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Peter Monamy - His Majesty's yacht 'Dublin'
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Peter Monamy

His Majesty's yacht 'Dublin'

Oil on canvas: 36.3 x 48.5 (in) / 92.1 x 123.2 (cm)
Signed lower right: P Monamy

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1681 - London - 1749

Ref: CA 157


His Majesty’s yacht Dublin

Signed lower right: P Monamy

Oil on canvas: 36 ¼ x 48 ½ in / 92.1 x 123.2 cm

Frame size:


Painted circa 1746







The Parker Gallery, London

Peter Heraty, La Bigoterie, St Peter Port, Guernsey;

his sale, Bonhams Guernsey, 16th November 1992, lot 38;

where acquired by a private collector, UK;

by descent



FB Cockett, Peter Monamy 1681-1749 and His Circle, Woodbridge 2000, p.60, colour pl. 21


Monamy Painting of the Yacht Dublin, 1709-52

Brian Lavery June 2022


The yacht Dublin was built at Deptford in 1709 during the reign of Queen Anne – hence she was Her Majesty’s Yacht until 1714 when King George I succeeded and she became His Majesty’s yacht. She was designed by the master shipwright of Deptford Dockyard, Joseph Allin with a length of 73 ft 2 ins and a breadth of 21 ft 7 ½ ins. She was originally rigged as a ketch with two fore-and-aft rigged masts but in 1732 she was converted to ship rig, with three square-rigged masts. This is how she was depicted in the Monamy painting so this document will be focussed mainly on that period.


The Painting



The painting shows the ship in two different positions. On the left, it is sailing close-hauled, or as far into the wind as possible, with the sails braced round tightly. To the right it is sailing on a broad reach, with the wind coming from just aft of the beam. The mainsail, the lower sail on the centre or mainmast is furled in both, along with the topgallant sails above and the staysail in the bows, which was probably little used. She flies the red ensign from the stern, which is consistent with a ship under Admiralty orders. The union jack in the bows is more problematic – normally it would be flown only from a ship at anchor, and is probably an artistic device. In both pictures she is towing a small boat, which was normal at the time.




The decoration of the stern is quite elaborate and the figurehead in the bows is complex, which matches the documentation. The upper parts of the sides are painted red which matches the information on the paint used. Apart from that they are plain. There is no sign of any gunports, which is something of a mystery. Any ship of that size and period would have carried guns, especially an official yacht which needed them for saluting.



Figures can be seen on deck, including a brown-coated man on the quarterdeck who appears to be in charge – presumably the captain, though he is not emphasised in any way. The figures on the forecastle under the sail appear to be slightly oversize.


The Vessel

Three plans of the yacht survive in the collection of the National Maritime Museum at Woolwich and they are all believed to show her was first built in 1708-9. Two are practically identical and show her profile with the decks marked in, and the ‘lines’ or body sections which gave the hull its curved shape to the left.



The third one shows more of the inboard features and also includes a plan of her below-decks accommodation, an unusual arrangement with the captain’s cabin amidships rather than at the stern. It does not show the more luxurious cabins for the distinguished passengers which were a deck above. It is far from certain that the same arrangement was in use by 1732.




The lavish decoration of the Stuart period was restricted by orders of 1704. The original plans of the Dublin show only plain rings round the gunports rather than elaborate carvings. Even the rings seem to have been removed during one of her repairs as they are not shown in the Monamy painting. A survey of 1745 refers to the ‘port rings’ as being in need of repair, and it possible that they were removed during that process, which would date the painting after 1745. In the first half of the eighteenth century a carved lion was the figurehead for almost all warships except the large first and second rates. But the figurehead of the Dublin was referred to as a ‘group’ in June 1749. This is consistent with the painting, which shows a lion with its head facing backwards and a figure (perhaps a cherub) behind, with an indistinct carving on the centre line of the ship.


Apart from that we only have occasional glimpses of the ship. In 1737 a total of £5.19.5 was spent on paint supplied by Mr John Normandy and Mrs Elizabeth Smith at Portsmouth. The largest single amounts were 40 pounds of red, 18 of yellow and 16 of pearl, all ‘ground in oil.’ And in 1733 the cost of 15 shillings for a piece of stone ground glass measuring 21 by 13 inches for the stateroom of the Dublin generated some paperwork.


