My extraction from the original ship's logbook


This 'extraction' was originally typed into a spreadsheet [big mistake!] with four columns: DATE; LATITUDE / LONGITUDE; BEARINGS & DISTANCES AT NOON; and GENERAL REMARKS, etc.”.  The latter section is where the daily weather observations, names of other ships sighted or spoken, boarded etc. are recorded, as well as the daily activites of the crew, is detailed.  Punctuation has generally been added to aid understanding for the modern reader (who may have little or no knowledge of nautical terms, let alone the abbreviated “log-speak” – sort of like texting! – which is littered throughout the original).  Spelling has generally been corrected in cases where words may be misleading; however, some authentic spellings and the old-fashioned (unrequired) captitalisation of certain nouns has been preserved.  The more ‘exciting’ (in my opinion – a subjective thing!) events/entries shown in original log have been highlighted in bold text.  Words added by me the transcriber are usually inside [square brackets].

            The only omissions from the “General Remarks” section of the original are relatively dull watch-by-watch weather summaries, details of routine sail-handling operations and the complete details surrounding punishments (i.e. floggings).  In the latter case, I have simply stated the number of men flogged on a given day; the complete data regarding floggings are listed and analysed in greater detail elsewhere on this website.  Usually, I have input a comment of “nothing remarkable” or “uneventful” etc. for ‘boring’ days; there were nonetheless readable entries in the original and leaving this out is a subjective decision. Deliberately omitted words (usually weather observations) are indicated by “…”in the transcript. Likewise, the initials of the officer-of-the-watch signing off the log (which was doubtless written by a clerk, due to the consistency of handwriting) have not been transcribed.

No doubt in a work of this size, which has never been proof-read by anyone other than me(!), transcription errors and omissions will remain!  

N.B. Coordinates are never given in the logs when the ship is anchored/moored (nearly always while in the vicinity of land); presumably because the charts of the time allowed easy reckoning to a known landfall.  I have recorded the ship’s bearings on a daily basis.  Oddly, longitude is often not observed (or at least recorded) in the log for prolonged periods throughout the commission, even when the ship was actually sailing at sea (probably because they were generally cruising fairly near to the coastline).  This is either because they did not have an (accurate) chronometer on board, or more likely they felt the ability to measure their position based on the nearest landmark was a sufficient or even more reliable method.  

By 1806, the Admiralty issued orders to officers to adjust their log-keeping to match the normal calendar (or “solar”) day, rather than starting the day at noon, as had been the Navy's former practice until October 1805.  Hence, all days recorded in this extract begin at 00:00 hrs [midnight], not 12:00 [noon] – time as we land-lubbers know it!


Extracted version of original log-books of HMS Magnificent, 1806-1815

“THE LOG, or Proceedings, of His Majesty's Ship Magnificent [74 guns, 3rd rate ship-of-the-line; complement: 590 crewmen]  George Eyre, Esqr,Captain – commencing Sept[ember] 30th 1806… [until paid off, August 8th 1815]”


Tuesday 30th September 1806 – [Moored at Woolwich]

A.M. At 6, Moderate breezes & fine weather. Riggers employ'd getting the lower & top mast rigging on board. At 11, Lieut. [William] Holman Commissioned the Ship. Employed getting in the lower masts. Joined the ship, Mr. [James] Reeves as Master & Lieut. [James] Emerton. Received from the Dock Yard, three Setting Fidds, 3 serving Malletts, 3 Commanders & twelve Iron bound Bucketts. Join'd the ship fifty Greenwich Pensioners; seventeen men from the Royal Charltote [sic - Charlotte] Yatch [sic: Yacht]; four men from the Mary Yatch [sic]; thirty-seven men from the Royal Sovereign Yatch [sic]; and twenty men from the Princess Augusta Yatch [sic] – all as Supernumerarys [sic].


Wednesday 1st October 1806 – [Moored at Woolwich]

[A.M.] Moderate & fine weather. Received forty-eight men from H.M. Ship Surveillante to be born[e] as part of our Complement. Employed getting the tops over the mast-heads & at sundry duty in the rigging. Received 200 hammocks. Received one Captain, three Lieut's, three Serg'ts, two Corp'ls, two Drummers & eighty-nine Privat[e] Marines [100 in total] from the Fourth Division of Marines at Woolwich. Riggers employed turning in the lower rigging. Received from the Dock-Yard, twenty-six iron Shovels & twenty-four Scrapers.


Thursday 2nd October 1806 – His Majesty's Ship Magnificent at Woolwich

Fresh breezes & cloudy weather. A.M. Employed in stowing Iron Ballast. Rec'd 19 Bags of Bread, 2 Tines(?) of Beef, 3 Barrels of Pork, 2 Bar'ls of Flour, 1 Keg of Suet, 1 Barrel of Raisins, 2 Firkins of Butter, 1 Barrel of Sugar, 2 half Hogsheads of Cheese, 2 Hhds Pease & 1 Hhd of Oatmeal. P.M. Rec'd from the Dock Yard two Canvas Hosses [sic: hawsers?], three Lantherns [i.e. lanterns] four Marline Spikes, one Blue Ensign, one Union Jack, four scrubbing brushes, Bilbo Bolt with eight shackles & two l(?)ocks, six handspikes & eight Ballast Baskets. Riggers employed occasionally. Rec'd 4 Hhds of Wine.


