The Double Captain Manley, with additional Pegleg

9 April, 2012 at 8:07 pm 2 comments

Once again, the “Antique’s Roadshow” was full of surprises for the navally inclined among us. It all started with a couple who brought along the portraits of an officer and his ship.

“This belonged to my anchestor, rear Admiral John Manley, I believe, who was born, I think, at the beginning of the 1700s and he died somewhere in the late 1700s.”

Three huzzah’s for detailed information… but let’s have a look at John Manley’s possessions, maybe they’ll tell us more. First there’s this amazing travel globe, made in 1754 by Nathaniel Hill.

Dear readers from Australia and the USA, please have a look at these details – looks like you were still mythical beings!

Imagine, John Manley sailed the world with that wee globe in his hand, and obviously returned to tell about it! Amazing! And here’s the gentleman in question:

Unfortunately, neither expert nor family gave any further information about John Manley, not even the name of his ship was mentioned. Boo! There were no close-ups, either, so I couldn’t identify the ship (or even if there was a ship!) in the officer’s portrait. Please see the painting below (same ship, two different sights).

And as every decent tar, John Manley dressed to kill while on shore leave – just have a look at his splendid shoe buckles!

The buckles are worth about £ 1’500, the globe £ 5000 – £ 7000, but the true value here is the history. No value was given for the paintings, and I was left wondering once more how much of the AR is real and how much is staged. I don’t want to rule out that there are peope who have two large oil paintings, an antique globe and sparkly 18th century shoe buckles in their house and never notice them, but I find it very hard to believe nobody in that family ever thought about trying to do research on these items. If not out of interest in family history, then out of financial interest.

I did a quick research, as I’d love to know more about John Manley and his ship. But as usual, things became complicated very quickly – looks like there were two John Manleys!

According to Louis Arthur Norton in his book “Captains Contentious: The Dysfunctional Sons of the Brine”, one John Manley seems to have deserted from the Royal Navy in Boston and made a career in the Continental Navy and the United States Navy (that would be this gentleman, I assume).

The other Manley stayed with the Royal Navy. He served as fourth lieutenant in HMS Dublin during the 1770 Falkland Island crisis, made post-captain in 1782 and died in the rank of a vice-admiral. That seems to fit in with the portrait; I’m not an expert, but it has very much an end-of-1700s/early 1800s feeling about it (uniform, no wig, stocks). Anybody out there who knows more? Please yell!

And last but not least: a peg leg! Previous owner unknown, early 19th century, maybe even Napoleonic. £ 500 – £ 700, and it came with a love declaration from one of the owners to Hilary Kay. Awww…

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Entry filed under: 18th century, resource, royal navy, ships. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Happy Easter! Rejoice! Garrow’s Law will be repeated on BBC4! And what we missed…

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Chris B.  |  17 April, 2012 at 2:46 am

    I came across your post, and felt I could contribute:

    There is a John Manley in Steele’s Navy List, captain 1782, Rear-Adm 1804, Vice Adm sometime before 1810 (he was promoted Vice Adm of the White in 1810), so he clearly died after that. I find nothing else in a rather cursory search of the London Gazette for 1804-1815.

    White lapels, but no epaulettes implies a pre-1795 uniform. I believe it’s a Captain’s uniform, so the portrait should date 1782-1795. His shirt collar (folded down) and stock look about right for that time, too, but I cannot speak to his hair style, which looks like it is his own hair, but I can’t tell if it’s tied back.

    I hope this is helpful. There is a couple of years of Steele’s Navy List on Google books, if you want to look for ships he might have commanded or posts he held as admiral. I’m not sure if they are searchable.

    Reply
  • 2. Jonathan Manley  |  22 February, 2015 at 6:09 am

    Not much to do with the above, but I have a distant relative who sailed with Capt. Cook on his first voyage down under, to Australia. He was midshipman at the time, and rose to Admiral of the Red by the time he retired. He was Admiral Sir Isaac Manley. He outlived all the other members on that first voyage of Cooks. He married a wealthy woman named Poole and, and built what is known as Braziers, a stately home in Southern England. If you have any more of different information I would love to have it.

    Reply

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