Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Captain George Cannon

I lived for two years in the midlands of England while serving in the England Birmingham Mission of the LDS Church. Before leaving for the U.S., I had the opportunity to travel with another missionary, Elder Felton, to the Isle of Man, an island in the North Irish Sea between England and Ireland, where my Cannon ancestors are from. Elder Felton also had ancestors from the Isle of Man. In preparation for the trip, my father sent me the Cannon Family Historical Treasury, which gives some detail on my Manx ancestors, including the particularly fascinating Captain George Cannon, who was the captain of a slave ship and who was later killed in a mutiny on his own ship in 1811. Captain Cannon lived in Peel, Isle of Man.

On August 11, 1978, Elder Felton and I were in Peel and visited Peel Castle. I told the caretaker that I was interested in a Manx flag and asked if he knew where I could get one. The caretaker said that he had just pulled down the Manx flag that had flown over Peel Castle for the last year and that I could have it. The flag was frayed at the end, the three legged symbol in the middle was coming undone and it was faded and had seagull droppings on it. It had real character. It has been a valued treasure ever since, now adorning a wall in a small room in our garage known affectionately as the "scout room," where I keep my camping equipment and similar items.
A close-up of the three-legged symbol of the Isle of Man.
Elder Felton and I also found Captain Cannon's home in Peel, located at #7 Michael Street. It was owned by a Felton and was an ironmonger's shop. This was kind of a fun connection for Elder Felton and I. We learned that Michael Street is "the" street in Peel.

A number of years ago I stumbled on the George Q. Cannon website (George Q. Cannon was the grandson of Captain Cannon) and found a copy of one of Captain Cannon's ship logbooks on the site, which gave some detail on two of Captain Cannon's slave voyages. The site also had a letter from Stephen Behrendt, an expert on the history of the slave trade, detailing some voyages of Captain Cannon. These resources were intriguing to me. I transcribed the logbook and began my own research on Captain Cannon and the slave trade.

In July 2006, Judy and I traveled to the Isle of Man and I got to visit Peel Castle for the second time. Below, Peel Castle as seen from the harbor in Peel. The castle sits on a prominent peninsula.
Judy at the castle with some "lower case c" Peel cannons.
Remnants of a church and turret.
The 2006 version of the Manx flag flies over the castle below, above the remains of the church.
Peel, as seen from the castle. On both trips, I stayed in the large brown buildings on the waterfront to the far left of the picture. In 1978, at the Creg Malin and in 2006 at the Fernleigh.
A different portion of the castle.

Judy and I also visited Captain Cannon's home on Michael Street. In the interim, from when I first visited Peel, the home was refurbished by a developer into separate condominiums. The street level was the U.S. equivalent of a thrift shop. We were able to go into the underground cellar which was full of clothes for sale, mostly. On the front of the building is a garish sign proclaiming "Captain Cannon's House."

A closer look at the sign. Michael Street is so narrow that it is difficult to get a good, straight on, photo of the building or sign.

I have learned a fair amount about the life of Captain Cannon. So far, I have been unable to find any particulars about the mutiny that took his life, or whether there really was a mutiny. In future posts I'll share some of the things I've learned about Captain Cannon and this fascinating time in history.

The following are the posts, so far, on Captain George Cannon:

Ship Rawlinson (May 1779 to March 1780), which also gives his parents, birth and siblings;

Peel Mathematical School (April 1781 to August 1783);

Ship James: (Two Voyages (1787 to 1789), which also has a general discussion of a seaman's duties, rank, wages, food, sleeping arrangments, personal items, leisure and sterotypes;

Ship Eliza - Liverpool to the Gold Coast, from March to May 1790, which discusses the Liverpool docks and Liverpool's role in the slave trade, looking at slavery through a historical lense, equality of Europeans and Africans in trade negotiations, the duties and wages of 1st and 2nd mates, surgeons and boatswains, and an overview of the Gold Coast of Africa.
George Cannon in Lisbon, notes that the Ship Eliza docked in Lisbon in the spring of 1790 after leaving Liverpool on the way to the Gold Coast. It is a viewed through the lens of what George Cannon might have seen that can still be seen in modern Lisbon.

Ship Eliza - Fort St. Anthony in Axim, Ghana, a Dutch fort at the beginning of the Gold Coast which provides perspective on how significant the slave trade was along the Gold Coast.

Ship Eliza - Elmina Castle in Ghana, the Dutch administrative headquarters for the slave trade on the Gold Coast for additional perspective on the Gold Coast slave trade.

Ship Eliza - Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, the British administrative headquarters for the slave trade on the Gold Coast. George Cannon spent significant time here over the course of three years, from 1790 to 1793, as a first mate, obtaining slaves and possibly even sleeping at the Castle.

Family Matters and the Ship Good Intent,  brother John on the Ship King Pepple, loan to George's parents, marriage to Leonora Callister, birth of son George and ship Good Intent in Angola and Grenada from July 1794 to July 1795.

