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Admiral Henry Duncan Grant (1834-1896): Journal when Third Lieutenant on HMS Pearl with the Central American Squadron 1855-1857

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9531

Scope and Contents

A daily journal kept on board HMS Pearl, December 1855 - August 1857, 234 pages. The daily journal begins with the ship’s fitting out and victualing at Woolwich and Spithead and later participation in the grand naval review at Portsmouth before Queen Victoria on 23 April 1856, on the occasion of the end of the Crimean War. The journal covers the voyage to Central America, where the Pearl cruised northwards from Panama to the coasts of Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Guatemala and southwards to Peru. The Pearl’s main task appears to have been to keep a watching eye on political and military developments in the region. In addition to a record of shipboard routine Grant provides descriptions of the places visited together with sketches and watercolours. In April 1857 the Pearl sailed to Hong Kong, where it received orders to proceed to Calcutta with HMS Shannon, to assist with the suppression of the Indian mutiny. The journal ends with the arrival of the Pearl in Calcutta in August, 1857. At the end of the volume are a series of transcripts relating to the Grand Naval Review, the Treaty of Peace signed in Paris in 1856 and other documents.
A detailed list of entries with dates follows: ship’s commissioning, fitting and victualing, Woolwich and Spithead, December 1855 – April 1856; description of the grand naval review before Queen Victoria, 23 April 1857, pp. 41-44; orders to prepare for foreign service, 10 May; voyage via Madeira, Rio de Janeiro, the Straits of Magellan, Valparaiso and Callao to Panama, arriving 17 October 1857; description of a trip across the Isthmus of Panama by railway — flora and topography, 24 October; voyage up the coast of Central America to join HMS Monarch and to ascertain the movements of General Walker ‘with his filibustering expedition’ (p.115) 27 October; Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Guatemala with descriptions of coastal settlements and topography; orders to sail to Callao, on the coast of Peru, late January 1857, account of naval battle between rival Peruvian forces, pp. 152- 57; voyage to the Sandwich Islands and China, April 1857; visiting Honolulu (p.187); thence to Hong Kong, arriving 19 June for coaling and re-victualing; on 15 July received orders to provision for five months and accompany HMS Shannon to Calcutta, arriving 11 August; 13 August employed supplying the Shannon with ammunition, shot and shell for the use of the naval brigade to be sent to Delhi; last entry 31 August 1857.
At the end of the journal the following hand written transcripts; ‘Appendix’ with details of the grand naval review; copy of the Treaty of Paris, dated 1 March 1857; copy of order from the London Gazette allowing British naval officers to wear the French Legion of Honour together with list of such officers; list of Peruvian officers belonging to the war steamers Loa and Lumbes borne on the books of the Pearl; copy of prayer of thanksgiving used in the United Kingdom upon the end of the war with Russia; note on the Chinese war.

The following is a list of drawings, sketches and watercolours from the journal:
p. 1 Sketch of HMS Pearl
p. 2 Transverse section of HM Screw Steamship “Pearl”
p. 3 Sections of the upper and lower decks
p. 4 Plan and sections of the holds, engine and store rooms
p. 5 Midship section and body plan
p. 13 Drawing of Clifford’s Apparatus for lowering boats
p. 34 Pen and ink drawing of statues representing Peace and War
p. 43 Plan of the anchorage and manoeuvres at the Grand Naval Review, 23.4.1857
p. 46 Ink and watercolour sketch of the review of the fleet by Queen Victoria
p. 47 Pen and ink drawing of HM gunboat ‘Thistle'
p. 52 Drawing of Griffith’s Patent Screw Propeller
p. 53 Ink and watercolour sketch of the royal yacht ‘Victoria and Albert’ and others
p. 64 Coastal profiles of Madeira
p. 65 Ink and watercolour sketch of Funchal harbour, Madeira, with ships at anchor
p. 75 Ink and watercolour sketch of the city of Sebastian, Rio de Janeiro
p. 77 Sketches of the island of Mucanzu
p. 78 Views of Rio from Mucanzu
p. 79 Watercolour view of the entrance to Rio de Janeiro
p. 80 More views of the coastal topography of Rio
p. 86 Coastal profiles of the Straits of Magellan
p. 87 The same p. 89 Pen and ink sketch of Port Gallant
p. 90 Watercolour sketch of the passage round Cape Froward
p. 92 Coastal profile of the entrance to Long Reach
p. 94 Watercolour sketch of the glacier at Marian Cove, Croker Peninsula
p. 114 Sketch of the Panama railroad
p. 116 Coastal profiles of the Gulf of Nicoya, Costa Rica
p. 119 The same
p. 120 The same
p. 124 Watercolour sketch of the coastal volcanoes of Guatemala
p. 125 The same
p. 128 Watercolour sketch of the town of Conchagua in the Gulf of Fonseca
p. 129 Coastal profile of the Gulf of Fonseca
p. 142 Pen and ink drawing of the U.S. mail ship John L. Stephens, 3000 tons
p. 154 Drawing of screw propeller and frame for raising it
p. 158 Watercolour sketch of naval battle between rival Peruvian vessels at Callao
p. 187 Coastal profile of the Sandwich Islands


  • Creation: 1855 - 1857


Conditions Governing Access


Biographical / Historical

Henry Duncan Grant (1834-1896) was born on 12 October 1834, the son of John Grant, paymaster, R.N. He entered the navy in 1847, and was made lieutenant in 1855. From December 1855 to August 1857 he served on H.M. Screw Steamship Pearl, a newly commissioned vessel of 21 guns, 1462 tons and 250 crew. Thereafter, he served with the Pearl's naval brigade in Bengal during 1858.
Grant was promoted to the rank of captain on 30 September 1864, and between 1870 and 1878 commanded, in turn, the Serapis, Triumph, Aurora, Narcissus and the Duke of Wellington. He was made a C.B. in 1875, and from 1878 until his death he was an assessor under the Merchant Shipping Act, 1876. He was an Aide de Camp to Queen Victoria, 1879-1881, and was promoted to Rear Admiral in January 1881. Grant was Admiral Superintendent of Devonport Dockyard, 1885-1888, and was promoted to Vice-Admiral in 1888, and full Admiral in 1892.
Grant was also a vice president of the National Temperance League.
He died at Coombe Lodge, Liss near Southampton on 8 November 1896.


0.01 cubic metre(s) (1 journal)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Julian Browning, 4 November 1998.

Jonathan Spain
28 June 2002
Description rules
International Standard for Archival Description - General
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Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
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Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom