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Details of baby born in 1837 on HMS Victory revealed

22 July 2019

Cheryl’s great-great-grandmother Mary Anne Gordon was born in November 1837.

Cheryl’s great-great-grandmother Mary Anne Gordon was born in November 1837.

This summer we’re sharing “wow” moments so imagine Portsmouth woman Cheryl Jewitt’s surprise when she made the intriguing discovery that her great-great-grandmother Mary Anne Gordon was the first recorded live birth on HMS Victory!

 

 

Cheryl’s great-great-grandmother Mary Anne Gordon was born in November 1837. Births on Victory were extremely rare, and this is rarer still as the birth certificate was completed just three months after they came in circulation. Log books of the time back up the claim.

Mary Anne’s father Henry was a cook on the ship, living onboard when Victory was moored in Portsmouth harbour as an accommodation ship. Crews weren’t allowed to leave the ship very regularly, so wives were welcomed onboard.
Cheryl was born and raised in Portsmouth and used to march to Victory as a cadet for the annual Trafalgar Day commemorations on October 21st.

She commented: “I feel very excited, and honoured, to have such a strong connection to the ship. When I was onboard I felt like I was walking in Mary Anne’s footsteps.”

Nigel Linger, Vice Chairman of the Portsmouth Royal Dockyard Historic Trust said: “Common phrases like son of a gun, show us a leg, derive from the time women were onboard the man-o-wars like Victory. If a mother was expecting a baby, the family onboard would usually get extra food.”

Cheryl, who is a member of the Royal Historical Trust, suspects that Henry was potentially on HMS Temeraire at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and will be researching this next.

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