The Lord Lieutenants

As her name implies the Dublin was designed to carry the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, often known as the Viceroy, who was the British sovereign’s representative and an important figure in the government of the island under British rule. He had to deal with the Irish Parliament, elected mainly by protestant landowners. He was usually a major politician and a senior aristocrat. During the period in question the Viceroys were as follows, with comments from the Dictionary of Irish Biography;


Lionel Sackville, 1st Duke of Dorset (1730-7 and 1750-5), a particular favourite of George I and holder of many important offices during his long career.


William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire (1737-45) who held the office for the longest continuous period during the century. ‘Devonshire’s appointment to high office arose from his name and social position rather than from any special ability, and he inclined more to pleasure than to business; his drinking even in a tolerant age, was considered notable.’


Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1745-6). ‘Chesterfield made an immediate impression as lord lieutenant. He enjoyed the responsibility and insisted on overseeing many of the administrative details himself.’ He had empathy with the Catholic population which helped prevent the Jacobite rising spreading from Scotland to Ireland but he left after a few months due to ill health.


William Stanhope, 1st Earl of Harrington (1746-50), a kinsman of Chesterfield. ‘The principal political drama of his viceroyalty revolved around Charles Lucas, the ‘patriot’ apothecary’ who prompted a brief display of unity between Dublin Castle [the residence of the viceroy] and the Irish Parliament as they mobilised in order to crush a dangerous demagogue.’


The main function of the Dublin yacht was to transport the viceroy from mainland Britain to Dublin and back again – there is no sign that any of the viceroys enjoyed yachting for its own sake. The major passengers usually embarked and disembarked at Parkgate, a village on the north side of the Dee estuary  – though Lord Chesterfield left from Holyhead in 1745. The land trip by coach to and from the port would take about a week. On his return Chesterfield wrote to the Duke of Newcastle from Parkgate on 24 April 1746, ‘After a very good passage I am this moment landed here, from whence I set out to-morrow morning, and barring accidents hall kiss your hands on Thursday, May-day …’ but in this case he fell ill on the way.


The arrival of a new viceroy in Dublin was the subject of much ceremony. The press reported in September 1746,


Tuesday his Excellency the Earl of Harrington, Lord Lieutenant of this Kingdom, arrived from England. His Excellency was received at his Landing by their Excellencies the Lords Justices, the Right Hon. The Lord Mayor, Aldermen, recorder, and sheriffs of the City. The Foot Forces [infantry] on Duty here, lined the streets through which his Excellency, attended by a Regiment of Horse, the Castle Ax Guards, and the State Officers, proceeded to the Castle … After which the Great Guns in the Park were fired and answered by volleys from the regiments on Duty here, which were drawn out upon College Green.


On his arrival a year earlier, Chesterfield complained of being ‘stunned as I am with the noise of cannon, drums and trumpets’.



The Dublin’s captain in the early period was Henry Lawton who was with the yacht from 1711 until his death in April 1734. He had overseen her conversion to three-masted ship rig at Portsmouth in 1732 and Captain Christopher Pocklington, who reported his death to the Admiralty, coveted the post but instead it was given to John Weller. He would continue to command her for all the period in question.


Weller, ‘an experienced commander, a well-bred gentleman’ was born in 1688 at Deal in Kent and had been in the navy since 1700. He had just been appointed to command the 60-gun Centurion but was sent to the yacht instead. His patron Sir Charles Wager, the First Lord of the Admiralty, assured him that ‘such removal would not prejudice his pretentions to being promoted in the Navy’ but that proved otherwise - in 1744 he complained that he had not been promoted by seniority to rear-admiral as he felt was his due.


