19 FEBRUARY 1921, Page 19


MErz Navy Records Society has added to its fine series of publica- tions a memoir of Sir Henry Mainwaring, one of the beet seamen in the Navy of Charles the First. The memoir, which is to be followed by an edition of Mainwaring's technical works, is of considerable interest, for- Mainwaring, oddly enough, was overlooked by the Dictionary of National Biography and is known only to a few students. He was the son of Sir George Main- Waring, a Shropshire squire, and grandson of the well-known The Life and Works of Sir Henry Mainwaring. Wilted by G. E. Manwarlag. Vol. L Navy Iteconls Society. Secretary. W. O. Pieria. Admiralty. (Issued to members only.) Sir William More, of Loseley. He was born in 1587 and matricu- lated at Brasenose, Oxford, when he was twelve. After taking his degree, he entered himself at the Inner Temple in 1604, but he was not content to follow the law. In 1611 he was commissioned by the Lord Admiral to proceed against the pirates infesting the Bristol Channel, but in 1612 he himself turned pirate and, like other English adventurers of good birth, preyed upon Spanish and French shipping from a stronghold on the Barbary Coast. Mainwaring achieved notoriety by his skill and good luck, and he had the sense to accept a royal- pardon in 1818 before it was too late. Two years later he was- knighted by James and appointed a Gentleman of the Bed- chamber. He was engaged by the Venetians as a naval expert in 1619, when the Republic was threatened by Spain, and at Venice he met and pleased Sir Henry Wotton, the English agent, who described him in a letter to Lord Zouch, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, as a " redeemed Neptune." Mainwaring served as Zouch's deputy. as Lieutenant of Dover Castle from 1620 to 1623 and sat as Member for Dover in the Parliament of 1621. Then he quarrelled with Zouch and, attaching him- self to Buckingham, became one of the Commissioners of the Navy.

The author's main purpose is to show that Buckingham and his masters made a serious attempt to reform the naval administra- tion, and that Mainwaring played a considerable part in this undertaking. It is true that Buckingham's naval ventures, to Cadiz, to the Isle of Rhe,and to La Rochelle, were all grievous failures, and by these he has usually been judged. Yet there is some truth in the plea that Buckingham as Lord High Admiral laid the foundation for a permanent and efficient Navy. He appointed a Navy Board of experienced seamen and he built a large number of ships. He infected James with his enthusiasm; "the wooden walls of the Kingdom," said the Lord Keeper in 1621, " were his Majesty's special care." He made a still greater impression on Charles the First, who gave serious attention to the Navy, and may indeed be said to have sacrificed his throne in the pursuit of his naval polioy. For it was the King's determination to equip a powerful fleet to defend England's interests in the. Narrow Seas against France, Holland, and Spain that led him to impose Ship-money first on the coast towns and then on the whole Kingdom. The new tax, imposed by royal writ without the assent of Parliament, raised a grave constitutional controversy, ending in the civil war which cost Charles his crown and his head. The result showed that Charles was thoroughly ill-advised in resorting to arbitrary taxation, even to raise money for the Navy. But he was perfectly right in think- ing that the Navy ought to be strengthened. Many historical text-books suggest that Charles made the Navy a mere pretext for imposing fresh taxes, that a fleet was not needed, and that the money raised was spent on the idle pleasures of the Court. This is unfair to Charles and prevents the reader from under- standing the King's painful dilemma. Had Charles put the interests of the dynasty entirely before those of the nation—as he understood them—he would not have troubled himself at all about the Navy ; he might then have ruled for more than eleven years without a Parliament, as the old customary taxes and feudal dues might have sufficed for his ordinary needs. In deciding to levy Ship-money, Charles took the risk of straining the prerogative partly for the sake of the Navy ; the alternative, which he rejected, was to surrender part of his prerogative to Parliament, without any certainty that Parliament would make adequate provision for naval defence. It must be added that the Opposition was in no wise composed of Pacifists. Selden, a strenuous Puritan, was the chief advocate of the doctrine that England was the natural ruler of the North Sea and the Channel. As soon as the Civil War ended, the Parliamentary party went to war with the Dutch in defence of England's traditional privileges, and it used against Holland the Navy which Parlia- ment had refused to help Charles in building and equipping. Politicians, then as now, were not models of consistency. We need only remark that the Commonwealth's triumphs at sea were in no small degree due to the strenuous work of Buckingham and of Charles himself in the twenty years before the. Civil War. The Ship-money Fleets, described in detail in this book, showed a steady improvement in the Navy between 1635 and 1641. They deterred the Dutch and French from attacking England, and they proved more useful than the land forces in harassing the Scots daring the " Bishops'• Wars."

It must be admitted that Charles was no more fortunate than his predecessors and immediate successors in securing a

contented Navy. He built many powerful warships, but he could not eradicate the dishonesty and corruption which were the curse of our naval administration before and after his day. Ho had some good captains, who, like Mainwaring, knew their work and formed a nucleus for the regular naval service which began at this time. But the seamen were so badly treated that the Navy was always in a state of incipient rebellion. Rascally contractors, in league with the officials in London or Chatham, supplied provisions which were uneatable. In 1636, for instance, Northumberland reported that the salt beef was " white and blue mouldy," and that the dried fish had to be thrown overboard. It is not surprising that good sailors avoided the King's ships, and that the landsmen who were impressed fell sick by the hundred and deserted whenever they had a chance. Buckingham's naval expeditions failed because the ships' companies were hopelessly inefficient, and the Ship-money Fleets were all hampered by the same abuses. The men's pay was, of course, in a.rrear ; just before Buckingham was assassinated by Felton at Portsmouth the Duke had taken an active part in suppressing a mutiny among the sailors, whose leader was hanged. The dockyard men at Chatham, having had no wages for a year, marched in a body to London in 1627 to remonstrate with the Lord High Admiral. The Common- wealth checked these abuses to some extent, but Pepys, after the Restoration, had to grapple with the old evils. Main- waring, according to his biographer, did his best to raise the standard of efficiency and to secure just treatment for the seamen. He seems to have been an honest man. It is to his credit that he did not desert his master when the Navy went over to the Parliament in 1642, though the seamen cannot be blamed for welcoming a change of employers. Mainwaring was dismissed from his Mastership of the Trinity House and took refuge with the King at Oxford. In 1646 he commanded the Royal ship, the ' Great George,' which helped in the defence of Pendennis Castle, Falmouth, and he afterwards went with Prince Charles from Scilly to Jersey, and thence to Holland. He returned home in 1649. If he had ever made a fortune, it was all lost. He informed the Commissioners for Compounding in 1651 that his whole estate consisted of " a horse and wearing

• apparel to the value of £8," and the Commissioners accepted his statement. He died in May, 1653, and was buried at St. Giles's, Camberwell, a few weeks after Blake and Deane had fought the spirited action with Tromp off Portland which showed the resolute valour of the reformed English Navy. Mainwaring's work had not been in vain.