3. P.M. Matuka Bay fine looking people the natives T. 9th. at anchor natives traded with yams and pigs for brass buttons and coppers. 9 of the natives brought from Sydney jumped overboard in the middle watch and swam ashore they belonged to Solomon Island.

    Upside down at the back of the book Lawson has written the words to a number of sailor songs and poems: Affection, The Sailors Farewell, The Queens Letter, Song of the Haymakers, The Soldiers Dream, The Flying Dutchman, The Village Born Beauty, Homeward Bound, A Gift from o'er the Sea, Will Watch, The Sea Boys Farewell, A Baby was Sleeping, The Picture on the Wall, Ring the Bell Watchman, The Stolen Child, The Sailor Boys Dream, Take Me Home, Rolling Home across the Sea.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Log of James Lawson of the British Royal Navy

    Web title: Journal of James Lawson, Royal Navy

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