The Unfortunate Captain Peirce and the Wreck of the Halsewell, East Indiaman, 1786
Author: Philip Browne
9781906978327 | PB | pp. 380 | 2015 | Hobnob Press
The first biography of Richard Peirce, captain in the service of the East India Company,and account of the wreck of his ship, the Halsewell, off Dorset in 1786. He drowned, along with members of his family, and the loss became a tragic cause celebre, recorded in literature and art.
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It was a time of foreign wars, financial crises, corruption, cronyism and a class system that stifled social mobility. Yet, before that disastrous night in 1786, Captian Richard Peirce enjoyed only good fortune in the maritime service of the East India India Company. In a long and successful career, he sailed to the East Indies seven times, encountering military heroes, corrupt ‘nabobs’, artists, map-makers and soundrels.
Then, on a tempestuous January night, his ship, the Halsewell, struck rocks on the Dorset coast. In one of the most dramatic shipwrecks of the eighteenth century, the ‘unfortunate Captain Peirce’ lost his ship, his daughters, his fortune and his own life.
This book traces his career to a tragic conclusion that shocked and upset the nation. Two centuries later, his story still has the power to move us.
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