Joseph Mallord William Turner

Notes on Officers and Men of the ‘Victory’ (Inscriptions by Turner)


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 114 × 184 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXXXIX 14

Catalogue entry

Turner’s notes read as follows:
Lt. Williams. middle s. small dark Eye. Small rather pointed nose 5 8 | Mr Atkinson. Square. Large. Light hair, grey Eye. 5 11 | Mr. Robins. Midshipman. young Dark Eyes. rather small. good teeth 5 9 | Mr. Adair broad. rather tall and dark. 5 10 | Boatswain. Dark arched E Brow forward chin. Sharp look | Ld. N. J.C. hat without B. lapelled Coat. C. Hardy wore | B. gaiters. 4 Sailors carried some Officer down about the | time Ld N fell on his left arm some one forwarded | to help him. A marine to every Gun stands aft. 8 others | C. Hardy rather tall looks broad full face [Finberg: ‘looks dreadful (?)’] but sharp nose | fair about 36 years | Marshall young. Long tail round face broad lips 5 2
The men all served on the Victory and are identifiable with varying degrees of certainty from her muster roll.1 Other than Nelson himself, in order of mention they are: Edward Williams, Lieutenant; Thomas Atkinson, Master; probably Thomas Robins, Master’s Mate promoted from Midshipman or James Robertson, Midshipman; Charles Adair, Captain, Royal Marines, Chatham Division; William Willmet, Boatswain; Thomas Masterman Hardy, Captain (who was indeed aged thirty-six); John Marshall, Able Seaman or William Marshall, Ordinary Seaman. By the unnamed ‘Officer’ who was ‘carried down’ at about the same time Nelson was struck by a fatal bullet, Turner could mean Captain Adair, who was killed, or more probably the flag-lieutenant, John Pasco, who was wounded in the arm.
For a drawing of Pasco and his helpers see folio 11 of the sketchbook (D05460; Turner Bequest LXXXIX 13); as Turner describes in a further note on folio 23 (D05465; Turner Bequest LXXXIX 17) he was ‘carried down the G[ang]. W[ay]’. Turner included the incident in his 1806 picture, Battle of Trafalgar, as Seen from the Mizen Starboard Shrouds of the Victory (Tate N00480;2 see Introduction to the sketchbook for the picture and related work), together with Williams, Atkinson, ‘Robins’, Hardy and probably both Marshalls. They are identified and numbered in his accompanying key (Tate D08266; Turner Bequest CXXI K). Turner’s note on the gun crews must refer to the lighter guns positioned on the upper decks – twelve-pounders on the quarter and upper gun decks and forecastle. Smaller guns were manned by eight men whereas the thirty-two-pounders on the lower deck required more, typically fourteen for each pair of guns when in action.
John D. Clarke, The Men of HMS Victory at Trafalgar Including The Muster Roll, Casualties, Rewards and Medals, Uckfield 1999, pp.27–50.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.46 no.58 (pl.68).

David Blayney Brown
March 2006

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