He arrived at Parkgate to take command at the beginning of June 1734.  He suffered from ill health, which cannot have helped his prospects. In 1744 he reported, ‘I was then so very ill of the stone and gravel, my physician advised me by no means to get out of my bed or room in danger of an ulcer in my bladder and not able to bear even the shaking of a Sedan chair and having voided blood several time with the utmost anguish and pain.’ He endured without anaesthetic ‘one of the severest operations perhaps in all surgery’ but apparently its success was limited. In December 1749 he suffered from a ‘great cold, which brought on a severe fit of the gravel and stone’. That was not his only trouble. In December 1744 he asked for leave to give evidence on behalf of a daughter (one of his eleven children) ‘who is married to a gentleman in this country [Ireland] who hath endeavoured to murder her two or three times …’


Officers and Crew

After the new masts were fitted in 1732 Captain Lawson consulted the sailmaker of Portsmouth Yard about how many men were needed for a warship of comparable rig and found that the answer was 80.  Rather moderately he asked the Admiralty for an increase from 40 to 50 for the Dublin and that was granted. That included the captain, and the standard set of warrant officers – master in charge of sailing and navigation, a boatswain for crew discipline, a gunner and a carpenter to maintain the hull, and a surgeon.


In 1746 the officers were no healthier than Weller himself, and he complained, ‘I humbly beg you will please to move their Lordships [of the Admiralty] that I have never an officer that I can confide in [ie am confident with], my master being very lame, my boatswain can neither write nor read and my gunner always ailing.’ The surgeon was ‘a weakly, sickly man.’ The Dublin did not offer the prospect of glory and prize money from active naval service, nor the glamour of the royal yachts proper which carried the King and his courtiers. It was apparently used to provide mild duty as a reward for worthy but ineffective officers. However by 1749 the new master was ‘a very sober, careful man’ who was to be trusted to command the yacht while Weller was ill.


In August 1744 she had the full 50 men on board including eight officers, 39 petty officers and able seamen and only three ordinary seamen. That was far more skilled men than a typical ship of the period, so the crew was something of an elite, if perhaps somewhat aged. Weller was generally supportive of his crew and often asked the Admiralty to support them, or to pay them when the money was even more delayed than usual, but like all yachts’ crews they were prone to smuggling. Four men were discharged for it in March 1739, and for passing small denominations of counterfeit money. Weller however defended his men in 1736 when it was found that they had 200 pounds of soap. It was ‘only for their own use on board, it being but 6 pounds a man, which will be used in a few weeks in shaving and washing’ – an unusually high standard of cleanliness for seamen of the time.



As well as the viceroy himself, the yacht might carry various aristocrats and dignitaries. In 1748 for example, she took Frances Palmer and his wife and family from Dublin in February then the Earl of Meath and family in the opposite direction; Henry Brooke ‘with family, servants and necessaries’ from Dublin in March; the Lord Lieutenant himself from Dublin in April; the [Protestant] Bishop of Derry from Dublin in June; Admiral Sir William Rowley the same way in July, followed by Simon Luttrell, then Lord and Lady Petersham in the opposite direction. She took Lady Middleton eastwards in August, then took the Petershams back to England in September, followed by an easterly passage for the Earl of Darnley, then General Gervais Parker also from Dublin. She took the Earl of Blessington in the same direction in October, and the Earl of Kildare in November, and Lord Hillsborough later in the month. There was no demand for her services during December.


The Dublin carried 111 official or ‘warrant’ passengers in 15 voyages during 1738, eleven of them from Dublin to Parkgate. There is evidence that many more were carried unofficially, particularly during the voyage from Parkgate to Dublin when the yacht would otherwise often be empty. There was prestige in using such a vessel, the accommodation was very good, the captain was safe and reliable and the crew was several times larger than a merchant ship of similar size.


George Pakenham boarded the yacht at Parkgate in October 1737, with Lord and Lady Buttevant, who were saluted with eight guns and paid 12 guineas for the use of the state cabin, while Pakenham paid one guinea for himself and a servant. There was ‘very fine accommodation on board’ but there was ‘no other company of fashion’. They hit bad weather and Pakenham reported, ‘A great sea came rolling down which wet me in my bed’ while the Buttevants were ‘both very much frighted and sick.’ Weller landed his passengers at Holyhead to get the regular packet boat; according to Pakenham, 200 persons were landed.