Ship Helen, June 1796 to May 1797, to Angola, Barbados, Antigua and capture by French privateer, then re-capture by British warship. It also views the situation through the modern lens of what George Cannon may have seen on St. Kitts that can still be seen today.
George Cannon in St. Kitts, discusses the legal rules and practices of capturing ships as prizes and how those might have impacted the Ship Helen when it was captured by the French privateer and then re-captured by the British warship and taken to St. Kitts.

George Cannon compared to Hugh Crow;

Nautical Terms

Sails, Masts and Yards

Logbook of the Iris;

Transcription of the Iris Logbook:
     Part 1    (June 9, 1798 to July 6, 1798)
     Part 2    (July 7, 1798 to September 27, 1798)
     Part 3    (September 28, 1798 to October 19, 1798)
     Part 4    (October 20, 1798 to March 2, 1799)
     Part 5    (March 3, 1799 to March 24, 1799)
     Part 6    (March 25, 1799 to August 21, 1799)
     Part 7    (August 22, 1799 to September 19, 1799)
     Part 8    (June 19, 1800 to July 22, 1800)
     Part 9    (July 23, 1800 to November 24, 1800)
Voyage of the Ship Iris:
     Part 1    (May 12, 1798 to June 8, 1798)   
     Part 2    (June 9, 1798 to September 5, 1798)
     Part 3    (September 6, 1798 to October 6, 1798)
     Part 4    (October 7, 1798 to November 2, 1798)
     Part 5    (November 3, 1798 to November 9, 1798)
     Part 6    (November 10, 1798 to March 2, 1799)
     Part 7    (March 3, 1799 to April 9, 1799)
     Part 8    (April 12, 1799 to August 8, 1799)
     Part 9    (August 8, 1799 to June 19, 1800)
     Part 10  (July 12, 1800 to May 22, 1804)

Family Matters and the Ship Minerva, death of father Hugh Cannon, purchase of home in Peel, house of his parents in Peel, birth of 4th child John, Ship Minerva from September 1802 to August 1803, visiting Bonny and Nassau.

Later Years and Family Matters, birth of son John, Peel Company of Northern Manks Volunteers, public house owner, various births and deaths, and life after the death of Captain Cannon.

Death of Captain George Cannon: By Mutiny? 

Captain William Cannon: George's brother who died at sea in the shipwreck of the Leander;

Captain John Cannon: Is the Captain of the ship Henry George's brother?;

Redemption of a Slave Trader: Captain George Cannon and Edwin Q. Cannon, Jr.; and


  1. As a descendant of George Cannon through Ann Cannon, the sister of George Q., your travels, research, and photos are such a treasure and find for me. Thank you so much for sharing. This is truly a joy for me to read and learn more of my many greats-grandfather. Alethea

  2. As a descendant of George Cannon through David H. Cannon I would like to second Alethea's remarks. Thank you for your hard work and your sharing. An outstanding blog.

  3. I am also a descendant of George Cannon and feel so lucky to have found your site. My wife is taking me to the Isle of Man this year and we have struggled to find a list of Cannon sites to see. The book you refer to is nearly $300 on Amazon. Without taking too much trouble are there other sites you would recommend or are you aware of a source of information for Cannon family sites?

    Warmest regards

    1. Leonora Callister Cannon, Captain Cannon's wife, grew up very close to Michael Street. I've seen a picture of her home, but this was after my being there, so I don't have an exact location. I've also found property records for Capt. Cannon's parents' home, Hugh and Eleanor Cannon, but I've not been able to pinpoint it yet. Then there is Cooilshellaugh, near Kirk Michael, where the more distant Cannons are from. I've not been there. There used to be, if not still, a bed and breakfast on the site.

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    3. I think there are two holiday cottages there now.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this! I am a direct descent of George Q. Cannon. My father is the III. My 16 year old daughter was specifically searching online for information about Captain Cannon. What you have shared will certainly be treasured by myself , my children and surely future generations.

  5. I am a Cannon with my family based In CT but most of us now living in VT.. I'd love to know if I am a a descendant myself!

    1. I’m in VT and my 93 year old dad is a Manxman. We are related to the Canonns and my dad’s mother was May Cannell.

    2. I ran into the name Cannell quite a few times in my research. A great Manx name!

  6. Join Ancestry and work your way back in time. I just learned I have links with the Cannons I did the DNA test and got so many matches from America .A lot had had Cannon. Canell. Callister . Crawford. Quayle in their trees it just had to be true. Good Luck .

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  8. Bob, it's your cousin Cynthia. I'm sitting in the LA airport waiting for a connection that will take us to the UK today. We'll be spending the first part of our visit in the north of England, hopefully including the Isle of Man and Cannon territory. I don't know if you're keeping this blog current, but I appreciate the work you've done to learn more about the family.

  9. I’m a Cannon and early days of researching my family in the Isle of Man. Any recommendations would be great. My family were based in peel