Phillip Reid

Aug 10, 2023

A Boston Schooner in the Royal Navy, 1768-1772

Commerce and Conflict in Maritime British America

Boydell Press 2023

The small Boston-built schooner Sultana served as a customs-enforcement interceptor on the North American eastern seaboard in the period leading up to the American Declaration of Independence, when British taxation of American trade was a hugely contentious issue. As a typical workaday British American merchant ship taken into naval service, Sultana offers a rare opportunity to understand a technology of paramount importance to this world, where records for merchant ships are scarce, but where in this case a wealth of information, from plan drawings to the fully-intact logbooks, has survived. 

Phillip Reid's book A Boston Schooner in the Royal Navy, 1768-1772: Commerce and Conflict in Maritime British America (Boydell Press, 2023) provides a detailed narrative of the ship's activities, and reveals the nature of life on board and the day to day business of operating a small sailing ship. It explores the technology of the ship and her sailing qualities as revealed by the ship's logs and also by the performance of a modern replica. In addition, the book situates Sultana's role within the wider picture of the British Atlantic in this crucial period. It is thereby both naval microhistory and also Atlantic history for all scholars interested in the formation and development of the British Atlantic world.

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