16. Pub Crawl

The Marquis of Granby

A recent visit to the Marquis of Granby pub in Westminster inspired this week’s investigation into eponymous wrecks. It’s often said that more pubs are named after him than any other person. Certainly the name was popular enough to feature in the Pickwick Papers (1836-37).

The Marquis (1721-1770) was a commander and soldier’s soldier of the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) who is said to have set up many of his men as publicans after they left military service. The seven wrecks in English waters which bear his name are all clustered in the date range 1764-1784, and thus reveal a fashion in ship names reflecting his contemporary popularity as a national hero.

Judging by the 20 wrecks of ships named after the Duke of Wellington, though, I rather suspect that the Iron Duke eclipsed the Marquis in both ship and pub dedications (and there are three further wrecks named Iron Duke!) Normally, of course, when I run a database search for maritime archaeology,  it is not necessary to specify the monument type WRECK . . . however, in the instance of such names it is, otherwise results will bring back numerous pubs as well as shipwrecks! The same is true of names such as Golden Lion, Red Lion, and so on.

On a much more sober note, today’s wreck, named after the Marquis, though brief in detail, can be regarded as a “good thing”, frustrating an intended slaving voyage by being driven ashore on the coast of Cumbria. Her home port of Lancaster was the fourth-largest port engaged in the slave trade after Liverpool, Bristol and London. To be wrecked near Whitehaven, which lies north of Lancaster, while on a southbound voyage from the latter port, suggests that the vessel was driven off course, probably as a result of a winter storm in January 1767 – not a particularly unusual fate for ships leaving Lancastrian ports; though we can’t rule out an initial northbound call at Whitehaven, also involved in the slave trade.

Identification of this vessel as a slaver was made possible through a research project drawing on the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (TASTD), which has details of over 35,000 slaving voyages.  Conversely, I have been able to identify some shipwrecks as slave ships where either their final voyage was not included on the database or they were not previously identified as such. Research remains ongoing.

Elsewhere, Lancashire Museums have a published an online guide to local involvement in the slave trade. There is a good photograph and article on Kevin Dalton-Johnson’s Captured Africans memorial at Lancaster revealing a ‘deck’ structure, which names many of the ships involved.

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