Friday 3rd October 1806 – ditto at Woolwich

Moderate & hazy weather. A.M. At 6, ditto weather with rain. Employed getting the spare main & fore topmast, rigging the Bowsprit & fitting the Bob Stays. Rec'd 2 Iron Crows for Sea Store, also Sundry present use Stores. P.M. Moderate & hazy weather. Came alongside a Lighter with Iron Ballast, employed clearing ditto and stowing Iron Ballast in the main hold. Struck the spare topmasts & the working masts. Fidded the mizen topmasts. Riggers variously employed.   


Saturday 4th October 1806 – at Woolwich

Moderate & hazy weather. A.M. Employed receiving & stowing away Iron Ballast. Riggers employed rigging the Fore & Main topmasts. Received 689 lbs of fresh Beef. Swayed up & fidded the Fore & Main topmasts. Received one Coil, 2 Junk(??) Rope (as sea Store), also eighty Leagers, 20 Butts & 12 Puncheons for the Ground Tier Cask. [P.M.] Riggers from the Yard Gammoning the Bowsprit.  At 8, came alongside a Lighter with ninety-five tons of Shingle Ballast. At 12, Moderate breezes & fine weather.


Sunday 5th October 1806 – at Woolwich

A.M. Moderate breezes & fine weather. At 10, Received a draft of men & petty officers [& boys] from HM Ship La Loire (134 in number) [Editor: including my ancestor, Michael SPINKS – or SPHYNX, according to the ship's books! – who was still rated 3rd Class Boy]. Employed scraping the lower deck. At noon, moderate & fine. P.M. “No duty done this afternoon.” At midnight, moderate [breezes] & clear weather.


Monday 6th October 1806 –  at Woolwich

A.M. Employed clearing the lighter. Thirty convicts came to assist in getting in the shingle ballast. Received on board six bower cables. Employed stowing the ground tier casks. Rec'd 645 lb fresh beef. P.M. Cleared the lighter of 95 tons of shingle ballast. Employed coiling the cables on the orlope [sic] deck & at sundry necessary duty in the rigging.


Tuesday 7th October 1806 – at Woolwich

A.M. Employed stowing the ground tier casks(?), staying the masts & setting the fore rigging up. A party of men employed at the Dockyard drawing present use stores. P.M. Employed in setting the main & mizen rigging up. Rigged & swayed up the top gallant masts, crossed the cross jack & mizen topsail yards. Labourers from the Dockyard employed whitewashing the fore & main hold.

Wednesday 8th October 1806 – at Woolwich

A.M. [Michael Spinks/Sphynx this day promoted to Boy, 2nd Class!]. At 6, sent a party of men to the Dockyard on duty. Also a party of men to the gun wharf. People variously employed in the rigging. Received from the Dockyard two eight inch cables(?) & one messenger. Got the lower yards alongside. At noon, Moderate breezes from the SE. P.M. Employed making matts and at sundry necessary duty in the rigging. Joined [the ship] from HMS Ardent[1], four petty officers, 1 [sea]man & two boys, per order of Admiral Montagu. Received from the Yard, one five inch; one 5 ½ inch; one four inch cable(??). Also one hundred hammocks and 1700 [illegible] of junk. Rigged & crossed the sprite [sprit?]-sail & fore-topsail yards. Got the main yard on board. Received 800lb of fresh beef. Discharged 15 petty officers and men into HMS Volontaire, per Admiral(ty?) order.


Thursday 9th October 1806 – at Woolwich

A.M. At 6, sent a party of men to the Dockyard on duty. Got the fore yard on board. Employed in rigging the fore and main yards and filling the ground tier casks & scraping(?) the decks. Received four half anchor stocks from the Yard. Also sundry carpenters sea store(s). P.M. Received large amounts of various provisions [list here omitted]. People returned from duty at the Dockyard. Swayed up the lower yards. At 10, fell overboard & was drowned William Chamberlaine (Private Marine).


Friday 10th October 1806 – at Woolwich

A.M. At 6, sent a party of men on duty to the Dockyard. [illegible] the bending sails. Employed setting up the bobstays. Setting up the lower masts and set the lower rigging up. Swayed the gaff up. Rec'd 364 lb of fresh beef. At Noon, people returned from the Dockyard to dine. P.M. Received from the Yard a complete set of sails. Bent the topsails jib & staysails. A party of men filling/fitting Gunner's stores.

Saturday 11th October 1806 – at Woolwich

A.M. Received quantity of empty water leagers & casks to complete the ground tier. Also 730 lbs fresh beef. Employed stowing ditto in the after hold, and on sundry duty in the rigging. P.M. Employed getting sundry present use stores on board. Filling the ground tier & scraping the inside paint work, and at sundry duty in the rigging. 

