Friday, March 29

Images of Life at Sea 23

From the Purser's lock box, them there's thirty shillings.

Wednesday, March 27

The Trial of William Bradford

The Old Bailey, 1808
1097. WILLIAM BRADFORD was indicted for that he, on the 3rd of June , at St. Mary Le Strand , feloniously did falsely make, forge, and counterfeit, a certain bill of exchange , to the tenor and effect following, (that is to say,)

"868 l. 9 s. 6 d. Sterling,
"His Majesty's ship Acasta, 27th of March, 1815.
"GENTLEMAN, Thirty days after sight of this my first of exchange, my second and third of same tenor, unpaid, please to pay unto Mr. Jonathan Gaine , or order, the sum of eight hundred and sixty-eight pounds nine shillings and sixpence sterling, for value received in provisions, purchased for the use of his Majesty's ships, Acasta, Newcastle and Leander, as per vouchers, to be transmitted by,
"Your humble servant,
"The Commissioners for Victualling his Majesty's Navy, London."
"I do hereby certify that the above bill is drawn for the services therein expressed, and by my order,
"A. R. KERR, Captain."
With intention to defraud our Sovereign Lord the King, against the statute.

SECOND COUNT. For feloniously uttering and publishing as true a like forged bill of exchange, with the like intent.

THIRD & FOURTH COUNTS. The same as the two former, only stating the prisoner's intent to be to defraud John Clark Searle , esq. George Philip Towry , esq. Nicholas Brown , esq. Thomas Welch , esq. John Aubin , esq. Frederick Edgecumbe . esq. and Robert William Hay , esq. Commissioners for victualling his Majesty's Navy .

FIFTH & SIXTH COUNTS. The same, only stating the prisoner's intent to be to defraud Alexander Robert Kerr .

SEVENTH & EIGHTH COUNTS. The same, only stating the prisoner's intent to be to defraud John Trevaston .

NINTH COUNT. That he having in his custody and possession a bill of exchange as described in the first count, feloniously did falsely make, &c. upon the said bill of exchange, an indorsement thereof, as follows, (that is to say,)

"G. Guy" with intention to defraud our Lord the King.

TENTH COUNT. That he having in his custody and possession a like bill of exchange, upon which was a like forged indorsement thereof, feloniously did utter and publish as true the said forged indorsement of the said bill of exchange, with the like intention, he knowing it to forged, against the statute.

ELEVENTH & TWELVETH COUNTS. The same as the ninth and tenth, only with intent to defraud the persons named in the third and fourth counts, viz. The Commissioners for Victualling his Majesty's Navy.

THIRTEENTH & FOURTEENTH COUNTS. Only with intenth to defraud Alexander Robert Kerr.

FIFTEENTH & SIXTEENTH COUNTS. The same, only with intent to defraud John Trevaston .

SIXTEEN OTHER COUNTS. The same as the former sixteen other counts, only in setting forth the bill of exchange putting
"perv hers," instead of
"per vouchers" and
"Commissioners," instead of

SIXTEEN OTHER COUNTS The same as the first sixteen Counts, only in setting forth the bill of exchange, putting
"dates" instead of

SIXTEEN OTHER COUNTS. The same as the second sixteen counts, only in setting forth the bill of exchange, put
"dates" instead of

WILLIAM BOWKER . I am a clerk in the bill department at the Victualling Office, Somerset House. When bills are drawn by his Majesty's officers, they are left in a box at the office for acceptance. (Forged bill put into the hands of the witness.) I look at this, and remember to have found it in the the box, as I described, on the 2nd of June. I find an entry made upon it, of
"the 3rd of June," which entry I made myself. (Reads.)

"On the 3rd of June, ordered to be accepted from the 2nd of June, and charged as interest against Captain Kerr." This entry is made upon the bill for the purpose of ascertaining whether an examination is made to see whether the duplicate and triplicate are paid. There is another
"not paid," and my initials,
"W. B." are affixed to those words; there are also the initials
"T. R." which I believe to be the initials of Mr. Richardson; he checks my examination, and these initials are indicative of his check,
"W. Gosling, ordered to be accepted," is also written on the bill; that is his hand writing; I have also,
"5th of June, V. O." I believe that to be Mr. Evitson's writing. - No; I am corrected; it is not so.

