This is a continuation of a series of blog posts on Captain George Cannon. The initial post contains a list of all posts on Captain Cannon.

__George Cannon attended from April 1781 to August 1783:__

At age 14, on April 4, 1781, George Cannon entered the Peel Mathematical School to train to be a sea captain, also known as a “master.” He attended the Mathematical School for two and a quarter years, until August 5, 1783. This training set George apart from most of his peers as he learned to write and do mathematical calculations.

Richard Wilson, master of the school when George attended, described the education given at the school as follows:

"For a Master of a Man of War or a Merchantman it is necessary he should learn the five rules of Arithmetic then Geometry and Plane Trigonometry. Afterwards it is usual to work the Tides then proceed to Plane Sailing, Oblique, Windward and Current Sailing (of these last Oblique Sailing is the most useful)....if requisite in Surveying Coasts and Harbours. Then follows Globular Sailing, including Mercator's Charts. After which it is necessary to learn how to find the variation of the Compass, by Amplitudes and Azimuths, how to correct the ship's course for variation and Seaway; how to find the Latitude and Longtitude . . .After which he will be able (in all cases) to keep a ship's reckoning."

A navigational exercises book from 1829, in private hands in the Isle of Man, explains “plane sailing” as follows:

“Plane sailing is the art of navigating a ship upon principles deduced from the notion of the earth being an extended plane and is no more than the application of plane trigonometry to the solution of the several variations or cases where the hypotenuse or longest side is always the rhumb that the ship sails upon. The perpendicular is the difference of latitude counted on the meridian and the base the departure which is either easting or westing from the meridian. The angle opposite the base is the course or angle that the ship makes with the meridian. The angle opposite the perpendicular is the complement of the course, which being taken together makes always eight points or rhumbs, which is 90 degrees. In constructing figures relating to a ship course let the upper part of the paper or what the figure is drawn upon always represent the north the lower part will be the south the right hand east and the left west. Draw the north and south line to represent the meridian of the place the ship sails from then if the ship’s course be southward mark the upper end of the line for the place sailed from but if the course is northward mark the lower end for that place. When the course is easterly describe the arc and lay off the course and departure on the right hand side of the meridian but when westerly on the left hand side…”

Although the above description was given 46 years after George graduated, the extent books on navigation changed very little during that period. [Frances Wilkins, 2,000 Manx Mariners: An Eighteenth Century Survey, p. 61 (Wyre Forest Press, Kidderminster: 2000)]

Establishment of the Peel Mathematical School:Establishment of the Peel Mathematical School:

The Peel Mathematical School was established in 1765 by the will of the Reverend James Moore who left the annual ground rent of some houses in Dublin, Ireland, for “the erection and endowment of a Mathematical School in the Isle of Man, in order to have ten poor scholars taught gratis forever in the different branches of that science. The site of the schoolhouse not to be further distant from St. John’s Chappell than Peel town.” James Moore’s brothers, George and Philip Moore, found the site for the school, had it built, nominated the student scholars who would attend it and appointed the masters. George Moore was a Douglas based merchant in the smuggling trade.

__Other Attendees:__

In 1784, a list of the 95 students who had attended the school in its 16 year existence, including what they were then doing, was prepared: 3 were captains of ships, 5 were first mates, although one was “now dead,” 3 were ship carpenters, George Cannon and 29 others were “at sea,” 7 were “at home,” apparently instead of “at sea,” and as evidence of the danger of a life at sea, 10 were listed as “dead.” 16 were then “at school” and 17 were listed in various occupations, including schoolmaster, teacher of mathematics, clerk to Clerk of the Rolls, surveyor of lands, shoemaker, cabinet maker, house carpenter, wright, blacksmith, whitesmith, merchant and fisherman.

Except as indicated, the information for this was obtained on-line at the Manx Notebook.

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