Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Captain Cannon: Transcription of the Iris Logbook - Part 1

For background, read the post "Captain George Cannon: Logbook of the Iris." For an even bigger picture, read the prior 10 part series on the Voyage of the Ship Iris. 

I transcribed the Ship Iris logbook from a photocopy obtained by Hunter Cannon who runs the George Q. Cannon Family website. Much later, I got actual photos of each page from Ken Crook, another descendant of Captain Cannon and fellow Captain Cannon researcher, who I believe had the photo copies taken by people at the BYU Library so that the Library would have them as part of their archives. Ken actually did a wonderful visual plotting of the navigation information in the journal to show the voyage of the Iris that I hope he will share with others, if he hasn't already. Ken also did some of the original research that showed up in my 10 part series of the Voyage of the Ship Iris. Steve Behrendt, a world renowned historian on the slave trade, also had a transcription done, and he had the benefit of familiarity with the terminology and years of studying in the field. We had discussions of publishing in an academic journal, which did not pan out, then discussion of doing a website, which did not pan out, then discussion of doing a self-published book, which did not pan out. As time has passed, those connections have faded and my interest has waned. So a big part of this push to get this on my blog is to try to preserve the research, and who knows, the interest may heat up again. 

My transcription of the logbook follows. 

Sathurday 9th June [1798]:

First Part of this 24 Hours Light Breezeis and Clear. At 8 P.M. Skerry Light House[1] Bore S.S.E. Distd. one Lege [league][2] & Holy Head S.S.W. Distd. about 4 Lgs. - At 10 A.M. 5 vessels in Sight Standing to the N.E. At Meridian[3] was Spoke By a frigate 3 Ships and 2 Cottors [cutters] in Company -  Soposed [supposed] to Bee all Kings vessells[.] Latter Part of this 24 Hours Pleasent and Clear[.] 3 Ships in Company:---

Dist. 87           Course   S.28W.          Diff. Lat. 77                Dep. 44
Lat. in 52-2     Long. in 69                  Diff Long. 6-1

Sunday 10th Ju[ne 1798]:

Pleasent Breezeis and Clear undor Stearingsails &c: -–    Stett. and took in Sail a… – Latter Part of this Day … and Heavey:---    Lattd. Per Observation

Dist. 154         Course   S.26W.          Diff. Lat. 138              Dep. 67
Lat. in. 49..44    Long. in. 107             Diff. Long. 7..48

Monday [June] 11th. [1798]:

First Part of this 24 Hours Light Breezeis and Heavey undor Stering sails &:--    At 2 A.M. Sprung up a Breeze from the Northwd: People Employed in Sundryes Necessarys Carpindor [carpenter] Making Shot Lockers –- Gunnor [gunner] and Crew Making wads Cooppor [cooper] Making Deck Pails:---    Lattd. Per Observation

Dist. 106         Course   S.33W.          Diff. Lat. 89                Dep. 58
Lat. in 48..15   Long. in 14                  Diff Long. 89

Tuesday [June 12, 1798]:

Pleasent Breezeis and Clear weather:-- At 11 P.M. In top Gall. Stearing sails: ---    At 6 A.M. Sett Ditto. – Latter Part of this 24 Hours Steaddy Breezeis and Cloudy weather    Lattd. Per Obd. 46..36 No.

Dist. 143         Course   S.44W           Diff Lat. 103               Dep. 99
Lat. in. 46..36    Long. in. 11..42         Diff. Long. 145

Wedinsday [June 13, 17]98:

Pleasent Breezeis and Cloudy weather Maintop Maststearing sails. & M. T. Gallansail – At 3 P.M. Sett T. G. Stearingsails &:--   At 8 A.M. Sett Lowes Ditto. :-    Lattd. Per Observation  44..31 No.