- HOLDFORD. I am a clerk in the Victualling Office. I look at the forged bill, and see
"5th of June, V. O. 1147." V. O. means Victualling Office; the last means that it is registered on the 5th of June, and that the number of the entry is 1147.

JOHN EVITSON . I am a clerk in the Victualling Office. I look at the forged bill, and see my initials on it. I wrote them for the purpose of signifying that I checked it off; I mean by that, that I had heard the case read off against the bill.

CHARLES SMITH . I am also a clerk in the Victualling Office. (Turning to his book.) I have an entry of the delivery of a bill, on the 13th of June; it is

"on the 13th of June, to George Williams, for George Guy , 7, Montague-street, Russell-square." That entry refers to the bill No. 1147, registered 5th of June, the amount eight hundred and sixty eight pounds nine shillings and sixpence. (Forged bill put into the hand of the witness.) I think that is the bill. By the entry in my book, I am enabled to say, that I delivered the bill to a person named George Williams , for Mr. Guy; that is, that the person who came for the bill called himself Williams, and said he came from Mr. Guy.

RICHARD BOWER. I am a clerk in the Victualling Office. It is my business to deliver out what is termed the case.

LORD ELLENBOROUGH. Then the case is a proecipe to the cashier, for the payment of the bill.
Mr. Attorney General. Yes. Richard Bower . (Reads.)

"Case, 5th of June, date of assignment, 4th of July." I mean by the date of assignment, the date for the order for payment. (Continues to read.)

"eight hundred and sixty-eight pounds nine shillings and sixpence, bill delivered on the 5th of July, to George Williams, for George Guy , 7, Montague-place, Russell-square." The latter part of the entry enables me to say that the person who called for the bill, called himself George Williams , and said he came from George Guy . (Forged bill and case thereof, put into the hands of the witness.) There are the bill and case to which my entry relates; I annexed the bill to the case, and delivered them to Williams.

CHARLES TWEDIE . I am cashier of the Victualling Office. (Bill and case thereof, put into the hands of the witness.) That bill and its case were delivered to me for payment. on the 5th of July last; I recollect that it was past two o'clock considerable; that was after the hour of business, which closes at two. I recollect a reason for my giving a draft; the person who brought the bill said it would be a matter of consequence, as he came a considerable distance. I accordingly paid him with this draft upon the Bank of England. (Producing the draft.) The name of " George Williams ," is on the back of the bill; that is the name of the person who brought the bill, and by whom, by that means it was discharged.
Mr. Attorney General. Then John Nokes brings his bill to you, and you having given him a draft upon the Bank of England for the amount, he puts his name upon the back of it, and by that means discharges it - A. Exactly so.

