1681 - London - 1749
King George I’s first arrival in England in the Peregrine Galley in September 1714, with Tilbury Fort saluting
Signed lower centre: P. Monamy . pinx
Oil on canvas: 26 ½ x 61 in / 67.3 x 155 cm
Frame size: 32 x 66 in / 81.3 x 168.9 cm
Painted circa 1714
Private collection, UK
Sotheby’s London, 13th November 1991, lot 2
Richard Green Gallery, London;
from whom bought in 1992 by John Windeler Robertson (1934-2012)
London, Richard Green, Exhibition of Marine Paintings, 1992, no.1, illus. in colour
FB Cockett, Peter Monamy 1681-1749 and his Circle, p.57, colour plate 16
Brian Lavery, Curator Emeritus of the National Maritime Museum, demonstrates in the following report that Monamy’s painting depicts George I’s first arrival in England in September 1714. George (1660-1727), Prince-Elector of Hanover, inherited the throne of Great Britain upon the death of the last Stuart monarch, Queen Anne, on 1st August 1714. He was a great-grandson of James I of England and grandson of Elizabeth of Bohemia, the ‘Winter Queen’. By the 1701 Act of Succession, no Catholic could inherit the English throne; George was Queen Anne’s closest living Protestant relative.
George I spoke little English and made frequent voyages back to his Hanoverian territories, employing the Royal yachts depicted in Monamy’s painting. The initial burst of enthusiasm for the new King, reflected in Monamy’s painting by the small boats setting off from Gravesend to greet him, soon dissipated into resentment by his English subjects. However, Jacobite attempts in 1715 to replace him with Queen Anne’s Catholic half-brother James (the ‘Old Pretender’) were firmly suppressed. George I’s offspring integrated with their British subjects much more successfully, and the Hanoverian dynasty ruled the country until the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. A Painting by Peter Monamy
Report by Brian Lavery, Curator Emeritus, National Maritime Museum
Until now this painting has been described as the Peregrine and other Royal Yachts off Upnor Castle. This has been questioned in the past, and this report will argue that it in fact shows the voyage of one of the early Hanoverian kings past Tilbury Fort, and most likely George I on his first arrival in England in September 1714.
There are three key actors which can be established beyond reasonable doubt to establish the identification – the flags, the fort on the right hand side and the principal vessel.
When King George I came on board the Peregrine Galley at Orange Poulder on 16 September 1714, the log records, ‘We put out all our silk colours before he came on board, at his coming on board, hoisted the Royal Standard at main topmast, Lord High Admiral’s flag at fore, [?] at the mizzen.’ (National Archives ADM 51/685). The last part is difficult to interpret but presumably means the union flag, in which case it matches exactly the flags shown in the painting. This is borne out by the log of the Charlotte (ADM 51/4143), which records, ‘… the Standard and Admiralty flag and union flag flying on board the Peregrine.’
The flag on the main topmast is clearly the Hanoverian Royal Standard, with the fourth quarter incorporating the two lions passant guardant of Brunswick, the lion rampant azure of Luneberg and the horse courant argent of Westphalia, with Charlemagne’s crown representing the Holy Roman Empire in the centre. This form remained in use until 1801 and was only flown at the main when the sovereign was on board. (W G Perrin, British Flags, p 76). However it was flown from the ensign staff to call a council of war, as shown in several Monamy paintings (Cockett, op. cit., pp 30, 67).
The fort to the right of the picture firing a salute has been identified as Upnor Castle in the past, perhaps because of its prominent tower. However, when Tilbury Fort was rebuilt in the 1670s it still incorporated Henry VIII’s tower, which was not demolished until a further rebuild in the 1870s. (A D Saunders, Fortress Britain, p 96). The low ramparts to the right, the single tower and the lack of any hills behind suggest that it is Tilbury rather than Upnor. In fact it is remarkably similar to what is shown in Sailmaker’s print of around this time.
