THE SURPRISING ADVENTURES OF JOHN ROACH, MARINER OF WHITEHAVEN.

Anonymous.


£100.00




Stirling, printed by C. Randall, 1st.ed., 1810. 24 pp., woodcut to title. No wrappers (as published) but with stab holes indicating that it might have been bound up with other chapbooks at some point in its history. Edges uncut. 16 x 10cm. V.G.+. Chapbooks are small pamphlets of popular and usually sensational character distributed by chapmen or hawkers, not by booksellers, often decorated with a crude woodcut. They were very popular during the 18th and the first quarter of the 19th century. This chapbook, printed in Stirling, concerns the adventures of a mariner from Whitehaven in Cumberland, John Roach, who was born in that port in 1748. He went to sea in a Workington vessel at the age of 11 employed in the coal trade across the Irish Sea for three years. In 1762 his ship sank in a storm but he managed to reach safety in Dundalk-bay. Telling his own story, John Roach was bound apprentice aboard another Workington vessel and continued in the coal trade for some years before joining a Bristol ship employed in the triangular slave trade. He goes on to describe the different ships and voyages until he arrives at the main junction of his story and his experiences while held prisoner by a tribe of savage indians known as the Woolaways, or the flat-headed tribe. He was brutally treated before he was able to escape by which time he could speak their language, but he ran into another tribe who captured him and tied him to a stake for execution although he was spared. After the tenth month of his captivity he got away and eventually reached safety at Guatemala – only to be thrown into a dungeon by the Spanish where he remained for three years without ever seeing daylight. In time he was sent to Havana, released by exchange of prisoners, and took passage home to England. His story illustrates the great dangers faced by seamen during this period, not only from the perils of the sea but also in remote lands and islands often inhabited by savages. THE CAPTIVITY AND SUFFERINGS OF A CUMBERLAND SEAMAN – A SCOTTISH CHAPBOOK OF 1810.


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