Q. I observe that there is an endorsement on the back of the draft
" George Williams " - 
A. I did not see it then.

Q. Was it written at your office - 
A. I know nothing at all about it.

GEORGE JAMES WILLIAMS . I am in the employ of the East India Company, as a rider in the home department. I have been acquainted with the prisoner for the last three years. He called at my father's house, and requested I would call at Somerset House to do a little business for him; he told me to come between twelve and two. I went. He gave me a particular bill, and told me to go to a certain apartment for a bill; he pointed out the particular apartment to which I was to go; he gave me some instructions; he told me to say I came from Mr. George Guy , Montague place, Russel square. He assigned as a reason for his not doing this, that he, being a clerk in Somerset House, was not allowed to do agency business. He said, the bill had been sent to him by a friend, a lieuteuant, in the Country. He shewed me a part of a letter, which had an import to that effect. So instructed, I went to the place which he directed me; I was asked the questions which he pre-supposed to me that I should be asked, and I gave the directed answers. I got the bill; I gave my name in, George Williams , for George Guy ; the bill then purported to be accepted. (Forged bill put into the hands of the witness.) That is the bill; my signature is affixed to it, which I did when Mr. Twedie gave me the draft upon the Bank of England for the payment of the amount. When I so received the bill, I gave it to Bradford; he, and I, then walked into the City together; then we parted. He called upon me, on the 5th of July, at my father's house, and requested I would call upon him that day at Somerset House, before two o'clock. I went accordingly to his request. He then gave me that bill, and directed me to go into a certain apartment for a case. I did not then know what the case meant. He pointed out the appartment. I went, and gave in the bill, and got it back affixed to the case; the bill was wafered to the case. (Case put into the hands of the witness.) That is the case to which the bill was wafered when delivered to me. I was then directed by the gentleman from whom I got it, to go to Mr. Twedie, but I went to the prisoner, who accompanied me to the outside of the door of Mr. Twedie's office, and as it was past two o'clock, directed me, if Mr. Twedie should object to pay the bill on account of its being past the hour of business, to say, he would oblige me by paying it at that time, as I came a considerable distance. I then went to Mr. Twedie; he made the objection, on account of its being past two o'clock; I made the directed reply, and received the draft from Mr. Twedie to prevent my having the trouble of calling again. On my coming out, Bradford was in the hall, and I gave him the check.

Q. What is on the back of the draft, (putting the draft into the hands of the witness,) 
- A."Received for George Guy, 7, Montague place, Russel square. George Williams." When I delivered that draft to the prisoner, no such writing as that was upon it. There is no part of that my hand writing. We then went to the Bank together; I saw him write something upon a piece of paper, which I supposed was the description of the notes he wished the check to be paid in; I remember he received a five hundred pound note, for I heard the clerk say what notes he wanted. After he was paid, we walked together as far as the end of Leadenhall-street, and there we parted. I never have received any gratuity or recompence in any way whatever for this business which I transacted for the prisoner.

Cross examined by Mr. Alley. I am positive I received the bill in Somerset House, and not in the City. I believe this bill to be the same I left for acceptance; it was out of my possession for a considerable time, from the middle of June to the 5th of July; but under all circumstances, I believe it to be the same.
Be-examined by Mr. Attorney General. When I delivered the bill to the prisoner after I received it again, he did not make any objection that it was not the same bill.

PETER BENTLEY. I am a clerk in the Bank of England. (Check put into the hands of the witness.) On the 5th of July last, that check was entered for payment; I look at the back of it, and by that means am enabled to say that it was presented on the 5th of July; on its being presented, I requested the person who presented it, to write a receipt on the back of it, as is customary; that person did so, and I gave him an order, a voucher on the cashier for payment. I hold in my hand the order I gave the presenter for eight hundred and sixty-eight pounds, and a separate order for nine shillings and sixpence.

THOMAS WRAGG . I am pay clerk to the Bank. On the 5th of July, an order was sent to me by the last witness, for payment of eight hundred and sixty-eight pounds; the bank notes in which I paid it were checked by Mr. Bonquet.

JAMES JOHN BONQUET . I checked the notes which were paid by the last witness, in satisfaction for that draft; among others, I paid a five hundred pound note, dated the 20th of June, 1815, and numbered 5327; also a twenty pound note, dated 26th of May, 1815, number 3747, and also a ten-pound note, dated 7th of June, 1815, number, 12,553; I also paid two hundred pound notes; I paid to the amount of eight hundred and sixty-eight pounds.

MARY HEDGES. My husband keeps a public-house, called the Nelson, in Nelson-street, Hackney road.

Q. Do you know the prisoner at the bar - 
A. Yes. I recollect his calling upon me some time in the month of August last, to pay a small debt he owed, not exceeding four shillings; he paid it in a twenty-pound note, which he endorsed with his name, and which endorsement, I subscribed,
"at Mr. Sharp," that being the place where the prisoner lodged.
(Bank of England note for the payment of twenty-pounds, number 3747, was here put into the hands of the witness.)