Sunday 12th October 1806 – at Woolwich

A.M. Received 880 lbs of fresh beef. Bent the foresail & up topgallant yards. Employed scraping the decks and stowing the booms(?). P.M. Employed as above. Received 48 supernumeraries from HM Ship Echo. Discharged per Admiral Stanope's [sic: Stanhope's] order, fifty Greenwich Pensioners. Fitted the messenger. At sunset, down topgallant yards.

Monday 13th October 1806 – at Woolwich

A.M. At 8, up topgallant yards. Employed scraping the lower deck & stowing the bower anchors, and at sundry necessary duty in the ship. P.M. Employed in transporting shifting ballast(?) forward & sundry provisions to trim the ship. Fitted the mizen staysail stay. Employed scraping the topmasts & stuning(?) [studding??] sail booms. Artificers variously employed on board.


Tuesday 14th October 1806 – at Woolwich

A.M. At 8, employed making Matts for the topsail yards & at sundry necessary duty in the rigging. Received 771 lb fsh beef. Note: Sent on shore one(?) fore quarter of beef to the Contractor, it being of very inferior quality. At noon, light breezes & cloudy weather. Trimmed ship on an even keel. [Draft/draught] Fore & aft, 19ft 3in. P.M. Employed in the rigging. Received two yard arm pieces and two brass Compasses. Bent the sturring/stuning [studding?] sails. At sunset, sent down topgallant yards.


Wednesday 15th October 1806 – at Woolwich

A.M. At 6, employed clearing/cleaning the ship and getting all ready to go down the River. Received forty empty butts for the middle tier of [illegible] hold. Returned per(?) said conveyance cask 29 puncheons, 4 hogsheads. Up topgallant yards. At 8, made the signal for a Pilot. At 10, ranged the bower cables. Got a Pilot on board. [P.M.] Coiled down the range of the cables. Employed working up junk to sundry uses and stowing the middle [tier] of casks in the main hold. At sunset, down topgallant yards.


Thursday 16th October 1806 – at Woolwich

A.M. At daylight, employed scraping the main deck & paint work. At 8, up topgallant yards. Set up the bobstays and fitted the fore staysails(?). Employed setting up the fore & fore-topmast rigging & at sundry duty in the rigging.. P.M. Received 678 lb of fresh beef. Also 30 puncheons beer. Unbent the jib & stay sails & set the mizen rigging up.


Friday 17th October 1806 – at Woolwich

A.M. At 6, sent a party of men to the Gun Wharf on duty, also a party to the Dockyard on duty. At 8, stayed the main mast & set the main rigging up. At noon, men returned from the Gun Wharf & Dockyard duty. P.M. Employed occasionally. Unbent the squair [square] sails. Employed blacking the yards & at sundry necessary duty. Arrived HM Sloop Cerf. People at the [illegible]...


Saturday 18th October 1806 – at Woolwich

A.M. Employed blacking yards & working up junk. Painted the lower masts & bowsprit. Received 598lb of fresh beef.  Returned one quarter of beef to the Contractor, it being unfit for use & of mean quality. P.M. Received 67 men from HM Sloop Cerf. Discharged 74 of the yatch [sic: yacht] men into the Cerf sloop. Sailed ditto for Deptford. Employed as above. Sailmakers making boats covers.


Sunday 19th October 1806 – at Woolwich

A.M. At 8, employed occasionally. Mustered the ship's company. P.M. Employed occasionally.


Monday 20th October 1806 – at Woolwich

A.M. At 8, Employed fitting sails &c. Sailmakers making boat's covers. Received 1 man from the DeptfordTender. Received 541lb fresh beef. Also two water tanks from the Dockyard. P.M. Employ’d fitting Sails, Squaring and Caping(?) the lower rigging and at sundry other necessary duty in the Rigging.


Tuesday 21st October 1806 – at Woolwich

A.M. Employed working up junk & scraping decks. P.M. Employed making matts for the foot of the top sails(?). Carpenters variously employed making cleets(??).


Wednesday 22nd October 1806 – at Woolwich

A.M. At 7, sent a cutter with a Commissioned Officer into the Pool to recover a seaman's wages. Received 719lb fresh beef & 30 Puncheons(?) of Beer. P.M. Employed stowing the Hold & working up junk(?). Boat returned from duty in the Pool. Bent the topsails.


Thursday 23rd October 1806 – at Woolwich

A.M. At  8, employed bending the foresail, jib & stay sails, & getting already [sic] for the ship's going down the River. No pilot on board. Received 620lb fresh beef. P.M. People employed variously working up junk. At 4, Got a river Pilot on board. At 8, Received 1 man from HM Sloop Matilda.

[1] This was Captain Eyre’s former ship – so presumably, he hand-picked these men.


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Latest comments

11.04 | 15:38

Volunteeres from HCS Macqueen are here. My ancestor George Fox was a seaman on that Macqueen trip. I wonder if George was on any other voyages.

04.09 | 11:06

It is good to know about the services of MICHAEL SPINKS. I will let my brother know about these after my

17.08 | 10:43

Blackwall London is a district and good place to explore. I have been there before my and had good experience

23.02 | 20:25

Brilliant account; brilliantly researched.
They that go down to the sea in ships,
That do business in great waters;
He quiets the night and ebbs the tide... :