Category Archives: Blog

New Year, new project – travels through time

A happy new year to you all. The picture above shows our little two year-old rascal Thomas Moore watch the last of the old year whiz past out of the window from his perch on a Virgin train. Thank goodness that journey is over. 2018 was a magical year in many ways. Endeavour sailed bravely […]

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Endeavour discovered? Some thoughts on news from Narragansett Bay

Today’s news is filled with the latest development in the long-running search for Endeavour in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. It’s big news and my congratulations to everyone who’s been working on the project for so long. Before the announcement last week I was approached by several journalists for comment. Beneath, for anyone that’s interested, are […]

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Endeavour, Launch(es), John Sandoe and BBC History

Today marks a quarter of a millennium since HM Bark Endeavour left Plymouth to begin her voyage to the South Seas. Precisely 250 years ago (in an hour or two’s time) Joseph Banks set down the first of his many journal entries: 25 August 1768 After having waiting in this place ten days, the ship, […]

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Finished copies, Mary Soames Award, an audiobook and Michael Palin

There’s nothing like a book deadline to accelerate time. It hardly seems a moment since I set to work in the British Library in the summer of 2015; or I was paddling about Endeavour Cove in Queen Charlotte’s Sound a few months later; or standing on the foreshore of the Tūranganui River on New Zealand’s […]

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Historical Miscellany #42 – A suggestion for a female administration (1766)

Women in (Georgian) politics A hundred years after women won the right to vote in Britain, here’s a related snippet from a few centuries earlier. In the mid-1760s the public were exasperated by their politicians. The Treaty of Paris (1763) that brought an end to the Seven Years’ War had left Britain in a seemingly […]

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Oddingley – John Barnett’s Pigeon House?

A brief post about an old book. It is the best part of a decade since I was writing about the misdeeds of the Oddingley farmers in the summer of 1806. But recently that murderous tale was brought back to mind when I chanced upon the above picture of a half-timbered ‘pigeon house’. This building […]

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Endeavour: a new book

I have been quiet on here for some time but I have not been idle. I am just putting the finishing touches to a new book, Endeavour: the Ship and the Attitude that Changed the World. It is going to be published by Chatto in the UK on 23 August and in the US shortly […]

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Historical Miscellany #41 – A Sea Monster discovered in Porthleven, Cornwall (1786)

(As reported in the Hereford Journal, Thursday 12 October 1786 – Illustration from The Monsters of the Deep, 1875) A description of Sea Monster found in Cornwall The following comes authenticated from a Gentleman of Morillian in Cornwall. A JUST and particular description of a very curious and most surprising sea monster driven on shore […]

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Historical Miscellany #40 – Snowball the Greyhound [1829]

I was cheered to find out last week that “the best greyhound there ever was”, according to Bell’s Life in London, was called Snowball and came from the pretty village of Wold Newton in the east riding of Yorkshire. This is just a few wolds away from where my mother grew up and I was […]

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Historical Miscellany #39 – Damn’d Eyes [1766]

Image: A field in Worcestershire From Adams Weekly Courant, 25 March 1766, taken from The Gloucester Journal “We have an account of a very extraordinary instance of Divine vengeance that happened about a week ago at Chalford in this county. One Richard Parsons, a young man of that place, was playing at cards, and he […]

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