Ports and Harbours

Her eastern base was at Parkgate, an important staging post for traffic to Ireland, designated by the government for carrying mail and dignitaries. According to Pakenham in 1737 it was ‘a small village close by the seaside, where the passage ships for Dublin always lie. Subsists only by travellers. 12 or 14 sail of good vessels constantly employed.’  It could be used for minor repairs. In 1735 Weller produced an estimate for cleaning the bottom of the Dublin at Parkgate where there were ‘very good ways’ for holding her as the tide went out. This included just over £2 each for tallow, rosin and labour, to a total of just over £9. It seems to have become quite common after that.  In 1744 he reported, ‘Upon searching our bottom when dry at Parkgate found our seams very open and the stuff quite off have been obliged to caulk her bottom and upper works and pay her again with white graving as usual …’


Larger work had to be done at one of the Royal Dockyards, mostly Plymouth before the re-masting of 1732 and Portsmouth after that.  In June 1745 the officers of Portsmouth yard found that some of the knees which linked the deck beams to the sides needed replacing, as did much of the internal planking. Externally, two strakes of plank next to the keep were to be replaced, one past of the thicker plank known as the wale, and three planks above it. In addition, ‘all the channels, head, stern, badges on the quarters, port rings, sheer rails, carved work and joiners work to be repaired.’


Weller did not like Holyhead, ‘being a hard sand and dry harbour and whenever the wind comes to the [West-northwest] and [East northeast makes a great swell …’


The Dublin usually took the dignitaries up to the quays of Dublin to disembark them. When not in service she was often moored at Poolbeg, then an anchorage in the main channel of the River Liffey. In 1744 Weller complained, ‘… Poolbeg is so racked up that there is but one place that has 12 foot water at low water and spring tides and the channel so narrow that one of the 20-gun ships would scarce have room to swing without grounding.’


The Voyage

Captain Weller usually waited a few days for suitable weather to take his passengers over. In September 1749, ‘His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant came to Parkgate, the wind from the [South to South southeast] moderate but very uncertain weather, did not think it proper to go to sea …’ Chesterfield had ‘the best sea passage possible’ in August 1745. According to the ship’s log, At ½ past 5 saluted his Excellency with 13 guns at his coming into the town [Holyhead]. At 8 pm came aboard, at 10 sailed, at 11 am landed his excellency and saluted with 13 guns’ – an overnight passage of 13 hours.


A typical voyage is described by Weller in October 1744


Please to communicate to their Lordships that on the 29th past at 2 in the afternoon I sailed with his Majesty’s yacht the Dublin under my command, by order of their Excellencies the Lords Justices of Ireland with the Right Honourable the Lord Bishop of Kildare and family, John Potter esq and family and 20 soldiers, the wind at [South-west] or [West-northwest] and moderate. At 6 in the evening Howth [West by north] distance 5 leagues and then lost sight of it; at 10 saw Skerries Light bearing [East by south] distance 5 leagues; at 10 in the morning lay to under our topsails, wind [West northwest], the Ormes Head [South-southeast] distance 4 miles; at 8 in the morning of the 30th bore away, wind [West southwest], at 2 got over Chester Bar, and at 9 the 1st inst [ie October] landed them at Parkgate and am to return the first opportunity of wind and weather …


But there was no reliable means of weather forecasting and Weller was caught out in 1745.


… at 7 Holyhead [East by south] distance 8 leagues and we lay by under our topsails to wait for the tide, Priestholm [South-south east] distance four leagues and the wind increasing at [south west by south] at 3 in the morning handed the topsails and lay under a mainsail, at 6 handed the mainsail and lay ahull it blowing a storm, the wind from [South-west] to [West North-west]. At ½ past 9 bore away under our bare poles, the Orme’s Head [South by west] distance 2 leagues, at 11 set our foresail reefed and saw Chester Bar and at 8 landed them at Parkgate and arranged return the first opportunity of wind and weather.


Other Duties

Though the Lord Lieutenant (or in his absence the Lord Justices of Ireland) gave orders for the carriage of passengers, the yacht was still under the command of the Lords of the Admiralty, who demanded maximum use of her. War with Spain began in 1739, but France was closer and had a much more powerful fleet, and war was declared in 1744. The Dublin was involved in stopping and searching vessels suspected to be enemy merchantmen, though Weller complained, when ordered to give sailing instructions for vessels bound for Dublin, he protested that they would ‘expect another time which may be a hindrance … when people of rank are on board.’


