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Author Topic: POSSIBLE NAVAL ACTION OFF KENT IN 17th Century  (Read 251 times)

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Offline Alastair

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Re: POSSIBLE NAVAL ACTION OFF KENT IN 17th Century
« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2017, 15:10:36 »
Well done, everyone! It looks as if illness not naval action was the cause of these deaths, thanks to Longpockets. The Downs wouldn't be suitable for burial at sea due, as Martin says, to fishing and not being deep water.
There is no cause of death listed on the burials, with one exception. The chap fell down a well. So he was obviously on land and it follows that other deaths may have happened on land - fights, etc.
Thank you all again

Alastair

Offline Longpockets

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Re: POSSIBLE NAVAL ACTION OFF KENT IN 17th Century
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2017, 19:37:39 »
Prior to 1747 from this source

"For years diseases such as malaria, typhoid and yellow fever, and dietary deficiencies causing dysentery and scurvy, killed far more men than injury in battle, making the fight against disease as important as more conventional warfare."

I do not think if they died in The Downs they would have been buried at sea, but I stand to be corrected.

Offline MartinR

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Re: POSSIBLE NAVAL ACTION OFF KENT IN 17th Century
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2017, 17:10:20 »
I thought sailors who died at sea were usually given burial at sea.  They only got graves on shore if they were washed up after a shipwreck or died onshore.  Possibly that only applies to deep water, it would be a bit off if fishing boats started fetching up corpses. :-(  Anyhow, just a thought to throw into the ring.

Offline Alastair

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Re: POSSIBLE NAVAL ACTION OFF KENT IN 17th Century
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2017, 12:56:54 »
Thank you all, once again. I hadn't discounted natural causes, Longpockets, but the number of burials seems too high. I have no idea how many sailors died from illness aboard ship in those days but maybe that is the answer. If so, then medical conditions aboard must have been dire in the extreme.
There were a few merchant crew buried but the great majority was from the Royal Navy, notably HMS Swiftsure, Happie Entrance, Lion, Vantgard and Mary Rose. The spelling is as seen.

Regards

Alastair

Offline Longpockets

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Re: POSSIBLE NAVAL ACTION OFF KENT IN 17th Century
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2017, 09:07:35 »
Alastair, are you discounting "It could be they are sailors from the British ships who died of natural causes while at anchor in the downs"

From Bilgerat's post below - Also, up until about 1790, the level of healthcare in the fleet varied widely, from very good to non-existant until the Admiralty implemented Sir Gilbert Blane's recommendations in full. Until those recommendations came into force,  individual ships suffered periodic outbreaks of diseases such as Typhus and Dysentery.

I could find no reference to medical facilities in Deal for that period 1630 - 1640. There were probably not any Naval buildings as such there until later.

Are the graves all "Navy" as The Downs was also an anchorage for merchant ships.

I could understand them being buried in Deal if the battle were close by if it was a battle near to Deal, how many of the casualties would have been brought back. Not sure what the procedure was for those killed in battle. How many days away from land do you not bury at sea?

Offline CAT

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Re: POSSIBLE NAVAL ACTION OFF KENT IN 17th Century
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2017, 08:27:21 »
Though slightly later than the mid seventeenth-century, it is recorded that over 1000 seamen perished on the Goodwin Sands and the Downs (the bit of water between the sands and the coast) in the Great Storm of 26 November 1703 (modern Gregorian calendar: 7 December). Despite causing widespread damage to buildings and landscapes across southern England as reported by Daniel Defoe, Rear Admiral Beaumont's Squadron of Observation was lost. Other ships lost included HMS Restoration, HMS Northumberland, HMS Mary and HMS Stirling Castle. Between these few ships, of which there were numerous others, it is recorded that over 1099 men drowned, including Rear Admiral Beaumont. Daniel Dafoe notes that the following morning that the beaches between Walmer Castle and Sandown Castle were awash with the bodies of dead sailors.

Its also worth noting that during the seventeenth and early eighteenth-century, St Leonard's Church was regarded as the principal church of Deal, then known as Upper Deal, to distinguish it from the lower coastal settlement. It was not until the mid eighteenth-century that Deal (present coastal town) got its own church and the focus of settlement moved from on top of the hill to the sea front. 

Offline Bilgerat

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Re: POSSIBLE NAVAL ACTION OFF KENT IN 17th Century
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2017, 06:15:03 »
I don't know how relevant this is, but the fleet at the Downs intervened in the Royalist uprising in Kent during the Second Civil War (1647 - 1649). They may have suffered casualties in this fighting.

The fleet at the Downs sustained relatively heavy casualties during Nelson's Raids on Boulogne during 1801.

Also, up until about 1790, the level of healthcare in the fleet varied widely, from very good to non-existant until the Admiralty implemented Sir Gilbert Blane's recommendations in full. Until those recommendations came into force,  individual ships suffered periodic outbreaks of diseases such as Typhus and Dysentery.
"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent

Offline Alastair

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Re: POSSIBLE NAVAL ACTION OFF KENT IN 17th Century
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2017, 15:12:16 »
Thank you both for your replies. I'd considered casualties from shipwrecks but, so far, the burials are over a ten-year period. Having looked one or two of the ships up, the vessels appear to have gone on to other things later and therefore not been wrecked.
Never heard of the Battle of the Downs but, as you say, if it was between the Dutch and the Spanish, we presumably weren't involved.
It's a mystery. St Mary's churchyard in Walmer contains what seems to be most of Nelson's fleet but the reason for that is apparent. No such apparent reason for large numbers of naval personnel in the 1630's and 40's.

Alastair

Offline Longpockets

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Re: POSSIBLE NAVAL ACTION OFF KENT IN 17th Century
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2017, 19:43:33 »
It could be they are sailors from the British ships who died of natural causes while at anchor in the downs.

The Downs is the area of sea lying between the Kentish town of Deal and the Goodwin Sands, and was a very important anchorage for merchant shipping during the age of sail. Ships would lie at anchor, sometimes for weeks, sheltered from the East by Goodwins and from the North by the mainland between the North and South Forelands, as they waited for a favourable wind to carry them down the English Channel to the West.

From Elizabethan times, the presence of Downs helped to make Deal one of the main ports in England, and in the 19th century, it was equipped with its own telegraph and timeball tower, to enable ships to set their marine chronometers.

From Royal Maritime Greenwich

There was a battle of the Downs 1639? but that was between the Dutch and Spanish.

Offline mikeb

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Re: POSSIBLE NAVAL ACTION OFF KENT IN 17th Century
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2017, 16:32:43 »
Could they have come from ships wrecked on the Goodwins, not war casualties?

Offline Alastair

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POSSIBLE NAVAL ACTION OFF KENT IN 17th Century
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2017, 15:20:23 »
During my delving into the Church Records of Deal, specifically  St Leonard's Church, I find that a great many sailors from the Royal Navy (or whatever it was called then) were buried there. They are listed by name and ship and I assumed it was a result of the war with the Dutch. On consulting a reference book, I saw that the Dutch war didn't start until around 1850 and these burials are between the 1630's and 40's.
Do any of you well-informed people know of a war that would have resulted in many of His Majesty's sailors being killed in an action near to Deal?
I would be very interested to hear opinions.

Alastair

 

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