1728 diagram of a fighting ship

Large diagram Ship Of War

I’m grateful to Brian Anderson for spotting this amazing 1728 diagram of a British man of war of the period. It was published in Ephraim Chambers’ Cyclopedia of that year – see the relevant page in the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections. Also, see an article on the Slate website.

The Cyclopedia was an early English language encyclopedia.

The ship depicted in the upper diagram is a British Navy third-rater – and according to the entry in that more recent encylopedia, the Wikipedia, a ship of this sized had 64 to 80 guns, and though smaller than first- and second raters was thought to be the best compromise between speed and handling, firepower, and cost. The lower is a first-rater as marked.

Well, there may have been bigger fighting ships, but even the third-rater was obviously a fabulous thing – complicated and busy, and a mighty thing for anyone to have to master. Those old time captains and crew must have known a thing or two…