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Missing Log of the H.M.S. Liffey Manuscript Journal - Navy Interest

Lot 494/0297

Estimate EUR: €1500 - €2000
Hammer price: €0

The Missing Log of the H.M.S. Liffey Manuscript Journal: Naval Interest – “Log of HMS Liffey commanded by Capt J.O. Johnson, kept by Conyers Lang, 1867.” Covers the dates 31 July 1867 to 10 Nov 1868. Illustrated title page. 28 views (water colours and pencil sketches throughout) and 4 coloured maps showing the ship’s routes. Bound in calf with gold tooling, later spine, marbled endpapers. 145 pp. 33 x 22 cm. This is the detailed and beautifully illustrated record of a Royal Naval frigate over a fifteen-month period. HMS Liffey was launched in 1856; she was a wooden-hulled, three-masted sailing ship with auxiliary steam power (screw-propelled), weighed 2654 tons, and carried an armament of 51 guns and a crew of 545. She was the second of five ships in her class, the first being HMS Shannon. Initially she served in the Mediterranean but in 1867 she was on the home station. The log begins with her departure from Plymouth, and for the next few months she cruised off the south-west coast of Ireland, proceeding from Queenstown (Cobh) to Berehaven and Foynes and then back. After her return to England she formed part of an expedition that brought a new British Ambassador to Copenhagen and then continued to Kronstadt. In July 1868 she was employed as guard of honour to Queen Victoria at Cowes in the Isle of Wight. In October she proceeded to Madeira and thence to Colon in Panama. The log records details of provisions taken on board, of changes in the crew, of drills and repairs, and the names of other ships encountered on the voyage. One especially poignant feature is the recording of deaths of seamen, for instance: “10 Oct 1867: Richard Smith found dead in hammock and was buried in Castletownbere” and “10 June 1868: Seaman Denis Shea fell overboard and drowned when coming in to Cronstadt.” Between June 1869 and November 1870 Liffey was a member of “The Flying Squadron”, consisting of four frigates and two corvettes, which was dispatched by the Admiralty on a world tour designed to promote British naval prestige. In 1877 she was converted to a store hulk and her machinery was removed, but in the following year she performed her most spectacular achievement, rescuing the crew of the Anita, a German barque full of combustible materials which had caught fire after leaving Madeira. She spent the remainder of her life at Coquimbo in Chile, where she was sold and hulked in 1903. The online Naval Database gives no information about Liffey between 1864 and 1868, which includes the months covered by the log now offered for sale. Perhaps this is because the record-keeper, Conyers Lang – who is not listed among the ship’s officers on the cruise of The Flying Squadron – held onto it when he left the ship? In addition to the log itself, the lot includes background research on HMS Liffey and a print-out of the online narrative of the cruise of The Flying Squadron written by Liffey midshipman Marcus McCausland. As a m/ss, w.a.f. (1)