John Lidiard, England. 14.09.1789 ~ 09.01.1876 Story No. 001
Juanita, New Zealand. Great-great-great-great grand daughter.
Neuman's impression of the Battle of Copenhagen.
© Statens Forsvarshistoriske Museum
John Lidiard was born at Deptford, England, in 1789. Deptford prospered as home to the Royal Navy Dockyards where wooden warships were built, victualled, and repaired under the shadow of London, on the banks of the River Thames. Admirals lived in beautiful homes in Albury Street, and Jack Tars were at home in riverside taverns. Press gangs roamed cobbled streets in search of able bodied men to abduct and force into a life at sea.
Volunteers were young boys who turned to a life at sea for their apprenticeship, education and a chance to earn a living. They entered the navy through port flagships or the Marine Society, learning the ropes on the Thames before being assigned to ships as servants to officers or senior seamen.
John was eleven years old at the Battle of Copenhagen. One ship at the battle, HMS Blanche, was built and manned at Deptford before sailing to join Sir Hyde-Parkerís fleet in Yarmouth bound for the Baltic. Perhaps John Lidiard was a boy on this ship. The battle was hot work at close quarters and hundreds of men were killed on both sides. The English came away from Copenhagen resounding victors. All but two of the Danish fleet were burned, captured or destroyed. During battle one of Admiral Hyde Parkerís officers, Horatio Nelson, placed his telescope to his blind eye. Unable to see the Admiral's signal to retreat, he 'turned a blind eye' and continued to blast his way to victory.
Young children worked as chimney sweeps or in damp, dangerous factories twelve hours a day. But true hardship was reserved for the most destitute, those who languished in poor houses or prison hulks waiting to be transported to jail on the other side of the world.
Relief guard arriving at a prison hulk, Deptford. E.Tucker.
Permission to use this image kindly granted by National Library of Australia.
Permission to use this image kindly granted by Wallace Early Settleres Association Inc, Riverton.
The river Thames was swamped with thousands of lighter boats ferrying crew and cargo between the ships and wharves. River pirates salvaged what they could when boats sank, and pilfered the rest from warehouses. The town's seafaring history was long and colourful. Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Francis Drake and Captain James Cook had all set out from Deptford. It was October 11 1789 when John Clark Lidiard was baptised at the ancient parish of St Nicholas, under the patron saint of sailors, protected by the skull and crossbones on its gate. For a boy there was but one way out of Deptford and so John began his career as a Royal Navy volunteer at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801.
Some were sold into service by their parents to repay debts or because it was one less mouth to feed. Many were drawn to the romance of adventure, but life at sea was often brutal. During battle they raced between decks with gunpowder hidden beneath their clothes trying not be maimed or killed by a wayward spark.
"Who were the servants who kept the great houses and the middle class homes of Georgian England running? What kinds of work did they do? How were they treated?What did they think of their masters and mistresses upstairs?"
"This richly illustrated book offers a concise overview of the historical background to Patrick O'Brian's acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series, a straightforward exploration of what daily life in Nelson's navy was really like for everyone from the captain to the rawest recruit."
A shipboy in Nelson's navy, a sailor, Jack Tar, a whaler. A lone white man in a native war society, the adventures of a father, a husband, a settler and a man who witnessed the birth of a nation.