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Captain Maitland’s Jolly Boat Wine Coasters, 1800
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Captain Maitland’s Jolly Boat Wine Coasters, 1800

Measurements: Length: 31.5cm (12.25in)



Silver on copper. A pair of double wine coasters in the form of clinker-built jolly boats, the interiors with circular depressions for bottles, decanters and stoppers, rope-ring attachments to prows, each engraved on the stern thwart with the Maitland family crest and motto Consilio Et Animis (By wisdom and courage). The forward thwart further engraved with the initials F.M. for Captain Frederick Maitland, R.N. (1777-1839).

These uniquely naval jolly boat coasters give a glimpse into the shipboard dining customs of officers in Nelson’s navy. It was customary at the table after pouring wine or spirit from the decanter, to return it to the stand and push it along to the next officer. It is believed that the saying ‘to push the boat out’ has its origins in the custom as the officer paying for the wine was the first to start the jolly boat off round the table. Jolly boat wine coasters were sometimes supplied with wheeled carriages, supposedly for use ashore. At sea, these were dispensed allowing the flat bottomed coasters to provide the necessary stability aboard a rolling ship. Fittingly, the present pair of jolly boats belonged to a Captain who held commands at sea almost continuously from 1800 to 1815. The earliest known jolly boat coasters that can be precisely dated bear the silver hallmark date of 1799 (Dawson, W. R., (1932) The Nelson collection at Lloyd’s). Of the few examples that are known nearly all are Sheffield plate (silver on copper) and thus unmarked. The National Maritime Museum refers to an example belonging to Captain George Murray, R.N. (d.1819) that can confidently be dated to his period of command of H.M.S. Edgar, 1801-1803.
The initials and armorials engraved on the present jolly boat decanter stands place them in the original ownership of Captain Frederick Maitland R.N., who at the age of thirty-eight in July 1815 accepted the formal surrender of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte on board the 74-gun H.M.S. Bellerophon (or as lower deck knew her the Billy Ruffian). News of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo reached Maitland on 28 June, followed by a letter from Bordeaux that warned him that Napoleon was planning an escape to America from the French Atlantic coast, probably from Bordeaux. Maitland believed that Rochefort was the more likely point of escape, but took the precaution of sending two smaller craft to cover other ports, one to Bordeaux, and another to Arcachon. He kept Bellerophon herself off Rochefort. His admiral Sir Henry Hotham was aboard H.M.S. Superb covering Quiberon Bay, whilst a string of British frigates, corvettes, and brigs were watching all along the coast. Hotham told Maitland that should he intercept Bonaparte, he was to take the former emperor to England.

Maitland's instincts proved correct, and Napoleon arrived at Rochefort in early July. By this time, he was in an untenable position. He could no longer remain in France without risking arrest; indeed, Prussian troops had orders to capture him dead or alive. However, the Bellerophon and the rest of Hotham's fleet were blocking every port. He therefore authorised the opening of negotiations with Maitland. The negotiations opened on 10 July. Maitland refused to allow Napoleon to sail for America, but offered to take him to England instead. The negotiations went on for four days, but eventually Napoleon acquiesced.

He surrendered to Maitland on 15 July and embarked on the Bellerophon with his staff and servants. Maitland placed his cabin at the former emperor's disposal and prepared the Bellerophon for England. During Napoleon’s time aboard, he only spoke French. At first Maitland struggled to keep up with his rapid fire speech, but after a day or two of brushing up the elementary French first learned at the Royal High School Edinburgh, he found himself on more or less equal terms. Characteristically Napoleon was full of questions about Maitland’s ship, its sailors and firepower. For an undisputed military genius, Napoleon had a surprisingly limited understanding of naval affairs; and with his total control of the press he had long underplayed the deficiencies of his own naval forces and had been able to conceal Nelson’s 1805 victory at Trafalgar from the bulk of the French people until 1814.

At dinner one evening Napoleon complemented the Royal Navy with the words - “If it had not been for you English, I should have been Emperor of the East; but wherever there is water to float a ship, we are sure to find you in our way.” While on board Napoleon continued to conduct himself as a Royal personage - a state of affairs that went unquestioned by his captors. At dinner Maitland recorded that Napoleon ‘showed no depression of spirits’ and through conversation discovered the head of the Maitland family was Lord Lauderdale. “Ah! … he is an acquaintance of mine, he was sent as ambassador from your King to me when Mr Fox was Prime Minister; had Mr Fox lived, it would never have come to this, but his death put an end to all hopes of peace. Milord Lauderdale est un bon garçon.” Napoleon for his part proved himself an entertaining guest, proudly displaying his folding campaign bed to Maitland and a group of his officers. On another occasion Napoleon invited Maitland to play cards. Maitland, in endeavouring to excuse himself, claimed that he his wife forbade him from taking any money to sea, whereupon Napoleon declared he was more than happy to lend him some.

Bellerophon reached Torbay on 24 July, and was ordered to Plymouth, whilst a decision was made by the Government over Bonaparte's fate. She sailed again on 4 August and whilst off Berry Head on 7 August, Napoleon and his staff were removed to H.M.S. Northumberland, which conveyed him to his final exile on Saint Helena. Maitland later wrote a detailed narrative of Bonaparte's time on the Bellerophon, which he subsequently published in 1826.

