5 Replies Latest reply on Sep 16, 2020 11:57 AM by Jason Atkinson

    Seeking information on William Fleming’s ship

    Paul Foster Newbie

      I am searching for the name of the vessel that a William Fleming served aboard in the late months of the War of 1812. It could have been a U.S. naval vessel or on a privateer.  I discovered a historically-important copy of what is said to be an exceedingly rare 2nd and improved edition of “THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF FINDING THE LONGITUDE AT SEA OR LAND: TO WHICH ARE ADDED, VARIOUS METHODS OF DETERMINING THE LATITUDE OF A PLACE, AND THE VARIATION OF THE COMPASS; WITH NEW TABLES.  THE SECOND EDITION, IMPROVED AND ENLARGED” written by Andrew Mackay in 1798 (this edition in 1801)


      This book originally belonged to the aforementioned Captain William Fleming of Philadelphia, who inscribed in ink on its half-title page “Ship Sally & Betty / Atlantic Ocean / 1807 / Wm. Flemming” above the title and below, a later inscription: “Ship Mary / Pacific Ocean / October 1827 / Deo Optimo Marinus (Almighty God of the Sea), the earlier date likely relating to his original year of acquisition and use. Fleming was the son of John Fleming, a Philadelphia sea captain and followed his father’s career, beginning in as a Midshipman in the US Navy during the Quasi-War, serving 1799-1801. 


      Inscribed in ink by Flemming on the page opposite the title page is the following:  “This work in 2 Volumes with Sextant Charts & C. was taken from me by Capt. Lumley of the British Frigate Pomone when captured by her during the late War of 1812.  It was afterwards returned to me by the Sailing Master Mr. Wetherall as a private mark of his friendship.  I now give it to my Son John hoping it may guide him as it has me through many dark & stormy nights.  W. Fleming.  Ship Mary August 24th 1828.” 


      It is currently unclear what ship Fleming was aboard when taken by the Pomone and is this is the reason for additional research, although it can be pinned to the period in which Lumley held command, January to June 1815.  It is very likely that Flemming may have returned to naval service and perhaps was serving aboard Captain Stephen Decatur’s US Frigate President in the capacity of a warrant officer when she was taken by Endymion and Pomone on 15 January 1815.  However, British and American vessels were still being taken as prizes until news of the ratification of the Treaty of Ghent reached America in April 1815, which is when Pomone began her return voyage to England.  It is a very unique item, being full calf leather, covered in turn by hemp sailcloth (sewn folds being located inside both the front and rear covers) and inscribed n the spine in iron-gall ink “Mackay’s/Longitude”