ME808 - A Survey of Part of the Gulf of Persia
A previously unpublished Survey of those places visited by His Majesty's sloop Sapphire on the coast of Persia near the Straights of Hormuz.
- Lieut. David Ewan Bartholomew
- h17" x w23"
This historic survey was drawn as part of the British effort to control and subdue interference with their shipping in the Gulf region which, by 1808, had emerged as a major threat to British trade interests in the region. Both the Honourable East India Company Marine Service, known as the 'Bombay Marine', supplemented by troops drawn from India and the Royal Navy, were involved in the effort to eradicate the threat.
Up to 1808 the entire Gulf region had hardly been surveyed, certainly to this standard, which makes this is one of the earliest charts of the region. Even by the end of 1811 Commodore John Wainwright, the expeditionary force commander of the first major campaign in the Gulf region, reported that the available charts of the Gulf remained inaccurate and incomplete such that the pirate vessels were able to remain hidden in uncharted harbours and coves.
From the inscription on the chart, which lists HMS Sapphire as the survey vessel responsible for the soundings and geography presented on the chart, it is more than likely that Lieutenant David Ewan Bartholomew drew the chart. He was transferred to HMS Sapphire in 1808 and remained with her through until July 1809.
Bartholomew was in-himself a fascinating and celebrated individual who, quite exceptionally for the time, rose from an impressed sailor to Post Captain. He has been described as one of the unsung heroes of the surveying service. He is also, reputedly, the real-life inspiration behind an episode in the second of Patrick O'Brian's fictional novels; 'Post Captain'.
The Chart is drawn with a beautiful title cartouche indicating a degree of pride in his work on the part of the artist. The detailed hydrographic information provided includes: tides, depths, compass variants, anchorages, the use of standard symbols for hidden rocks and reefs and shoals; all of which indicate a skill and professionalism worthy of a trained hydrographer such as Bartholomew. The overall effect, including the naming of towns, settlements and ports along the shore-lines and the (again, standard) method of depicting high-ground and relief, along with a hint of blue along the water-line, and silver in the title, make for a very attractive and informative chart.
The sloop Sapphire entered the Gulf shortly after, as part of a small convoy accompanying HMS Nereide which was commanded by the infamous Captain Robert Corbet. Corbet was a strict disciplinarian whose brutal regime on-board his ships included frequent, almost ritual, beatings of his men. He holds the dubious honour of provoking two mutinies, one simply at the rumour he was coming aboard a ship! In addition, Corbet was regarded as an inefficient commander, whose standards of gunnery and training were so poor that when his ship did go into action it was ill-equipped to fight efficiently. His poor leadership was evident when, leading the Sapphire and her sister sloop HMS Sylph into the gulf, he abandoned both of the sloops because they could not keep up with the Nereide in his mission to deliver a new ambassador to Persia. By the time he returned, HMS Sylph had been captured and all of her crew massacred.
The campaign, which saw naval raids against the principle pirate bases in the area of the Straits of Hormuz, beginning with Ras al-Khaimah to the north, was a great success. It reduced the French, and other political influences in the region, from encouraging attacks on British shipping. Unfortunately, with the withdrawal of Royal Navy and some HEIC forces, due to other commitments in 1811, attacks resumed.
Bartholomew's work was published in 1810.
- A Survey of Part of the Gulf of Persia