Two Recent Acquisitions: The Midshipman’s Library and the Wreck of the Unity

Henry Wright 1

Two recent acquisitions build on Yale’s holdings of early modern British naval and mercantile papers. Above, the inventory of Henry Wright, an early nineteenth century midshipman in the British navy. Wright’s family lived at Brewer’s Hall, Cheshire, their house neighboring the estate of the 12th earl of Derby, who became Wright’s patron. Having joined the navy in 1825, Wright was rated midshipman in 1826, serving in the Mediterranean and West Indies trade until becoming Captain of the schooner Skipjack in 1839. The archive spans the period 1824-1836, consisting primarily of Wright’s correspondence from 1824-1827 and including letters to his father and to his patrons, Lord and Lady Derby.

henry wright 2

Above and below, the list of books which Wright brought with him, including Paul and Virginia, the Vicar of Wakefield, the History of Rome, a Life of Nelson, grammars for Latin, Greek and English, an arithmetic, and Molyneux’s Use of globes.

henry wright 3

Below, photographs from another recent acquisition, the papers of the British cargo ship Unity on its ill-fated voyage to the West Indies in 1782. Below the account books for fitting the Unity, including the cost of insurance, alongside account lines such as the travel charges for apprentices from London to Portsmouth.

Unity 1

Captained by Samuel Hurry, the Unity sailed from Portsmouth for Barbados in April, 1782. Below, some of the ship’s papers, including papers on the ship’s convoy and documents relating to the ship’s salvage and trials after the Unity was stranded and plundered off the coast of Cornwall.

Unity 2

Unity 3
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These collections are currently being catalogued, but are open for research. Researchers are welcome to make use of the Beinecke collections, and can find further information on registering as a reader under “Planning your Research Visit” on the Beinecke web-site.

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