Dist. 174         Course   S.44W.          Diff. Lat. 125              Dep. 121
Lat. in 44..31     Long. in 174              Diff Long. 14..36

Thursday June 14 [1798]:

Fresh Breezeis and Cloudy W. At 11 P.M. in Main topmast. Stearing sails the Ship is in company Some Distd. astaren:--    No Observation:---

Dist. 182         Course   S.34W.          Diff Lat. 151               Dep. 102
Lat. in. 42..00    Long. in. 139             Diff. Long. 16..55

Friday [June] 15th [1]798:

Pleasent Breezeis and Cloudy Weather:-- Undor Stearingsails &c. At 11 P.M. Saw a Brigg to the: N.Wd. Bound to the Northward:--     Lattd. Obsd. 39..43 No.

Dist. 143         Course   S.16W.          Diff. Lat. 137  Dep. 39
Lat. in. 39..43    Long. in 17..53          Diff Long. 58

Sathurday June 16 [1798]:

Gentle Breezeis and Cloudy weather undor S Gallan sails and Stay sails. At ½ Past 5 P.M. – Hove too for the Martha      Ships Head to the Westard --     Lattd. Obsd. 37..14 North

Dist. 155         Course   S.18W.          Diff Lat. 149               Dep. 48           
Lat. in. 37..14     Long. in. 19..08        Diff. Long. 75

Sunday [June] 17th. [1798]:

First Part Steaddy Breezeis and Clear weather:-- Undor Stay sails royals &:-- At 5 A.M Hove too Head to the N.W. for the Martha to Come up: --     Lattd. Obsd. 35..19 No.

Dist. 120         Course   S.18W.          Diff. Lat. 115              Dep. 37
Lat. in 35..19     Long. in 19..54          Diff Long. 46

Monday Ju[ne] 18 [1798]:

Light Breezeis and Clear undor T. Gallanstearing sa[ils] – At 11 P.M. In Small Sails Squally with rain. Wind Drawing round to the N.Erd:-- At 4 A.M. Sett S… Mast &: Lower Stearing sails and top Gallan: Ditto.  Latter Part of this 24 Hours Pleasent Breezeis and Clear weather.     Latt Obs 33..20 No.

Dist. 136         Course   S.29W.          Diff Lat. 119               Dep. 66
Lat. in. 33..20    Long. in. 21..14         Diff. Long. 80

Tuesday [June] 19th 1798:

Pleasent Breezeis and Heavey weather:-- Undor top Gallanstearing sails &c:-- Middle Part Squally with rain:-- Latter Part Steaddy Breezeis and Heavey weather: The Ship Martah. Hull Down astaren [astern]     Lattd. Obsd. 30..42 No.

Dist. 186         Course   S.32W.          Diff. Lat. 158              Dep. 99
Lat. in 30..42     Long. in 23..11          Diff Long. 117

Wedinsday June 20th [1798]:

Steady Breezeis and Heavey undor T. G. Stearing sails &c:-- Middle Part Squally with rain:-- At Midnight in Stearing sails fore & aft – Latter Part of this Day Dark and Heavey weath[er] with Squalls: --     Lattd. Obsd 27..52 No.

Dist. 178         Course   S.17W.          Diff. Lat. 170              Dep. 52
Lat. in 27..52     Long. in. 24..11         Diff. Long. 60

Thurdsday June 21st. [1798]:

Moderate Breezeis and Squally: -- At 1 A.M. In Mizzen and Staysails at ½ past Sett Ditto. – At Midnight Showers of rain and Squally: -- Latter Part of this Day Dark Cloudy weather with frequent Showers of rain:--     Lattd. Obs 25..22 North

Dist. 166         Course   S25W.           Diff. Lat. 150              Dep. 70
Lat. in 25..22     Long. in 25..29          Diff. Long. 78

Friday June 22d [1798]:

First Part of this 24 Hours Gentle Breezeis and Heavy weather:-- At 5 A.M. Squally with rain:-- At ½ past Sett Ditto. -- People Employed Making Matts[4] Spunyarn Mending Sails &c -- Carpindor and Mate Dressing Stenchens Coopor Making tubbs for the Slaves: -- Latter Part of this D[ay] fresh Breeze and Heavey weather     Obsd. in 22..46 No.

