Hutchinson : Treatise on naval architecture [plate]


Hutchinson, William, 1715-1801.

A treatise on naval architecture founded upon philosophical and rational principles: towards establishing fixed rules for the best form and proportional dimensions in length, breadth and depth, of merchants ships in general, and also the management of them to the greatest advantage, by practical seamanship, with important hints and remarks relating thereto, especially both for defence and attacks in war at sea, from long approved experience

Liverpool: Printed by T. Billinge, 1794.

At a very early age William Hutchinson was employed on colliers, as cook, cabin-boy, and beer-drawer for the men. He gradually worked his way through all the most active employments as a seaman.

Hutchinson referred to his various experiences in his later book on seamanship, beginning with his time as a ‘forecastle man’ on board an East Indiaman in 1738–9, and making the voyage to China. His later experiences included a time cruising in the Mediterranean, prying on French shipping in the employ of Fortunatus Wright, merchant and privateer, and Hutchinson was himself in command of a privateer in 1747.

In 1750 Hutchinson commanded the Lowestoft, an old twenty-gun frigate sold out of the navy and bought by Wright, and in her traded to the West Indies and the Mediterranean. At some unspecified date his ship was wrecked, Hutchinson and his men escaping in a boat. They were without food, and cast lots to determine which one should die for the others. The lot fell on Hutchinson, but at the last moment he was saved by a vessel coming in sight. To the end of his life he kept the anniversary as a day of ‘strict devotion’. In 1759 he was appointed a dock master at Liverpool, afterwards also water bailiff and harbour master, posts he held for more than twenty years. In 1777 he published A Treatise on Practical Seamanship, which dealt also with the proper form and dimensions of merchant ships. This contained autobiographical material, and it ran through several enlarged editions.

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