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 Battle of Camperdown - Captain Hubbard’s Tobacco Box, 1790
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Battle of Camperdown - Captain Hubbard’s Tobacco Box, 1790

Measurements: Diameter: 8cm



Brass. Of circular form, the hinged spring lid engraved with the monogram ‘IH' for Isaac Hubbard, and wreath of oak leaves and acorns. The interior with applied with manuscript note inscribed, ‘This Box / was in the pocket / of Captn Isaac Hubbard / of Dover as the / Battle of Camperdown / fought by Adml. Duncan / with the Dutch Fleet / 11 Octr 1797 / My Wife’s Great Uncle’.

Capt. Isaac Hubbard of Dover, by descent to his nephew
Robert Hammond (1784-1875), thence to his great nephew by marriage
Robert Edward Barker (1817-1911), H.M. Customs, Dover.

An accompanying manuscript note dated 1883 and penned by Robert Edward Barker, refers to the tobacco box, thus ‘These 2 Books (Cook’s Voyages) were  … latterly in the hands of Mr Isaac Hubbard who was the Captain of the Lugger that informed Admiral Duncan of the sailing of the Dutch Fleet under de Winter, and he was sent ahead of the fleet as scout - and was in the action off Camperdown. I have this brass Tobacco Box as a relic - and he declared that it had saved his life in the action by stopping a bullet that might otherwise have been fatal to him - (October 11 1797). I have seen him when under the influence of about half a dozen regular “Nor’ Westers” fight the battle over again - altho’ a very old man.’

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the Royal Navy made use of a considerable number of hired armed vessels. These were generally cutters and luggers used for duties ranging from carrying despatches and passengers to convoy escort, particularly in British coastal waters, and reconnaissance. The hired cutters Black Joke, Rose, King George, Active and Diligent and the hired lugger Speculator are all recorded as having been present at Camperdown, although all commanded by R.N. officers.

Hubbard of Dover

1.Isaac Hubbard (1701-1774) m. Patience Badcock, and had issue
1. Abraham Hubbard (1734-1819) of Dover, m. Susannah Kennet, and  had issue
1.Susanna Hubbard (Dover 1761 - Dover 1845) m. at Dover in  1782 Robert Hammond (1757-1805), and had with other issue,
1a. Robert Hammond (1784-1875) of Ickham, Kent, Second Owner of the Tobacco Box.
2a. George Hammond (1789-1873) of Dover, Customs  House Officer, m. Mary Ann Curling (1791-1861) and had  with other issue,
1b. Mary Ann Hammond (Dover 1819-1915) m. at  Dover 1848 Robert Edward Barker (Dover  1817-1911), H.M. Customs Service. Third Owner of the Tobacco Box.
2. William Hubbard, 1819 co-executor of his father’s will
3. Capt Isaac Hubbard (Dover 1770-1849) of Charlton. Kent. Owner of the Tobacco Box. In 1819 co-executor of  his father’s will.  He m. Ann Collings. Described as ‘mariner’ at death of 1st wife at  Dover, 1804 (Kentish Gazette).

Precise information on Captain Isaac Hubbard of Dover is elusive. However a ship building enterprise on Shakespeare beach belonging to a Freeman of Dover named Hubbard was in operation during the Napoleonic Wars.  An Isaac Hubbard of Dover is named as commander of the privateer Revenge that captured the Zetland Welvaaren, carrying 1400 bushels of Spanish chestnuts, and the Dutch vessel Oeconomie in the 1780s (Kentish Gazette refers). This Hubbard was possibly a brother of Abraham Hubbard (1734-1819) and uncle of the tobacco box Isaac Hubbard.

Further resources:

‘Armed Ships of Dover’, M.A.N. Marshall, Mariner’s Mirror, Vol 42, pp. 73-77.

ADM 359/24A/54, Caird Library, Greenwich‘An Account of the Number of Hired Armed Cutters, Ships, Vessels and Boats employed in the Public Service on the 31st December 1793, 1794,1795, 1796, 1797, 1798, 1799, 1800, 30th September 1801, 31st December 1802, 1803 and 15th March 1804, with headings for vessels' names, the nature and force of guns and men, the time employed and when paid off.’