Dist. 171         Course   S.24W.          Diff. Lat. 156              Dep. 69
Lat. in 22..46     Long. in. 76               Diff. Long. 26..45

Satturday June 23d [1798]:

Pleasent: Breezeis and Heavey weather all this 24 Hours: -- All Small Sails Sett to the Best Advantage:-- People Employed as Before: --     Lattd. Obsd. 19..48 No.

Dist. 180         Course   S.8W.                        Diff. Lat. 178              Dep. 25
Lat. in 19..48     Long. in 27..12          Diff. Long. 27

Sunday June 24th. [1798]:

Pleasent Breezeis and Heavey weather all Sails Sett to the Best Advantage:-- At 11 P.M. In top Gallanstaysails and royals At 6 Sett. Ditto.—Latter Part of this Day fresh Breezeis and Heavy weather:--     Lattd. Obsd. 16..58 North

Dist. 173         Course   S.11W.          Diff. Lat. 170              Dep. 33
Lat. in 16..58     Long. in. 27..47         Diff. Long. 35

Monday June 25 [1798]:

First Part Light Breezeis and heavey weather undor T. Gallan Stearing Sails and royals:-- Middle and Latter part Ditto. weather:-- People Employed in Sundry Necessarys:--     Lattd. Obsd. 14..20 No.

Dist. 169         Course   S.29E.           Diff. Lat. 148              Dep. 82
Lat. in 14..20     Long. in 26..22          Diff. Long. 85

Tuesday [June] 26th [1798]:

First Part of this Day:-- Pleasent Breezeis and Heavey weather:-- All Small Sails Sett to the Best Advantage

Dist. 150         Course   S.21E.           Diff. Lat. 140              Dep. 54
Lat. in 12..00     Long. in. 25..27         Diff. Long. 55

Wedensday [June] 27 [17]98:

First Part fresh Breezeis and Clear Weather:-- At 6 P.M. in top Mast Stearingsail:-- Middle and Latter part Light Breezes and Cloudy     Lattd. Obsd. 10..28 No.

Dist. 102         Course   S.26E.           Diff. Lat. 92                Dep. 45
Lat. in 10..28     Long. in 25..18          Diff. Long. 45

Thurdsday June 28th [17]98:

First Part Light Breezeis and Clear weather:-- At Meridian Sett Stearingsails and royal. At 6 in Ditto.---

Dist. 93           Course   S.17E.           Diff. Lat. 90    Dep. 24
Lat. in 8..58     Long. in. 24..49           Diff. Long. 24

Friday June 29 [17]98:

Light Breezeis and Cloudy weather:---All Necessary Sails Sett   At 11 A.M. Squally:--     Lattd. Obsd. 8..8 North

Dist. 58           Course   S.30E.           Diff. Lat. 50                Dep. 29
Lat. in 8..8       Long. in 24..49            Diff. Long. 29

Sathurday June 30th. [17]98:

Light Ears [airs] and Squally W. all Necessary Sails Sett:-- At ½ Past 6 A.M. Hd. [hoved] S[hip] to the NErd:-----   Light Breezeis and Ditto. gloomey weather:--     This Day No Obsd.

Dist. 45           Course   S.51E.           Diff. Lat. 28                Dep. 35
Lat. in 7..40     Long. in. 24..14           Diff. Long. 35

Sunday July 1st. 1798:            [different handwriting]

Light Airs and Dark sultry weather… At 4 P.M. Inclinable to Calm   At ½ Past 2 A.M. sprung up a Breeze from the southward  Lattitude by Observation 7-48 North

Dist. 30           Course   N.75E.          Diff. Lat. 8                  Dep. 29
Lat. in 7..48     Long. in 23..45            Diff. Long. 29

Monday July 2d. 1798:           [same different handwriting]

First Part of this Day Heavey Weather with showers of rain  At Midnight the fore top mast stay gave way in the Beeis, at 5 A.M. got it Knott[ed] and set up  Middle and latter part Dark unsettled weather -- People employed doing sundry Necessaries  Latd. Obd. 7.. 36 North

