2 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Capt. William Seely. He held three commands of fireships 1665-7 and was shot on board his own ship for cowardice in 1667.

L&M Companion

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

SEALE, or SAYLE, William,—is said, in the navy list, to have commanded the Spread Eagle, and Samuel, fireships, in 1665, and the Malaga Merchant in 1666, He is certainly the same person whose life has been already given under the name of Ceeley.

CEELEY, SEALE, or SEELEY, William,—is another of the very few persons, whose choice of a naval life is to be regretted by those who consider the conduct of an officer as the standard of honour. He was, in the year 1665, appointed commander of the Spread Eagle fireship; in the following year he was removed into the Samuel, a fireship also; and very soon afterwards into the Malaga Merchant. Fain would we draw a curtain over the remainder of his life, but that historical justice forbids us. On the 5th of February 1666-7, being in company with the Saint Patrick frigate, they fell in with two Dutch men of war off the North Foreland. The Saint Patrick, deserted by the Malaga Merchant, was captured, notwithstanding every possible exertion was made to preserve her, by captain Sanders, who was killed in defending her. An offence of such a complexion could not be expected to be passed over unnoticed, or unpunished. By a courtmartial, held on board the Warspight on the 27th of the same month, he was condemned to be shot: this sentence was carried into execution on the 5th of March, and, at his own particular request, on board the ship he had commanded. His firm behaviour at the last moment of his life, ill-agreed with what it had been at the fatal hour which brought him to to ignominious an end. It proved, that courage is almost undefineable; that the man whose spirit was unequal to the task of supporting him against the honourable risk only, in the service of his country, could, at another time, bear himself with decency and propriety, when the justice of that country consigned him to a certain and disgraceful death, for having either basely betrayed or deserted her. Such men would do well, ever to bear in mind the lines so characteristically put into the mouth of Cæsar, by the immortal Shakespear:

"Cowards die many times before their deaths;
"The valiant never taste of death but once."

---Biographia Navalis. J. Charnock, 1794.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.


  • Feb