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CUNNINGHAM, Sir Charles, Admiral.

A Narrative of Occurrences that took Place during the Mutiny at the Nore,

in the Months of May and June, 1797; with a Few Observations upon the Impressment of Seamen, and the Advantages of those who are employed in His Majesty's Navy; also on the Necessity and Useful Operations of the Articles of War.

Published: Chatham: William Burrill, 1829

Stock code: 87938

Price: £1,750

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First and only edition, “a few Copies only … printed for particular friends of the Author” (note to errata slip), uncommon, with COPAC showing just 4 copies – BL, NMM, Oxford, and Manchester – this copy inscribed on the title page; “Captain Worth R.N. with the Author’s best regards”. Significant account of the Mutiny at the Nore, which was essentially a strike protesting against low wages and poor conditions, but which was perceived to be taking on wider political dimensions under the leadership of Richard Parker. Admiral Cunningham initially went to sea in the merchant service, but in 1775 transferred to the frigate, Aeolus, and was with her in the West Indies the following year where he transferred to the Bristol under Sir Peter Parker. In 1779, continuing on the West India station, he was for a short time first lieutenant for Capt. Horatio Nelson in the Hinchinbrooke, and around 1782 was put in command of the brig Admiral Barrington, returning to Britain when she was paid off in 1783. Service in the East Indies under William Cornwallis followed in 1788, and in 1790 Cornwallis put Cunningham in command of the sloop Oriel. “On the declaration of war with France in February 1793 Cunningham, then in command of the brig Speedy, went out to the Mediterranean with dispatches; he remained attached to the Mediterranean Fleet and on 12 October, having assisted in the capture of the frigates Modeste and Impérieuse, was made post into the latter, renamed the Unité. He exchanged into the Lowestoft in April 1794 and in the summer assisted at the siege of Calvi, a service for which he, together with the other frigate captains, was specially mentioned in Lord Hood’s dispatch, which he carried home overland …” (ODNB) Appointed to the Clyde in 1796 he was refitting in the Nore when the Mutiny broke out. Cunningham was a popular captain and was “not absolutely dispossessed of the command, and succeeded, after seventeen days, in bringing his men back to their duty. During the night of 29 May the Clyde slipped her cables, and before morning was safe in Sheerness harbour. Her defection was the signal to many other ships to do likewise, and within a week the fleet had returned to its allegiance”. Parker and twenty-nine of the leaders of the unrest were hanged. The Clyde served commendably in the years that followed and in 1803 Cunningham was nominated Commissioner of the Victualling Board, a shore appointments suitably rewarding a relatively elderly captain – he was then forty-eight – who could not expect a flag appointment. He was subsequently appointed Commissioner of the Dockyards at Deptford and Woolwich in 1806, a post he held until 1823, when he became Superintendent of the Dockyard at Chatham; he retired in 1829. “After a late entry into the service, and lacking any powerful interest, Cunningham had secured his promotion through professional skill, zeal, and initiative. The connection with Nelson and William Cornwallis is striking, as was his conduct during the Nore mutiny. Ashore he was efficient and a credit to his profession; a fine officer in all respects.” The recipient is most likely Capt. James Andrew Worth who saw significant action during the French wars, on board the Helena sloop on the Ireland station, and commanding the Bulwark and the Venerable, both 74s, on the North Sea, Channel, and West India Stations. Later ownership inscription of Admiral Baldwin Wake Walker to the front pastedown, Walker was Surveyor, later comptroller, of the Navy 1848-61; subsequently Commander-in-Chief Cape of Good Hope and West Africa Station 1861-4; and Commander-in-Chief, The Nore, 1866-9. An excellently provenanced copy of this uncommon and important first-hand account of the Mutiny of 1797.

Octavo. Original drab boards, printed label to the spine. Half-title bound in, errata slip follows the Introduction. A little rubbed and soiled, spine chipped head and tail, joints splitting but sound, light foxing to the prelims, a very good copy in unrestored contemporary condition.

Bibliography: NMM, V, 1690

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