Dist. 65           Course   S.79E.           Diff Lat. 12                 Dep. 64
Lat. in. 7..36    Long. in. 22..41           Diff. Long. 64

Tuesday July 3d. 1798:           [same different handwriting]

First part of this Day Light Airs and sultry Weather all Necessarry sails set  At 4 P.M. In T. G. Sails squally with rain, at 3 A.M. hove a cast of the Lead 90 Fathoms out    no bottam  At 9 AM unbent the top sails and bent the old ones… Latter Part of this Day Gentle Breezes and Clear Weather   93 Miles Distance     Lattd. Observed 7..03 North

Dist. 83           Course    S.67E.          Diff. Lat. 33                Dep. 76
Lat. in 7..03     Long. in 20..28            Diff Long. 76

Wednesday July 4th. 1798:      [same different handwriting]

Gentle Breezes and Clear Weather under royals &c at 7 Past M. Hd. [hoved] Ship to the Eastward.  Middle and Latter part of this Day Ditto. Weather. Soposed to Bee a Current Sche… to the: Northward:--   89 Miles Distance      Latitude Obsd. 6..53 North

Dist. 107         Course   S.84E.           Diff Lat. 10                 Dep. 106
Lat. in. 6..53    Long. in. 17..26           Diff. Long. 106

Thurdsday July 5th. 1798:       [same different handwriting]

This 24 Hours moderate Breezes & Cloudy Weather with light showers of rain  People Employed Men[ding] sails making Points[5] and Gaskets &c. Carpinter and Cooper doing sundry Necessaries.     This Day No Observation     110 Miles Distance

Dist. 105         Course   S.61E.           Diff. Lat. 50                Dep. 92
Lat. in 6..3       Long. in 15..54            Diff Long. 92

Friday July 6th. 1798:              [same different handwriting]

First part of this Day fresh breezes and Dark Heavey Weather… At 6 A.M. saw a Ship in the SW Quarter standing to the Eastward…At Midnight hove a cast of the Lead 90 Fathoms out no Bottom. Latter part strong Breezes and Cloudy weather. People Employed making Cage Nettings for the Main Deck. Carpinter & Cooper making sundry Necessaries.     Lattitude Observed  5.5 North     122 Miles Distance

Dist. 116         Course S60E.              Diff Lat. 58                 Dep. 100
Lat. in. 5..5      Long. in. 14..14           Diff. Long 100

[1] The Skerries lighthouse is located on a series of wind-swept and treeless islands by that name, two miles off Carmel Head on the north-west corner of Anglesey, North Wales, and eight miles north of Holyhead harbor, in an area of shallow rock outcrops and vicious currents. The area was notoriously treacherous and claimed many ships as victims. The origin of the name is Norse- a skerry being a rocky islet. The Welsh name, Ynysoedd y Moelrhoniaid, means ‘the Island of Bald-headed grey seals’. The lighthouse was first lit on November 4, 1717 and is still in operation.  ( resourcepool/Skerries6067.htm).
[2] A unit of distance equal to three miles or 4.8 kilometers (
[3] Noon or midday (
[4] To prevent chafing, a thick mat was woven from strands of old rope, spun yarn, or foxes, containing a greater or lesser number of rope yarns in proportion to the intended mat to be made. Entries from the logbook on the Ranger, another slave ship, from December 5, 1789 and December 7, 1789, state, respectively, : “Making mats for the lower yards sinet” and “making mats for the rigging and yards.” Wilkins, Frances, Manx Salve Traders: A Social history of the Isle of Man’s involvement in the Atlantic Slave Trade (Wyre Forest Press, Worcestershire: 1999), pp. 94-95.
[5] “Pointing” was unlaying and tapering the end of a rope and weaving some of its yarns about the diminished part, preventing it from being “fagged out” and making it handy for “reeving in a block”, etc. Similar entries from the slaving ship Ranger: “making gaskets and points” (December 14, 1789, “Making points for the new topsail” (December 17, 1789). Manx Slave Traders, pp. 94-95.

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