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Book Review, NRJ 63.2

May 15, 2018 12:00 PM | David Eddy (Administrator)

Hornblower’s Historical Shipmates: The Young Gentlemen of Pellew’s Indefatigable

Heather Noel-Smith & Lorna M. Campbell

In Heather Noel- Smith and Lorna Campbell’s work Hornblower’s Historical Shipmates: The Young Gentlemen of Pellew’s Indefatigable the reader is presented with a detailed history of Captain Sir Edward Pellew’s rise through the ranks. The authors also provide brief, but detailed, summaries of seventeen of Pellew’s midshipmen who worked under him during his successful career. The authors take great care to present their audience with personable and accurate descriptions of the crew members. They depict both Pellew and his shipmates in such a way that the reader feels like they know the men and are also familiar with the culture and atmosphere of the ship at large. This is a credit to the comprehensive research and writing style of the authors.

The authors’ extensive research is clear from the first page. Their in-depth use of both primary and secondary sources gives the reader a clear picture of life, across ranks, in the British Royal Navy in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Noel- Smith and Campbell include excerpts from some of Pellew’s personal correspondence throughout his life-time including his time in the Navy, passages from his journals and naval documents attached to Captain Sir Edward Pellew during his time in the service.

The book presents a well-balanced and comprehensive study of Edward Pellew, not omitting the less savory aspects of his character, nor over embellishing his accomplishments. For example, the authors acknowledge how Pellew and his wife Susan Frowd Pellew went above and beyond supporting emotionally, physically and sometimes even financially, many different young men from all different stations of life. At the same time, they show how Pellew put the agenda of his sons, Pownoll and Fleetwood, ahead of the good of those serving the British Royal Navy under Pownoll and Fleetwood when he promoted both of them into positions for which they were not the best candidate. In the first chapter, they claim that Pellew is both a “partisan and patriarch” and do a brilliant job showing how these two rivaling terms describe the complex man and exceptional frigate Captain Sir Edward Pellew.

Hornblowers Historical Shipmates: The Young Gentlemen of Pellew’s Indefatigable takes the reader on a unique journey where they meet not only high-ranking officials of the famous Her Majesty’s Royal Navy, but also gain access to the daily routine of the nineteenth century mid shipmen. The reader will walk away with a comprehensive view of the sailor’s devotion to their nation and their strong ties to their crew and leaders. Pellew is shown to be a flawed man, but also a relatable human being in that he was a man who felt it was his duty not only to protect his crew, but also to help them develop into mature and reliable young men who would represent their crew, family and nation. The reader is able to see how Pellew’s humble beginning and early tragedies helped him to develop into a leader who was respected and loved by his crew.

  •  Woodbridge, Sussex: The Boydell Press, 2016
  • 6-1/2” x 9-1/2”, hardcover, xii + 248 pages
  • Illustrations, appendix, notes, bibliography, index. $34.95
  • ISBN: 9781783270996

Reviewed by Jane H. Plummer, University of West Florida

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