Q. Is that the note - 
A. It is, I believe.

JOHN VAUGHAN . I am a journeyman to Mr. Fielding, pawnbroker, of Whitechapel. I recollect a person coming to our house, on the 5th of July, in the present year, to redeem a silver watch, which had been pledged; the principal and interest of which amounted to one pound nine shillings and seven pence; he tendered in payment this note, (producing a note,) which I changed, deducting the amount, and delivering him the watch, together with the change; he put on the front of the note, Mr. Smith, 7, Oxford street, Whitechapel, and that was the name in which the watch was pledged; (turning to a book.) The number of the watch was 2698, and the name of the watch maker was James Rollinson , London.

Cross examined by Mr. Alley. 
Q. When was that name and number entered in that book - 
A. On the day the watch was pledged.

Q. Who made the entry? did you - 
A. No.

Q. Is the person here who did make it - 
A. No.

Mr. Alley. Then my lord, I submit that this will not do.

COURT. Q. To Vaughan. Did he describe the watch? did he produce a duplicate - 
A. Yes, and I gave him that watch for it. (Both duplicates produced.)

Mr. Attorney General. The reason it is called a duplicate, is this; two tickets are made out, one is affixed to the article pledged, the other, which is a facsimile of it, is delivered to the pawner, who upon wishing to redeem the pledge, presents you that ticket; you then have recourse to the pledge; on your observing a correspondence, between the ticket given you and the duplicate on the back of the pledge, you know it to be the same, and deliver it to the pawner, on the payment of the principal and interest - A. Exactly so.

Q. Was this done in the present instance - 
A. Yes.


Mr. Abbot. Then what was that note - 
A. A ten pound note, number 12,555, 7th of June, 1815.
(Watch produced to witness, by Vickery, the officer.)

Q. Is that the watch of which you have been speaking - 
A. Yes.

JOHN VICKERY . I am an officer. I saw the prisoner in custody after he was apprehended. He directed me to go to his father-in-law's, Mr. Sharp's, No. 10, Nelson street, Hackney-road; he told me, I should find the five hundred pound note and the two one hundred pound notes in a drawer under a press bedstead, in the front room, in which he lodged, at his father-in-law's house; he said, the notes were wrapped up in a piece of paper, under a quantity of old newspapers. This is the five hundred pound note in my hand, which I found as he directed, and the place answered in every respect his description. It is a five hundred pound note. (read)
"No. 5327, dated 20th of June, 1815." The watch was produced to me by Mr. Sharp; I had my reasons for asking for it.

ALEXANDER ROBERT KERR . I commanded his Majesty's ship Acasta . On the 27th of March, she was between three and four hundred miles to the Windward of Barbadoes; I was then on board; I never received any supplies on the 27th of March; it is the custom of the service when provisions are required, for the purser to draw a bill upon the Commissioners for Victualling his Majesty's Navy, at the bottom of which bill, I signify that it is well and duly drawn, for the consideration therein mentioned. (Forged bill put into the hands of the witness.) The name of our purser is Trevaston; the signature of this bill,

" John Trevaston ," is not his hand writing.

JOHN TREVASTON . I am purser of his Majesty's ship Acasta; that vessel was at Say on the 27th of March. This signature affixed to the bill in question, "A. R. Kerr," is not his hand writing.

JOHN ROSS . I was acting lieutenant of his Majesty's ship Acasta. I have examined the signatures "John Trevarton and A. R. Kerr," affixed to this bill. I am well acquainted with Captain Kerr's and Mr. Trevarton's hand writings, and neither the one nor the other of these signatures is either of their hand writings.

________ TULLY. I have had various opportunities of observing Captain Kerr and Mr. Trevarton write their signatures. Neither of these names written on this bill is either of their hand writings.

[Special Research note: The above named Mr. Tully (with no first name given in the Old Bailey records) could potentially be the Acting Master John Tully as originally learned about in a REAL CREW post. His biography states that he served aboard "Acasta 40, Capt. Alex. Robt. Kerr, until presented, in Aug. 1815, with a Lieutenant's commission…", so the timing would be right, not to mention as the acting master, Tully WOULD have had 'various opportunities' to observe the Captain and Purser sign their names.  --Albert]

MARY SHARP . The officer, Vickery. came to my apartments for a watch; it was Mr. Bradford's watch; he used not constantly to wear it about his person. I saw the officer search the drawer under the bedstead Mr. Bradford occupied the apartment where that drawer was, in which the note was found. Mr. Bradford slept in that room the night previous, and went out at the usual hour in the morning.

