Title page of the item.

Recently we were able to acquire a curious looking pamphlet, which, according to many online library catalogues, seems to be only available at the University of Missouri in their Rare Book Collection. The pamphlet, printed in 1864, bears the title Letters from Nearchus : addressed to a retired officer of the commercial sea service. There is no further information available on the title page, therefore it is not known in which country and by whom it was published.

 

Some investigation shows that the American politician Henry Alexander Dearborn (1783-1851), author of many titles on navigation and naval architecture, frequently signed his articles with the pseudonym ‘Nearchus’.

However, having studied the booklet, we are now in the position to establish that the author of our pamphlet cannot be Dearborn. On page 3 our mysterious writer calls himself ‘elder brother of the Trinity Corporation who retired from active service’.

The Corporation of Trinity House of Deptford Strond, known as Trinity House, came into being in 1514 by Royal Charter granted by Henry VIII. Their main concerns ever since have been the safety of shipping and the well being of seafarers. The Corporation's headquarters, along with several almshouses, were established at Trinity Hall near St Nicholas' Church, Deptford.

The oldest known view of the church.

The eight letters chiefly discuss ways of improving condition and status of sailors and officers. Nearchus additionally worries about the effect of abusive language of officers towards ordinary seamen and bitterly upset about changes of discipline.

These letters explore the relationship between the Royal Navy and its people, representing identities of both. If you wish to find out more about welfare of British seamen or the Corporation of Trinity House of Deptford, search our online Library catalogue www.rmg.co.uk/librarycatalogue .

Letters from Nearchus : addressed to a retired officer of the commercial sea service [by Nearchus]. (London? : s.n., 1864.) – Library Reference: PBH5720

Gregory
Librarian, Acquisitions and Cataloguing