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Friday, October 28, 2005

English Captain: Christopher Gunman

Christopher Gunman served in the Restoration navy. One question is if he was the same as the noted cartographer. Clowes mentions Captain Christopher Gunman was one "of the most noted cartographers." In 1666, he commanded the Dutch prize Orange Tree (26 guns). He distinguished himself in two actions. In the second, he lost an arm. He had been cruising with the French Victory, commanded by Thomas Scott, when they chased two Dutch warships. He had been operating off Guernsey. On 3 June, his ship was in port at Plymouth. On 25 July 1666, he was at sea, cruising in the Channel. In 1667, he commanded the Reserve. In 1669, he was appointed to command the Forester. Later in 1669, he commanded the Anne yacht. In 1672, he was appointed as 2nd Captain of the Prince. In April 1672, he helped conduct a survey of the bread in the fleet. He fought in the Battle of Solebay, and his journal has helped to document the movements during the battle. Sadly, he was not a prominent enough figure for his journal to be included in Anderson's book. After John Cox was killed, Christopher Gunman became flag captain. In 1673, he was back as captain of the Anne yacht. On 23 September 1677, the King appointed him as captain of the Mary yacht. The commissioners reappointed him as captain of the Mary yacht on 22 October 1681. He was reappointed again on 23 June 1682. He was dismissed from the service "by a courtmartial for the loss of the Gloucester". The Gloucester had been taking the Duke of York to Leith. The ship was commanded by Sir John Berry, but navigation was entrusted to Captain James Aire. The Gloucester was wrecked on the Lemon and Oar. At least 130 were lost. There is a memo by Christopher Gunman that suggests that it was part of a plot to kill the Duke of York. Sources:
  1. William Laird Clowes, The Royal Navy: A History from the Earliest Times to the Present, Vol.II, 1898.
  2. Frank Fox, A Distant Storm: the Four Days' Battle of 1666, 1996.
  3. J.R. Tanner, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Naval Manuscripts in the Pepysian Library at Magdalene College, Cambridge, Vol.I, 1903.

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