THOMAS MOORE . I am a clerk in the Victualling Office. The prisoner sits in the next desk to me; I have known him and his hand writing for three years. I look at the indorsement on the order for payment, and the words,

"received. 5th of July, George Williams, for George Guy ," are the prisoner's hand writing.
Mr. Alley. Objected that in this indictment, in setting forth the bill, stated,

"that the bill was for provisions purchased for the use of his Majesty's ship Acasta. Newcastle, and Leander, as per vouchers, to be transmitted by, &c" Now, on the face of the bill, no such word

"as vouchers," occured; for there was only

"as" of some letter or other, and the letters

"hers," and therefore that statement was not maintained.

LORD ELLENBOROUGH. This has been the case by the application of a wafer, and I don't think it is a defect at all. I am endeavouring to find a word of which this can be a fragment consistent with the context, and there is no other word than "vouchers." Without that, it would be rank nonsense.

Prisoner's Defence. I received the bill from Guy.

Eight respectable witnesses gave the prisoner a good, character for integrity and assiduity in his official duties for five years previous.

GUILTY - DEATH , aged 23.

First Middlesex Jury, before Lord Ellenborough.

Old Bailey Proceedings Online (, version 7.0, 22 February 2014),
October 1815, trial of WILLIAM BRADFORD (t18151025-116).

Tuesday, March 26

Our New Captain!

(Or… Why I decided to spend a small fortune on a new uniform)

Originally published 7/18/2018
The captain's new duds in progress...
Allow me to introduce the new captain of the Acasta, Sir James Robert Rehme! An amalgamation of various famous Royal Navy captains, as well as real captains of the Acasta during the course of her career.

Like my stint as ‘the Doctor’, my stint as ‘the Captain’ will be more focused on what I’m doing rather than who I am supposed to be. But since we called the Doctor ‘Albert Roberts’ (my REAL name), I had to pick something new for the captain… so I did.

There will be, no doubt, some questions as to why I have decided to become our New Captain, ‘Sir James’.

Since the beginning, as the co-founder of the unit, I have been in the thick of all the decision-making for the group. In the first years I did the bulk of the recruiting, I created the website and the Facebook page on behalf of the group, and did TONS of other stuff as well.

On top of that, my responsibilities only grew as our original Captain gradually declined involvement in leadership and attended fewer and fewer events with us.

It became increasingly difficult for me to be the leader at events while wearing the surgeon’s uniform. It just doesn’t make sense for the surgeon to be issuing orders to sailors and it always left me feeling weird and we end up with a bunch of pictures of the Doctor presiding over the days activities. Additionally, over the years there have been activities that required a Captain… but it’s hard to make plans that involve him when he may or may not show up, or calls out at the last minute.

My secondary impression of Mr. Hollybrass solved SOME of those problems. As Boatswain, it allowed me to take up more of a natural leadership role at events, but poor Hollybrass can’t give orders to officers!

We needed a captain who could be present and available, and there just weren’t any viable candidates as far as I could tell. Actually there was ONE, but he lives out on the West coast and already has his own Naval unit...

Obviously, Sir James isn’t going to appear at EVERY event we do, it just wouldn’t be appropriate. And truth be told, there are many events we attend where officers aren’t needed as badly as sailors.

I want you to know that I did not take up the mantle of Captain lightly. I was very hesitant about the idea originally and required a good deal of convincing. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. At the end of the day, I’m already the ‘Admiralty’ and do all the real-life leadership stuff, I might as well have the uniform and character to match. I essentially do all the work of the Captain without ANY of the benefits. What the hell kind of fun is that I ask?

So once I was sold on the idea, I had to keep it a secret… for a YEAR. Keeping it from some of my closest friends for 365 days has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done! 

