76
76

PROPERTY OF A DESCENDANT OF SIR PHILIP BOWES VERE BROKE

Broke, Philip, of the Shannon
A SMALL ARCHIVE OF PAPERS RELATING TO THE CAPTURE OF THE USS CHESAPEAKE BY HMS SHANNON DURING THE WAR OF 1812, INCLUDING DOCUMENTS CAPTURED FROM THE MORTALLY WOUNDED JAMES LAWRENCE, COMMANDER OF THE CHESAPEAKE, AMONG THEM THE COMMISSION HE HAD RECEIVED FROM PRESIDENT JAMES MADISON LESS THAN THREE MONTHS BEFORE THE BATTLE
Estimate
70,000100,000
JUMP TO LOT
76

PROPERTY OF A DESCENDANT OF SIR PHILIP BOWES VERE BROKE

Broke, Philip, of the Shannon
A SMALL ARCHIVE OF PAPERS RELATING TO THE CAPTURE OF THE USS CHESAPEAKE BY HMS SHANNON DURING THE WAR OF 1812, INCLUDING DOCUMENTS CAPTURED FROM THE MORTALLY WOUNDED JAMES LAWRENCE, COMMANDER OF THE CHESAPEAKE, AMONG THEM THE COMMISSION HE HAD RECEIVED FROM PRESIDENT JAMES MADISON LESS THAN THREE MONTHS BEFORE THE BATTLE
Estimate
70,000100,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Fine Books & Manuscripts, Including Americana

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New York

Broke, Philip, of the Shannon
A SMALL ARCHIVE OF PAPERS RELATING TO THE CAPTURE OF THE USS CHESAPEAKE BY HMS SHANNON DURING THE WAR OF 1812, INCLUDING DOCUMENTS CAPTURED FROM THE MORTALLY WOUNDED JAMES LAWRENCE, COMMANDER OF THE CHESAPEAKE, AMONG THEM THE COMMISSION HE HAD RECEIVED FROM PRESIDENT JAMES MADISON LESS THAN THREE MONTHS BEFORE THE BATTLE
(1) James Lawrence’s commission as Captain in the Navy in the service of the United States, 4  March 1813, accomplished in a clerical hand and signed by President James Madison, countersigned by Secretary of the Navy William Jones, on vellum (13 ½ x 17 in.; 344 x 432 mm), engraved martial and maritime vignettes at top and bottom, embossed paper seal of the Navy Department; seal defective, stained. — (2) Group of four “safe passages” for American merchant ships captured by the Shannon 1812–1813, all on vellum (each approx. 15 ½ x 10 ½ in.; 394 x 267 mm), and with engraved maritime vignettes at top, embossed paper seal of the United States, neat cancellation clipping at top, comprising: ship’s passport issued by the US for the Eliza Gracie of New York 12 May 1810, signed by James Madison and countersigned by Secretary of State Robert Smith; ship’s passport issued by the US for the Minerva of New York 11 April 1812, signed by James Madison, countersigned by Secretary of State Robert Smith; ship’s passport issued by the US for the Pomona of Philadelphia, 28 March 1812, signed by James Madison, countersigned by Secretary of State James Monroe;  ship’s passport issued by the US for the Indian Chief, 9 March 1812, signed by James Madison, countersigned by Secretary of State James Monroe. — (3) Registration for Minerva of New York, 25 February 1812. on vellum, with embossed seal (18 x 12 in.; 461 x 306 mm); worn and fragile. —  (4) Captain Philip Broke, autograph notebook listing gunners and other crew, including some observations on individual abilities, presumably relating to HMS Shannon, mostly in pen but with some additional pencil notes, approx. 75 pages, patterned paper wrappers (3 x 5 ½ in.; 77 x 140 mm). — (5) Manuscript booklet of observations on gunnery, possibly by Broke although not in his hand, approx. 70 pages of which 17 are text and diagrams, with index tabs, vellum wrappers, (4 ¼ x 5 ¾ in.; 108 x 147 mm). — (6) Manuscript booklet “Dimensions American Ships,” including the Chesapeake, President, Constitution, New York, Adams, and Enterprise, approx. 55 pages with very detailed description of dimensions of hulls, masts, sails, etc., annotated “found in Chesapeake” in pencil on front cover, paper wrappers (4 x 6 3/8 in.; 102 x 163 mm). — (7) Broke’s appointment to HMS Amelia as Lieutenant, 19 August, 1797, on vellum . — (8) Broke’s commission as Commander to HM Fireship Falcon, 2 January 1799. — (9) Broke’s appointment to HMS Poulette, 14 February 1801. — (10) Broke’s commission as Rear Admiral of Blue, 27 July 1830; items 7–10 all on vellum (approx. 11 x 13 in.; 278 x 300 mm). — (11) Page from a log-book headed “Astraea | Action off Western Isles”, detailing the action between the Astraea and the French frigate Etoile, probably kept by an officer on HMS Creole, 1 page, folio, 23 January 1814. — (12) Letter, "Information concerning Boston" by Broke, 1 page 20th March 1813 [incomplete, postscript only, retained copy in a scribal hand of a letter to Capt. Oliver of the Valiant] — (13) ”Appendix Comprising a Biographical Memoir of the Late Captain James Lawrence, engraved frontispiece and pp. 307–368 only removed from John M. Niles, The Life of Oliver Hazard Perry (Hartford, 1821), bound in plain wrappers with manuscript title "Life of Captain James Lawrence American Navy (7 1/4 x 4 3/8 in.; 184 x 109 mm).

Together 16 items. In addition to condition notes above, a number of items are lightly soiled or creased.  


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Literature

cf. Broke of the Shannon and the War of 1812, ed. Tom Voelcker (Naval Institute Press, 2013)

Catalogue Note

A cache of documentary relics from one of the most significant naval engagements of the War of 1812. Shortly after his promotion to captain, James Lawrence took command of the frigate Chesapeake. He left the port of Boston on 1 June 1813 and almost immediately engaged the Royal Navy frigate Shannon, commanded by Philip Broke, which was part of the British blockade of Boston Bay. Although the two vessels were the same rating, they were not of the same size of power. As was usual, the American ship was substantially bigger, had a larger crew, and carried a heavier battery: 24 pound long guns as opposed to the shorter British 18 pounders. Because of this disparity, the American Navy had been victorious is every single ship action of the War of 1812.

But Broke knew his crew and, more important, he was an expert on gunnery, as evidenced by the manuscript booklets that are part of this lot. Broke had even put up his own money as prizes during competitions of accuracy among his gun crews, and the Shannon’s training was evident. The Chesapeake was disabled, boarded, and captured within a quarter hour of the first shots being exchanged. American casualties were 56 dead and 85 wounded, including Captain Lawrence, who died of his wounds three days later while the Chesapeake was being taken to Halifax, Nova Scotia, by her British captors. Lawrence’s final command to his crew was “Don’t give up the ship,” a motto adopted by Oliver Hazard Perry for the battle flag he flew aboard the Lawrence, a ship named for his friend, during his successful engagements against the British on Lake Erie later that year.

Broke’s victory caused a sensation in Great Britain. He was severely wounded by a cutlass blow to his head while leading the boarding party and had to give up active service, but he continued to serve as a specialist and advisor on naval gunnery. For the capture of the Chesapeake, Broke was created a baronet, made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath, and awarded a Naval Gold Medal.

Fine Books & Manuscripts, Including Americana

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New York