Following our presentation about the Hon George Cadogan at this year’s New Researchers in Maritime History Conference, we were delighted to be approached by academic publishers Boydell and Brewer who expressed an interest in publishing our research. We’ve spent the last six months drawing up a proposal, which we’re pleased to announce has now been accepted by the publisher’s editorial committee. In honour of the Indefatigable‘s most famous fictional young gentleman the title of our book will be
Naval Careers in the Napoleonic Wars – Hornblower’s Real-Life Shipmates
The Lives of the Young Gentlemen of Pellew’s Indefatigable
Captain Sir Edward Pellew and the frigate HMS Indefatigable are well known to both naval historians and readers of naval adventure fiction; particularly the Hornblower series by C. S. Forester, who chose to place his eponymous antihero under Pellew’s command during his formative years as a midshipman.
This book investigates the lives of the 19 “young gentlemen” who were Hornblower’s historical shipmates in January 1797 when the Indefatigable and Amazon frigates took on the French ship of the line Droits de L’Homme in one of the most celebrated naval engagements of the French Revolutionary Wars.
This group presents a fascinating snapshot of the late 18th century sailing navy in microcosm. The great diversity of their backgrounds and naval career paths, together with their close relationship with their captain, illustrates that Pellew’s patronage extended far beyond his own sons and those of the wealthy and influential, and provides a counterbalance to those who have maintained that Pellew was held in no great affection by his men.
The lives of these young gentlemen have been brought to light through extensive research into naval records, personal papers, public and private archives in the UK, USA and France, many of which have been examined for the first time. As this generation of naval officers had to adapt to the transition to peace and civilian life at the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, this book also explores a wealth of genealogical material to present a rich and detailed account of these men’s diverse lives and later careers. This research also reveals a lifelong network of personal and professional relationships that the Indefatigable’s young gentlemen maintained with their shipmates and their former captain, which allows for a substantial reappraisal of aspects of Sir Edward Pellew’s legacy and reputation.
We now have two years to complete our research and write the book and during this time we’ll be posting snippets of our findings here on this blog.