Sir James has been the product of over a year’s worth of thought, planning, research and construction
by many people. I want to thank everyone who has encouraged me to take this big, uncomfortable step, Christina, Nat, Frank, Carol and Chris. They all believed in Sir James, even before I did. 

But mostly I would like to thank my poor wife, Maggie, who not only took up the Herculean task of making the great gold monster, but has been my cheerleader all along the way, and listened as I would rant about the pros and cons of taking up this new role. God save you good wife, you bore it as no other would have! I love you very much!

Monday, March 25

Images of life at sea

A small incision knife and the larger Catlin above, with a double and single retractor below. On the left is a small bowl I use for bleeding, and on the right, a cupping glass also used in the Art of Phlebotomy.

Took the instruments out and gave them their regular cleaning with the vinegar from my supply. The vinegar assists in keeping corrosion in the metal at bay and serves to prolong the life of the instruments themselves.
My poor old Pigskin Leather apron.
You can clearly see the regular spot where I wipe my hand at the lower right.

Friday, March 22

Googlemaps for London c. 1746
This website allows you to search a wide body of digital resources relating to early modern and eighteenth-century London, and to map the results on to a fully GIS compliant version of John Rocque's 1746 map.

Records of crime, poor relief, taxation, elections, local administration, plague deaths and archaeological finds can all be searched and mapped on this site.

Building on a fully GIS compliant version of John Rocque's 1746 map of London, this site allows you to relate an eighteenth-century representation of the metropolis to the first accurate OS map of London (1869-80), and to a modern Google Maps environment.

Thursday, March 21

Men of War, Life in Nelson’s Navy

Men of War, Life in Nelson’s Navy 
by Patrick O’Brian

a very brief book review by Tony Gerard

This book is a nice little primer for anyone who is thinking about a naval impression but doesn’t know a thing about it. At less than 100 pages, and many containing pictures, it’s a very easy read. Unfortunately the pictures, while nice, don’t always go along with the text very well. An informative little book for just getting your feet wet. When you get serious get “Jack Tar “ by Roy and Lesley Adkins.

Wednesday, March 20

March 1813 Captures

The London Gazette 
Publication date:19 May 1818 

Tuesday, March 19

Deleted Scenes

The deleted scenes from the 2003 film Master and Commander: Far Side of the World. They're great fun if you haven't seen them already. I would LOVE a version of the film with these scenes cut back in!

Monday, March 18

The Art and Science of Knotwork: a Primer

By Buzz Mooney

When you mention the word “knotwork”, different people will picture different things: The rigging of sailing ships, 60s macramé wall hangings, or elaborate ancient Celtic graphics, seen in ancient Irish Gospels, like the Book of Kells.  It helps to sort through the confusion, by understanding that these are all, at their roots, the same thing: a form of continuous-line weaving. 

In my youth, as a Boy Scout, I struggled with knot-tying: A knot I had JUST learned, and tied successfully, was lost to me, minutes later. “The rabbit goes around the tree, and the shark jumps over it… no, the shark eats the boat, then the rabbit eats the shark… No…” Knot-tying was like Algebra: complicated, and hard to imagine how I’d use it, in real life. It wasn’t until my early 20s, when I developed a fascination for Ancient Celtic art, and knotwork, in particular, that I began to see the patterns and architecture of knots. And when I began my fascination with Sailing Ships, I began to see that knots are like old-style LEGO, or Tinkertoys: You only really have a few different pieces to work with: It’s how you COMBINE them, which makes all the different knots.  When I went to Hollywood, to work in Special Effects and Props, I took my newfound understanding of the Art of Ropework with me: When James Franco played James Dean, I did the fancywork shoulder-sling on his conga drum, and the “monkey’s fist” he plays with on the set of “Giant”. For Band of Brothers, I coiled all the letdown ropes the 101st guys wore for the Normandy jump. I even did the ropework for a prototype hammock for Master and Commander, but, alas, another Prophouse got the gig, so my work didn’t appear in the film. Having a working CONTEXT to use this knowledge, made all the difference.