Weller was also involved in the pressing of seamen, as were all the naval yachts. In 1740 he was ordered to set up a ‘rendezvous’ or recruiting station in Dublin, though he pointed out that it would have to be closed when he was away as none of his officers was competent to run it.  Nevertheless in March 1741 he reported that he had recruited 40 seamen, eight of them volunteers, the rest pressed men; and in December 1744 he put 11 pressed men and a landsman on board the 44-gun Pearl. In wartime the ship commonly carried 20 soldiers to protect the passengers from enemy attack. In April 1744, while transporting the Lord Lieutenant himself, she carried ’32 soldiers, the officers included’ and then returned them to Dublin.


Captain Weller retired in 1751 to be replaced by his son, also John; he did better than his father in that he eventually made the rank of rear-admiral, though only on the retired list. Meanwhile the Dublin was broken up in 1752; she was 43 years old, well beyond the average life of a ship of the period. She was replaced by a new yacht, originally called the Dorset (presumably after the current viceroy) but was later known as the Dublin. She was the first design by Thomas Slade who would eventually design HMS Victory and many other ships.



The most useful sources are the letters of Captains Lawton and Weller in the National Archives (ADM 1/2038, 1/2651-2658). Normally a captain would send his reports to the admiral, who would summarise them before sending them on to the Admiralty in London, but the captains of the Dublin were directly under Admiralty orders, so their letters have been preserved intact.


The ADM 106 of letters to the Navy Board series is well catalogued and contains a number of references to the yacht’s maintenance history. The originals have been looked at in some cases


Three plans of the yacht have been seen in the collection of the National Maritime Museum (NPD 0981, 0981, 0983)


Charnock’s Biographia Navalis of 1797 for biographies of the captains.


The Private Correspondence of Chesterfield and Newcastle, 1744-46, ed Richard Lodge, Camden Society vol XLIV, 1930


Parkgate Society website


Dictionary of Irish Biography, online edition


G W Place, Parkgate and the Royal Yachts. Passenger Traffic between the North West and Dublin in the Eighteenth Century in Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire


Analecta Hibernia vol XV, 1944, p 114 ff, for Pakenham’s voyage


Report by Brian Lavery, naval historian and Curator Emeritus at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.








1681 - London - 1749


The paintings of Peter Monamy provide an accurate record of maritime history during the first half of the eighteenth century. His early style was considerably influenced by Willem van de Velde the Younger (1633-1707), some of whose works he copied.


Born in London in 1681, the youngest son of a Guernseyman, Monamy was apprenticed to William Clarke, a member of the Painter Stainers’ Company; he became a Freeman of the Company in 1704. His professional training was in house decoration and comprised the decoration of ceilings, painting canvases for wall panels, sign painting and gilding.


In 1736 Monamy, together with William Hogarth and Francis Hayman, were commissioned to assist in the decorations of the newly-opened pleasure gardens at Vauxhall; all four of his paintings were subsequently engraved. Encouraged by Hogarth, Monamy also produced a major port scene for Thomas Coram’s Foundling Hospital (whereabouts now unknown).


Monamy painted storms, calms, Thames views and naval actions, working on canvas, panel and copper; he also etched and engraved. George Vertue noted with approval Monamy’s ‘constant practice….his industry and understanding in the forms and buildings of shipping with all the tackles, ropes and sails….his neatness and clean pencilling of sky and water….his many excursions to the coasts and seaports of England to improve himself from nature’.


Monamy produced work for the Royal Family, for the aristocracy and gentry (including the Byngs, a powerful naval family), for City merchants and livery halls. Taking up a tradition which he had inherited from the Dutch painters, the van de Veldes, Monamy nurtured an English school of marine painting and paved the way for Charles Brooking, Nicholas Pocock and later artists. His daughter married the marine painter Francis Swaine and his grandson was another marine artist, Monamy Swaine.


The work of Peter Monamy is represented in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich; the National Gallery, Dublin; the City Art Gallery, Glasgow; the Painter Stainers’ Company, London; the National Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.




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