A Master Mariner's Log Book - William Clay of Lower Town

Title page
Charles Mackay

William Clay was a Master Mariner of Lower Town who was born in 1826, went to sea as a boy and qualified as Mate in 1851 at Sligo. He was awarded his Master’s Certificate in 1855 at Swansea which qualified him as a Master Mariner.

In preparation for his Master’s Certificate,  he would have been required to keep a detailed log of his knowledge and experience as evidence of his suitability as a Master Mariner.

His log, which he wrote in 1854 has survived and has been passed down through family members to his great great grandson, Charles MacKay. Thanks to Charles, we have had the opportunity to photograph pages of the log book prior to it being deposited for safe keeping in the Pembrokeshire Archives, Haverfordwest.

The log book records the depth of knowledge required by mariners if they wished to become Masters. The log book has pages of detailed methods and calculations for navigation by moon and stars; for determining heights of inaccessible objects, measuring distance etc – all essential skills for a sea captain and all written in an exquisite hand with coloured illustrations.  Also included is a record of a voyage to Madeira in the ship, Brittannia in 1850 when William was still a Mate.

Just a selection of the many pages of the log have been uploaded here as the complete log is too extensive to include –  but you can visit Pembrokeshire Archives by arrangement to view it there.

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