I won’t go much into the TYPES of knots: Hitches, to secure a line to an object; Bends, to temporarily connect two lines, Splices, to PERMANENTLY connect two lines, or create a clean end on a line, and True Knots, to create a stop or other such feature. I’ll talk, primarily, of the STRUCTURE of knots.  In the accompanying images, I’ll be using red nylon rope: It’s easier to see the various elements of each knot, than with a natural-fiber, laid rope.

To understand what I mean about knots being made up of only a few, related elements, let’s look at the Sheet Bend (Figure 1): This is a quick, temporary hitch for connecting two lines.  You can see that one line is simply a loop, the other goes up through, around under both legs of the loop, and up and across, passing under itself. Now look at the Bowline (Figure 2): It’s EXACTLY THE SAME KNOT! The only difference, is that the working end of the line from the right, loops around to become the standing end of the line from the left.  So here, one of the most basic bends becomes one of the most basic hitches, simply by virtue of the loop. Cut the loop, and it’s a Sheet Bend.

Now, lets look at Two Half-hitches (Shown loose, in Figure 3, and taut, in Figure 4): If I slide it off the belaying pin, and snug it up (Figure 5), you can see the way is creates a diagonal, across itself, making a sort of “Letter N”.  If we look at the Clove Hitch, (Figure 6) you can see that same “Letter N” is formed around the pin, itself, instead of around the standing part of the line. If I KEEP “throwing” Hitches around the pin, I get “French Hitching” (figure 7); a decorative and protective covering, which can also improve handgrip on railings, etc. If, however, I ALTERNATE the direction of subsequent hitches, I get “Cockscombing” (Figure 8), which serves the same purpose, but with the resulting ridge running straight down one side, rather than spiraling. The Taut-line Hitch (Figure 9) many of us learned in Scouts, for adjusting tent ropes, is just another variation on the use of Half-Hitches.

To tie the infamous Sheep Shank (Figure 10), double the rope back on itself, twice, making an elongated “S” or “Z”, and throw a half-hitch over either end.

When you start getting into Stop-knots, like the Wall, the Crown, the Wall-and-Crown, or even the Matthew Walker, or Splices, or into Turk’s Heads, the principles of the aforementioned Celtic Art come in: In Knotwork, the Artist generally follows a rule of “Over one, under one” (or Over 2, under 2, etc.) In addition, on splices, and most good Stop-knots, you’ll be using the individual yarns of the line, untwisted from each other, to create your knot.  Here, I’ll be using three separate ropes, taped in a bundle, to represent the three individual yarns, unlaid from the end of the rope, to create a basic Crown Knot. First, laying open the yarns, I bring one up and over, down between the other two, laying it alongside the standing part of my rope (Figure 11). I then take the next end, and do the same (Figure 12 and 13). But I can’t simply bring the third yarn up and over the other two: it has to be interwoven with them, so that each holds its neighbor in place.  To do this, I’ll draw the first two loops tighter, to help me see where I need to go.  As you can see here, (Figure 14) yarn#1 isn’t holding anything down, and nothing is holding down yarn #2. So Yarn # 3 has to go OVER #2, and UNDER #1, like so: (Figure 15). When I draw them up tight, (Figure 16) you can see that they form a tight triangle, with each going over one, then under the next. If I continue this pattern, (Figure 17 and 18) I can build a larger knob, useful to stop a line running out of a block, or to form a handhold at the end of the line.

This is by no means an exhaustive exploration of knotwork, but, hopefully, it gives a basic understanding of the structure and architecture of ropework: The basic, geometric principles that help to create not just a knowledge of how to tie several knots, but how to UNDERSTAND how knots work, and to choose or develop the knots needed for any task.

Recommended reading:
The Arts of the Sailor. Hervey Garret Smith

The Marlinspike Sailor. Hervey Garret Smith

Celtic Art: The methods of its Construction. George Bain

Ashley Book of Knots.  Clifford W. Ashley

The Sea Scout Manual. Boy Scouts of America.
(I recommend looking into some of the earlier editions, since content changes over time. I also suggest seeing what the British Naval Brigade/National Sea Cadets may have published. Such guides tend to focus on the basics, and can be very helpful for “learning the ropes”, quite literally.)