Rear-Admiral Sir Frederick Lewis Maitland, K.C.B., R.N. (1777-1839) was came from a family of distinguished naval and military officers, and followed his father into the Navy, and was present in the frigate Southampton at the fleet action of the Glorious First of June 1794. Maitland passed for lieutenant in1795 and, joined the fleet under Lord St Vincent, who appointed him to the sloop Kingfisher in which he made several successful cruises. He quickly became noted for his courage, and the ships' company subscribed £50 to present him with a sword. He did not spend long with Kingfisher though, as she was wrecked on 3 December 1798 as she was leaving the Tagus. Maitland had been in temporary command at the time, and received the customary court-martial. He was honourably acquitted and appointed to serve at Gibraltar as flag lieutenant to Lord St Vincent.

In 1799 St Vincent ordered Maitland to carry out reconnaissance on the combined Spanish and French fleets in the hired armed cutter Penelope. When Maitland arrived however, he found the Penelope's lieutenant was sick and unable to take command. Maitland took over instead and attempted to follow his orders. He was apparently hampered by the cowardice and disobedience of the crew of the cutter, and the next day the Spanish captured Penelope and brought her into Cadiz as a prize. There Maitland met the Spanish admiral, Mazaredo who discovered that Maitland was Lord St Vincent's flag lieutenant. Being under an obligation to St Vincent, Mazaredo set Maitland free and returned him to Gibraltar without requesting an exchange.

On his return, St Vincent promoted Maitland to commander and gave him the sloop H.M.S. Cameleon. Maitland commanded her off the coast of Egypt, under Sir Sidney Smith until the signing of the convention of al-'Arish on 24 January 1800. Maitland was sent home overland with dispatches, but quickly returned to his command. He spent the rest of 1800 aboard the Cameleon, before Lord Keith moved him to the command of the H.M.S. Wassenar. The Wassenar was at that time moored at Malta, and had been deemed unfit for service. Maitland was given permission instead to accompany the expedition to Egypt. He was appointed to command the boats that were covering the landings and acquitted himself well. He then moved to support the army's right flank during operations on 13 March, and at the Battle of Alexandria on 21 March 1801. His service was specially acknowledged by the commanders-in-chief, and he was mentioned in Sidney Smith's report. These actions caused him to be rewarded with a promotion to post rank, dated to 21 March. He temporarily took command of the 74-gun H.M.S. Dragon, but had moved to command H.M.S. Carrère in August. He returned with her to England, and she was paid off at the temporary peace of Amiens in 1802.

With the renewal of war Maitland was appointed to the 38-gun H.M.S. Loire in which time he captured or destroyed a number of privateers and coastal batteries. He was involved in a particularly dramatic action on 4 June 1805 in Muros Bay, south of Cape Finisterre, for which he received the thanks of the City of London, the freedom of Cork, and a sword from the Patriotic Fund. He also took part in the capture of the French frigate Libre on 24 December 1805. His next command was the 36-gun H.M.S. Emerald, which he took up in November 1806. The service was the same as the Loire's, and Maitland continued his successes. He was at the Battle of the Basque Roads in April 1809, but due to the confusion Emerald was one of the ships that were not sent in until 12 April.

Maitland was given command of the 58-gun H.M.S. Goliath between 1813 and 1814, and was sent aboard her to the Halifax and West Indian stations. He was appointed to the 98-gun H.M.S Boyne in November 1814 and ordered to sail to North America. Maitland spent the early part of 1815 gathering a fleet of transports and merchants in Cork harbour in preparation for crossing the Atlantic, but found himself unable to set sail due to a succession of strong westerly winds. Before he could sail, news reached England of Napoleon's escape from Elba and his return as Emperor of the French. Maitland's orders were immediately countermanded, and he was moved to the 74-gun H.M.S. Bellerophon, the venerable survivor of three fleet actions, - Glorious First of June, Nile and Trafalgar.
In 1818 Maitland took command of the 74-gun H.M.S. Vengeur, and in 1819 sailed her to South America. He took Lord George Beresford from Rio de Janeiro to Lisbon in 1820, and then returned to the Mediterranean. He then carried Ferdinand I, king of the Two Sicilies from Naples to Livorno. The passage was rough and lasted seven days, but they arrived safely on 20 December. As a token of gratitude the king invested Maitland with the insignia of a Knight Commander of the Order of St Ferdinand and Merit, and presented him with his portrait, set with diamonds, in a gold box. Maitland then returned to England, and was appointed to command the 74-gun guard ship H.M.S. Geno at Portsmouth. He spent three years aboard her, leaving her in August 1823. He commanded H.M.S. Wellesley in the Mediterranean between 1827 and 1830, and was promoted to Rear Admiral of the Blue on 22 July 1830, and Rear Admiral of the Red on 10 January 1837.
He was admiral superintendent of the dockyard at Portsmouth between 1832 and 1837.

In July 1837 he was appointed Commander-in-Chief in the East Indies and China Station and raised his flag in the Wellesley again. He accordingly co-operated with the Army during its advance from Bombay towards Afghanistan in February 1839, and captured the town and fort of Karachi, going on to oversee the landing of troops and supplies. News then reached him of disturbances in the Persian Gulf, so he set off to investigate. He landed Marines and evacuated the British Resident and his staff. On 30 November 1839 he died whilst at sea on board the Wellesley off the coast of Bombay.