these ships in our era can, of course, be found in the Wynne Dairies: the dairies of the Wynne sisters, Elizabeth (Betsy) and Eugenia.
This book makes for fascinating reading, as Betsy married Thomas Fremantle, a captain in Nelson's navy in 1797 , from Sir William and Lady Hamilton's house in Naples and lived with him on ship for long periods of time . She must have had many a simlar experince to Sophie Croft, who while giving us little snippets again does not give us all the detail we nosy people now require ;-)
She writes of everyday life , the accommodations on board ship and also give us details of men being flogged, taking prizes and dealing with her injured husband and Nelson.
To give you a flavour of the diary( which I highly reccommend for it involves not only naval matters but high society back in England, as well as more mundane details of Betsy running her husbands estate and bringing up their children while he returned to serve on sea) I have to say that I really like Betsy: as a 17 year old new bride she copes with god grace and humour with frightening experiences, with little female companionship to support her . I shall, with your indulgence, post some of the entries that have some relevance to our Sophies experience ;-)
INCONSTANT.Monday, January 15th 1796 :(3 days after her wedding-JW)
We sailed last night, had fair weather and pretty good wind all day. I find it quite odd to be alone here. I dare not think on those I left at Naples for it makes my heart swell with anguish, however I can make no complaints for I am as happy in my situation as it is possible to be. Fremantle is all attention and kindness. I have got a comfortable little cabin where I can do what I like. The Vice Roy and Colonel Drinkwater are a pleasant society for us.
Wednesday January 25th 1797:
....The weather was bad and in general this a dismal day and unlucky, last night the ships company all got drunk and behaved horridly ill.Much flogging this morning which made Ffremantle ill and broke my heart, I could distinctly hear the poor wretches cry out for mercy, from the cabin. A man broke his leg. After all this misery I was glad to get out of the ship and went over to the town.
Tuesday January 26th.
A court Martial to try three Marines of this ship. The weather so bad that I could not go on shore,stayed quietly on board with Fremantle who spent the evening with me...
Saturday January 28th:
I was qutie miserable all the morning as the three mariners were punished and flogged aong side of every ship,some men flogged likewise on board.
February: Friday and Saturday
Continually in chase but did not take anything. I find time passes very quick and I like being at sea almost beter than Proto Ferrajo. The honeymoon is over but it finished almost better than it began.. I flatter myself that the months that are to come will be all honeymoons for me.
Wednesday March 15th
I was very ill indeed all the morning and obliged to keep to my bed. We took a French boat going from Bastia to Leghorn with 90 people in her, some deserters of Dillon's corps and some Swiss...
Thursday March 16th.
It rained almsot incessantly and blew very hard it was lucky we were in harbour. Fremantle has fitted out two little cabins below where we sleep it is much better for me at sea on many accounts.
Tuesday March 21st.
We took a prize in the night a Spanish small ship with 9000 dollars who was going to Cicely (Sicily-JW) for corn. It blew very hard indeed and the motion so voilent that we sat in the cot all day,dined and supped in our cabin below. I walked the deck a little tho I was not at all sick as I had not slept all nght I was very stupid.
Thursday April 13th
Captain Hotham dined with us, he is returned from a cruize of three weeks and again took nothing but a chest or oranges, he is either very unlucky or very awkward.
As the convoy is so strong now Fremantle had my pianoforte put up in the cabin. Mr Brindley plays upon the fllute, not well but he understands musick.
A charming fair wind I have a bad cold I do nothing but sneeze all day. Captain Montresor shows me how to paint in water colours. Major Brindley accompanies me on the Flute every evening.
And yes, there were balls on board ship as Captain Wenworth attests(note, this extract from Betsy's dairy is from just before she married Fremantle):
Tuesday July 5th 1796. Captain Fremantle arrived early in the morning -he immediately sent to ask us to dine with him-he came himself to take us and we spent the day and evening with him on Board the Inconstant. The Ball we were to have yesterday he gave us today, the deck was most elegantly drest up and looked really like a charming large Ball room all the guns being removed. We had a lively gay dance. Mrs Polard Miss Wood and Miss Berry and we were the only ladies the gentlemen were in vast number. .....
I highly recommend this set of diaries to you all ;-)