You really are touching the past when you hold this rare and sought after 300 year old book in your hand. With a fascinating inscription to the beginning, written by a sailor on board a British naval ship in 1709, you really have to wonder what life on board was like on July 3rd 1709.

This ancient book is titled The Whole Duty of Man by Richard Allestree and was printed in 1707 by William Norton for E. and Robert Pawlet. The full title page reads; The whole duty of man laid down in a plain way for the use of the meanest reader divided into XVII chapters : One whereof being read every Lords day, the whole may be read over thrice in the year. Necessary for all families. With private devotions for several occasions. London. Printed by William Norton, for E. and R. Pawlet, at the sign of the Bible in Chancery-Lane, near Fleetstreet, 1707.

This early 18th century, Queen Anne period book features the most wonderful hand written inscriptions from 300 years ago. The front free end paper features the inscription of its original owner; the inscription reads ‘Mary Nicholls, July 26th 1708’.

Then there is a further inscription on a blank page reading

‘Joseph Boys his book given him by his sister Mary Nicholls April of eighth day 1709 written by himself July of 3rd 1709 on board ye Mary Galley, Man of war. His cousin Captain Michael Sansom Commander lying all at anchor off Dunkirk 1709. And this book I give to my son Richard Boys when he is able to read it and if please god he lives till ye 23 of November when he will be six years old.’
Michael Sansom was the captain of the 42 gun fifth rate Royal Navy frigate the HMS Mary Galley. The Mary Galley was ordered in 1707 and was first commissioned in 1708 with a crew of 190 men. Michael Sansom first served in The Royal Navy as Lieutenant in 1701, by 1704 he was a Commanding Officer and by 1707 he became a Captain. He first captained HMS Lyme and later HMS Mary Galley from 1708 – 1709. From 1709 – 1711 he captained HMS Bonaventure and finally he captained HMS Moor until his death on the 3rd of November 1711.

Captain Michael Sansom was involved in the famous Scilly naval disaster of 1707 whereby the British Fleet led by Rear Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell hit the rocks off the Isles of Scilly. The incident resulted in the loss of four warships of the Royal Navy on the 22nd of October 1707. Between 1,400 and 2,000 sailors lost their lives aboard the wrecked vessels, making the incident one of the worst maritime disasters in British naval history. Michael Sansom was captaining HMS Phoenix; the ship was heavily damaged by the rocks but fortunately survived.

Michael’s brothers were called John and Arnold Sansom. Arnold Sansom was the husband of the celebrated poet Martha Fowke, later Sansom.

The book has the most wonderful frontispiece and is complete with its original leather covers and spine.

Measuring: Width 3.75 inch (9.5 cm) by Depth 1.5 inch (4 cm). Height 6 3/8 inch (16 cm).

Condition: Historic damp staining to its pages commensurate with age and its sea faring ownership, a few of the pages have upturned corners. Front cover has become detached, rear cover loose.

Reference: Chapter 4, Point 22. In Sailors on the Rocks: Famous Royal Navy Shipwrecks by Peter C Smith.

This is an scarce copy of a sought after early 18th century book, the addition of the inscriptions from the Mary Galley makes this an important and desirable item for anyone with a passion for British history, specifically naval history.

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Trinity Antiques

Rare Early 18th Century Book, 1709 HMS Mary Galley Inscription, Richard Allestree Whole Duty Of Man


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