[ENGLISH CIVIL WAR]. The Declaration of the Sea Commanders and Marriners in the Royall Navie and Fleet, now with his Highnesse Prince Charles, riding on the Downes. (August 2.). Directed unto the Sea Commanders & Marriners in and about the City of London, and all other ports of this Kingdome. Sent in a Letter unto a Merchant of this City to be published. London: Printed in the Yeare, 1648.
Small 4to., (6 x 8 inches). The title-page decorated with a border of British Crown, scottish thistle, English rose and Irish harp woodblocks (browned and a bit dusty throughout). Modern tan calf backed blue paper boards, gilt.
An appeal from Royalist Naval officers, stationed with Prince Charles (later King Charles II) at the Downs anchorage in Kent, to their London colleagues.
Throughout the 1640s, civil war between Charles I and Parliament had ravaged England. The navy had remained loyal to Parliament throughout the First Civil War but during the spring of 1648, while King Charles I was a prisoner on the Isle of Wight, a number of rebellions against Parliament broke out around the country. With naval support, insurgents in Kent secured the artillery forts that guarded the Downs anchorage, then laid siege to Dover Castle. "The mutineers sent a declaration to the Admiralty commissioners in London justifying their actions and calling for Parliament to make a personal treaty with the King, disband the Army and return to traditional forms of government...Sensing an opportunity to rekindle the civil war, Prince Charles left his court-in-exile at St Germain near Paris early in July 1648 and hurried to Helvoetsluys to take personal command of the ships that had defected to the King's cause. He was accompanied by his brother James, Duke of York, Prince Rupert and other senior Royalists...With supplies provided by Prince William of Orange, the Royalist fleet sailed from the Netherlands on 17 July and arrived off Yarmouth in Norfolk on 22 July. Prince Charles hoped to incite a Royalist insurrection in East Anglia, but found the region to be firmly under Parliamentarian control. The following day, he sailed for the Downs anchorage in Kent from where he issued a proclamation calling upon the rest of the navy to declare for the King. The Prince's ships began seizing merchant shipping in the Channel, a move calculated to force London shipowners to increase the pressure on Parliament to reach a settlement with the King...Parliament was slow to respond to the appearance of the Prince's fleet because many shipowners and dockyard officials were reluctant to help in fitting out an expedition to sail against it. The powerful corporation of Trinity House declared that a personal treaty between the King and Parliament was a better solution to the crisis. Parliament's Lord-Admiral the Earl of Warwick could not find enough recruits so he resorted to press gangs to man his ships. It was not until the end of August 1648 that Warwick had eleven ships ready to sail from London. He sent orders to the six ships of the Portsmouth squadron to join him in the Thames.
"The Prince's fleet remained in the Downs but morale was low. When news arrived of the defeat of the Engagers at the battle of Preston and the surrender of the Royalist garrisons at Deal and Colchester, Charles and his council decided to return to the Netherlands. The crews protested, insisting that they should sail into the Thames and either fight Warwick's fleet or persuade it to defect. On 29 August, Prince Charles' flagship the Constant Reformation set a course for the Netherlands, but crews of several of the other ships defied their officers and sailed for the Thames estuary. The Prince had no choice but to follow, despite the unease of the Royalist leaders. As the fleet sailed into the Thames, Warwick's ships were sighted sailing downriver. The two fleets anchored for the night about a league apart. On 30 August, manoeuvres were prevented by bad weather; on 31 August, the Royalists made their way downriver with Warwick following at a safe distance, showing no inclination to fight. The Prince's fleet continued sailing towards the Netherlands and during the night passed close by the Portsmouth squadron making its way to join forces with Warwick" (David Plant, The Naval Revolt, 1648, BCW Project online). The wars finally ended in 1651 with the flight of Charles II to France and, with him, the hopes of the British monarchy. ESTC R204963.