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Naval Palavers with the Rulers of Ras-al-Kaimah, Sharjah, and Abu Dhabi

[Arabian Gulf Navigation - Trucial States]. The original naval diaries kept on board of HMS Ready and other ships by the Royal Navy Engineer Edward Leigh Carte (1838-1911). Autograph manuscripts.

Arabia, Persia, Burma, Egypt, Eastern Mediterranean and other places, 1867-1882.

8vo. 2 vols. (146) pp. (169) pp. + (31) pp. of financial records; numerous relevant contemporary newspaper clippings tipped in or mounted. Original full cloth ("Renshaws' Diary" for 1867) and original half cloth notebook with orange marbled covers.

Extremely rare mid-Victorian document of Royal Navy service in the Arabian Gulf, as well as in West Africa, India, and the Suez Canal. The two journals provide disciplined, informative and businesslike accounts of Carte's commissions on three ships, with details of his duties and the ships' missions, describing technical engineering problems, inspections, constant cleaning, accidents, punishments, and shore leave. Few such accounts, providing a detailed picture of the day-to-day service of a 19th-century Royal Navy engineer, can have survived. Of special interest for providing an early in-detail account of navigating the Gulf coasts: after having sailed through the Red Sea via Jeddah and Aden, then "slowly along the Arabian coast to quell a disturbance between two Sheiks at a place called Al Kali", the HMS "Ready" anchored at Muscat in Oman. Departing on Jan 4th, 1880, the crew arrived at Bahrain at noon of the 13th. They then sailed along the north coast of the Gulf before returning to the pearl island on March 3rd, where they "painted [the] ship a light drab color according to new order from Admiralty". Three weeks later, the "Ready" left Bahrain "under steam and arrived at Sharjah 26th at 10 A.M. remained there untill 4 P.M. and proceeded under steam to Abu Thabi where we arrived at 2.15 P.M.

28th 5.40 P.M. left again as before for Sharjah arrived there at 9.15 A.M. 29th left Sharjah at 7.30 P.M. under steam for Ras el Keimah arrived there at 7.40 A.M.

30th had palaver with Sheikh [Humayd bin Abdullah Al Qasimi, d. 1900]". After cruising back and forth through the Arabian Gulf and overhauling the steam engine in Bombay, the "Ready" returned to Arabia in June "and proceeded at 10.30 A.M. for Shargur and Pirate Coast [...] called twice at Shargur and various other places." Late September sees the boat anchor "at Khasab inside the gulf at 11 A.M.", where those members of the crew not sick with fever engage in target practise. "7.30 P.M. proceeded from Khasab to Shargah, arrived off there at 1 P.M. of the 30th, Sheik [Salim bin Sultan al-Qasimi; d. 1919] came off, had a palaver and we proceeded again at 2.45 P.M. for Abu Dhabi 8.30 A.M. 31st, arrived there, communicated with the Sheik [Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, 1840-1909], and proceeded again for Al-Bidda at 52 Revolutions [...]". Back in Bahrain a short time later, many of the crew come down with the fever, including Carte himself.

Other stations of Carte's missions, vividly described by the diarist, include the shelling of a Yemeni fort, the landing of troops in Karachi in the Second Anglo-Afghan War, the passage of the "Ready" as "the first Man of War that ever came up the Irrawaddy" in Burma, the search for survivors of the Dutch steamer "Koning der Nederlanden" in the Indian Ocean, and the defence of the Suez Canal in the Anglo-Egyptian War of 1882, for the last of which actions the captain and his crew received commendations.

Edward Carte, born at Barton-upon-Humber, Lincolnshire, was educated in Hamburg and Antwerp until 1853, when he was sent to Scotland to learn the engineering trade. His first experience of the sea was on a ship belonging to his uncle, Joseph Gee of Hull. In 1861, following Gee's death, Carte entered the Royal Navy as Assistant Engineer. He was promoted to the rank of Engineer in 1868. Three vessels on which Carte did service feature in these journals - HMS Bristol (1867), HMS Greyhound (1867-69), and HMS Ready (1878-82), with deployments off West Africa and in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. During his career Carte served on at least twelve other ships, including HMS Mersey (1869-70, at Queenstown) and HMS Iron Duke (1871-74, during which time he was the engineer responsible for commissioning the engines). He married in 1863, had four children, and retired in 1888. He died at Southampton in 1911.

An outstanding, hitherto unknown and completely unpublished early source documenting the releationship of the British Empire with the so-called Trucial States shortly after the sheikhdoms along the southern Arabian coast allied themselves with the United Kingdom by the Perpetual Maritime Truce of 1853.