The following description of the condition of England’s Great Britain’s navy during the late seventeenth century comes from the third chapter of the first volume of Macaulay’s History of England from the Accession of James IIGeorge P. Landow

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he charge of the English ordnance in the seventeenth century was, as compared with other military and naval charges, much smaller than at present. At most of the garrisons there were gunners: and here and there, at an important post, an engineer was to be found. But there was no regiment of artillery, no brigade of sappers and miners, no college in which young soldiers could learn the scientific part of the art of war. The difficulty of moving field pieces was extreme. When, a few years later, William marched from Devonshire to London, the apparatus which he brought with him, though such as had long been in constant use on the Continent, and such as would now be regarded at Woolwich as rude and cumbrous, excited in our ancestors an admiration resembling that which the Indians of America felt for the Castilian harquebusses. The stock of gunpowder kept in the English forts and arsenals was boastfully mentioned by patriotic writers as something which might well impress neighbouring nations with awe. It amounted to fourteen or fifteen thousand barrels, about a twelfth of the quantity which it is now thought necessary to have in store. The expenditure under the head of ordnance was on an average a little above sixty thousand pounds a year.


Macaulay, Thomas Babington. The Project Gutenberg EBook of The History of England from the Accession of James II. 5 vol. Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, n.d. The Project Gutenberg EBook #1468. Produced by Ken West and David Widger. Web. 12 July 2018.

Last modified 12 Jult 2018