The Peregrine Galley
The Peregrine Galley was the largest of the royal yachts, and the only one which was ship-rigged, with three masts all carrying square sails. There is no reason to doubt the identification of it in the picture as it matches other illustrations, including the stern decoration and characteristic quarter gallery. There is no evidence that the sovereigns sailed in any other vessels during this period, except the William and Mary by chance in 17. (see later). That yacht had a very different rig.
The Peregrine Galley was originally built in 1700 to a design by Peregrine Osborne, son of Charles II’s minster Lord Danby, who was a naval officer and talented naval architect. She had an unusual keel with a bell-shaped cross section and was a highly successful design which had much influence on small warships for more than a century. She was classified as a 20-gun sixth rate in her early years but did much royal duty before bringing George I to England in 1714. After that she was re-classified as a yacht and re-named Carolina.
The Carolina, formerly Peregrine Galley, by L de Man
In 1714 her captain was William Sanderson, who had served in Royal Yachts since the Revolution of 1689. The new King knighted him at Gravesend, but he was replaced as captain by Galfridius Walpole, the brother of the future prime minister. The official justification was that Walpole had seen much action during the recent wars and had lost his arm at the battle of Vado in 1711, whereas Sanderson had spent all his time in yachts. Sanderson complained about his dismissal, and claimed the right to keep some of the furniture taken from the yacht, including a bed which he wanted to pass on to his grandchildren. (National archives, SP42/15). Instead he was made Gentleman Usher (Black Rod) of the House of Commons.
Peregrine Galley in the centre, off Deptford with Greenwich in the background, by Jan Griffier the elder. The ship to the left flies the Royal standard, it is not clear why.
National Maritime Museum BHC1821
The Other Yachts
From 1714 onwards it was common to send a squadron of warships and six yachts to transport the King and his retinue to and from Hanover, picking him up at a Dutch port. This matches the number shown in the painting. The yachts in 1714 were;
Peregrine William Sanderson
Henrietta William Moses
Katherine Robert Robinson
Cleveland Richard Byron
Mary John Guy
The yachts shown are mostly cutter-rigged, each with a single mast carrying mainly fore-and-aft sails. The exception in the picture (apart from the Peregrine) has a rig known at the time as yacht or ketch rig, with a tall square-rigged mainmast and small mizzen. Three yachts are known to have been rigged like this. The Fubbs and Isabella were designed that way in 1682-3, while the Charlotte was converted at Deptford in 1710. William Sutherland depicted such a rig in his Shipbuilding Unveiled in 1717. Since he was a shipwright in Deptford Yard, it is possible that he had worked on the Charlotte.
The yacht shown, however, does not have the distinctive flat taffrail depicted in the plans of the Charlotte. This raises a slight doubt that she might have been the Fubbs, which was present on the 1719 voyage up the Thames; but it is more likely that Monany was working from memory or incomplete information and produced a more or less standard yacht stern.
Many small craft are seen setting out from Gravesend, presumably to welcome the new King. 1714 was a rare moment when he was popular.
Various small craft are seen among the yachts, including one state barge heading away from the Peregrine. It is clearly not carrying the king or any admiral or high official as it does not fly a flag, but it may be carrying a message to the shore, perhaps to prepare for the King’s arrival at Greenwich. Another state barge is seen in the distance heading towards the yachts.
A vessel is apparently about to cross in front of the Peregrine, creating a risk of collision unless she alters course. This is something of a mystery; it must be obvious to anyone that the king was on board. The log of the Peregrine does record that she was hit by a Barking fishing smack on the 17th, but that does not fit the case. The damage was to the quarter near the stern whereas this one looks more likely to strike the bow, and the ship shown here is far too big to be a fishing smack. It is perhaps too far-fetched to suggest that it represents the threat by the Jacobites to interrupt the celebrations, especially as the ship is flying the union jack which was not a Jacobite symbol. More likely, it is another small naval ship arriving with messages from London and about to alter course to come alongside the Peregrine.
The centre of the picture features several ships in the distance, presumably the normal trade of London heading down river
The 1714 Voyage
According to the Admiralty list book (ADM 8/13) twelve warships and a sloop were sent to Holland ‘under the command of the Earl of Berkeley to attend His Majesty from thence to Great Britain.’ They were to escort the six Royal Yachts.
A portrait of Berkeley bears the signature of Monamy. Though it has been suggested that he only executed the seascape to the right, it does establish a connection and raises the possibility that Berkeley commissioned the picture of the royal arrival.
The Earl of Berkeley. Monamy’s signature appears on the buoy to the right
National Maritime Museum BHC2552
The details of the voyage are recorded in the Peregrine’s log.
In summary, the ships sailed from Dutch waters in the 16th. The log mentions 13 men of war and a sloop, which is one more than in the list book, as well as five Dutch warships. The squadron reached the Nore off Sheerness by 6 on the 17th. The job of the major warships, to escort the yachts, was done now that they were out of the open seas and they fired a salute while the yachts proceeded up river, followed by Lord Berkeley in the sloop Jamaica. By midnight there was a thick fog and the ships anchored at the lower end of the Hope. It cleared by ten the next morning and the yachts ‘turned up at Gravesend’ opposite Tilbury. There is no specific mention in any of the logs of a salute being fired by Tilbury Fort, but it seems almost certain that it would be done. They got far as Long Reach by 4 pm, when the King went into a barge to take him to Greenwich, where he would be officially received.
The Jamaica Sloop
The list book also records that the sloop Jamaica was present during the voyage, and her log records that Admiral Berkeley transferred his flag from the Monck to her to follow the yachts up the Thames. ‘at 5 the admiral and all the fleet saluted His Majesty. Ditto the earl of Berkeley hoisted his flag on board of us, at 9 anchored in the Grange Spits in 3 fathoms, at ditto weighed, at ½ past 11 anchored in Lee Road, being thick weather … AM. weighed at ?, the admiral went in our boat, we saluted him with nine guns. 5 Pm, His Majesty went from Long Reach on one of his barges, we saluted him with 15 guns.’ This makes it clear that the Jamaica was present when passing Tilbury.
There is no clear picture of the Jamaica, but it has been reconstructed by Ian McLaughlin in Sloop of War. It had a similar rig to most of the yachts but a much narrower, lower and plainer stern. No vessel like that is shown in the painting, which raises the intriguing possibility that Monany was on board her as part of Berkeley’s suite, and sketched the scene from life. There is no sign of his name in the muster and pay books of the Monck or Jamaica, but that is only to be expected
The only other occasion when George I sailed this far up the Thames was in November 1719 - at other times he was put ashore at Margate, and in 1720 the squadron was driven south by bad weather and he landed at Rye. The yachts used in 1719 were:
Carolina (ex Peregrine) Galifridus Walpole
Fubbs Francis Wivell
William and Mary John Guy
Henrietta William Moses
Mary Charles Molloy
Charlotte Joseph Bannister
It is possible that the painting shows the 1719 voyage, but that seems unlikely. The celebrations, especially the small craft putting out from Gravesend, appear to be spontaneous, and George I was never so popular again after his first arrival; and his return in 1719 was more of a routine matter.
George II also made several voyages to Hanover but none match the picture. On his first on in 1729 the Carolina was late at Hellevoetsluis and he sailed in the William and Mary instead. (National Archives 52/361, 12 September 1729). In 1732 he was rowed ashore from the Hope to land at Gravesend. ‘At ½ past 1 o’clock at the upper end of the Hope, the King went from on board of us in our boat, we struck the standard and saluted His Majesty with 7 guns. Sir Charles Hardy steered the King ashore to Gravesend.’ (National Archives 51/203, 29 September 1732).
The Carolina was rebuilt at Deptford from 1732-4 and her stern was very different after that, with six or seven windows instead of four and a quarter gallery leaning backwards. Therefore the painting cannot represent any of the voyages after 1732.