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Scottish, circa 1814
H.6.5” (16cm) W.8.” (21cm) D. 4” (10cm)
Stock No. 8688
Following the sinking of ‘The Thames’ in January 1815, William Martin became master of ‘The Venus’, one of the Edinburgh, Glasgow and Leith Shipping Company’s London Smacks and was mentioned as such in newspaper and almanack records in both 1819 and 1824-5. ‘The Venus’ was advertised in the Glasgow Herald in 1819 ‘…to be unrivalled in comfort and convenience by any vessel which has yet been fitted up for the conveyance of passengers’. Smacks were large and beautiful Cutters, carrying a huge amount of sail fore and aft that would help them achieve considerable speeds. In 1820, Mr Martin was immortalised in a song written by a passenger to celebrate ‘The Venus’ following a journey he had taken. The final verse says:
‘My worthy mess-mates, all, farewell!
May never woe your hearts assail,
Nor pains your bodies rack;
And should we meet again at sea,
May Martin* still our Captain be
On board the Venus Smack’
* Mr William Martin, Captain of the Venus, than whom the Company have not a more civil, sober, nor deserving officer in their employ.’
The Leith Trafalgar Society may well be a reference to Freemasonry, following the establishment of a new Lodge by Masonic Brethren shortly after the Battle of Trafalgar. It was opened on 8th February 1808 in a house in Rotten Row, Leith. Houses were so large and impressive in this particular area of Edinburgh that the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots – Mary of Lorraine – even chose to have a royal house built there in the 16th century. Although the lodge fell dormant between 1837 and 1858, it reopened in February 1859 in the New Ship Hotel, Leith, moving periodically until its present address in Trafalgar Hall, St Anthony Place.