The Battle of Leghorn: Overview

The battle took place on 14 March 1653 (4 March 1652 Old Style), during the First Anglo-Dutch War, in the waters off Livorno. It was a victory of a Dutch fleet under Commodore Johan van Galen over an English squadron under Captain Henry Appleton. Afterward an English fleet under Captain Richard Badiley, which Appleton had been trying to reach, approached but was outnumbered and fled.  Appleton’s squadron comprised two warships: the Bonaventure (44 guns) and Leopard (48), and four armed merchantmen: the Sampson (40), the Mary (30), the Peregrine (30) and the Levant Merchant (30). Badiley had four warships: the Paragon (52), the Phoenix (36), the Elizabeth (36), the Constant Warwick (32), four merchantmen (Mary Rose, Lewis, William and Thomas, and Thomas Bonaventure) and a fireship (Charity*).

Early in the engagement, Appleton’s leadship, the Bonaventure, was hit by a shot from Van Galen’s flagship, the Vereenigde Provincien, and exploded. The ship was destroyed, with only five men saved by the Dutch. Before that, the Bonaventure had fired and a shot hit Van Galen in the leg, resulting in its amputation. He died 9 days later in Livorno. The Leopard fought the Zon and Julius Caesar and inflicted heavy losses on them. The Maan fought and beat the Sampson, but a Dutch fireship came up on her disengaged side and burnt the Sampson. Both the Peregrine and Levant Merchant were captured. The Peregrine first lost her mainmast, shot by the Roode Haes and then was boarded by the Susanna but succeeded in in fighting her off. The Zwarte Arend eventually captured the Peregrine. The Levant Merchant sank her first opponent, the Madonna della Vigna, or at least run her ashore, north of the harbor mouth. The Maagd van Enkhuysen then attacked and took the Levant Merchant. The Leopard, Appleton’s flagship, was engaged by the Eendracht, and was eventually captured. All but fifty of her 200-man crew were killed or wounded before Appleton surrendered. He claimed that he wanted to blow up the ship, but was forced to surrender by his men. In the end, only the Mary, which was faster than the Dutch ships, escaped to join Badiley’s squadron. By the time Badiley’s squadron arrived, the battle was over. Badiley withdrew after a half-hearted exchange of gunfire. The Dutch ships were too badly damaged to pursue. Badiley returned to England with his remaining ships while Appleton spent two months as a prisoner of the Dutch before he was released on license to return home. Although Johan van Galen died of his wounds, his victory at Leghorn secured Dutch control of the Mediterranean and temporarily crippled England’s trade with the Levant.

* The fireship is listed as Charity in Mariner's Mirror vol. 49, but according to Mariner's Mirror 
vol. 24 that ship was expended during an action off Plymouth on 27 August 1652.
N.B. All dates are New Style.

The Peregrine: a hired merchantmen ship’s story and her Captain.

Using the Calendar of State Papers Domestic online and printed versions I have been able to find some interesting passages to delineate a short story of this ship and of her fate in Livorno. A data sheet for this merchantmen is available on the amazing Three Decks – Warships in the Age of Sail website.

1650, Sep 27

To the Commander of the Peregrine. To convoy the Richard, Patience, and Bonadventure, all of London, laden with merchant goods, to Bilboa, and back to the Thames.

1651, Feb 17

From Capt. Rich. Badiley and Jno. Tayler. Contract for hire of the Peregrine, 354 tons, 32 guns, for six months, at 350l. a month.

1651, May 8

List of men enlisted on board the Peregrine from 26 Feb. to 8 May.

1652-3 (Interregnum), Preface

Capt. Badiley, then at Porto Ferraro, exerted his utmost energies to strengthen his fleet by men and guns from the merchant ships (pp. 189, 201), and when the crisis arrived, he sailed out, plying near the imprisoned vessels, so as to succour them should they succeed in breaking through their formidable opponents (p. 195). The conflict took place on March 4th, but the issue was signally disastrous, for of the six ships which attempted to force their passage, only one escaped to join Badiley. The Bonadventure was blown up by the firing of her own powder; the Sampson was fired by a Dutch fire-ship; the Leopard, in which was Capt. Appleton, was surrendered by her crew, contrary to the will of the captain, who declared that though there was no hope of saving her, he would rather have blown her up than given her up; and the Peregrine and another were taken and burned (p. 214). Of their crews only 280 sound and 90 wounded men remained, and these were all turned adrift, without clothes and victuals, at Leghorn, where the English agent took them in charge, and sent most of them off to man the ships hiring in Venice for English service (pp. 223, 234, 284).

1652, Sep 17/27

127. Capt. Hen. Appleton to the Navy Committee. I gave you notice in my last of the death of Capt. Witheridge. I have given the command of the Bonadventure to Capt. Cox. The commanders of the Sampson and Mary will not go out with me, except they see an order from you to me to command them, but the masters of the Levant Merchant and Peregrine are willing to serve; they have not however 70 men belonging to them, and the danger will therefore be too great to go out without your order, or a squadron to free me and Capt. Badiley. The Hollanders add daily to their fleet, and are now above 20 sail. The Hunter, an English vessel here, has procured a pass from Van Gall, the Dutch commander, to go for Smyrna, and he has granted several English merchants here the like favour, on account of their being royalists. Nath. Reading has sent me 20 English mariners from Venice.

1652, Sep 20

130. Charles Longland to Col. George Thompson, Whitehall. Thanks for yours of 2 Aug., and promise of further correspondence. Since Parliament has made me their servant, they will advance their own interest in acquainting me with such affairs at first hand as may be made public; it will give me better access here to these Princes’ officers. They expect, and not without reason, that I should have better advice of public affairs than what comes weekly from the Exchange. What you have from Holland, that the Dutch make ships of war of their merchantmen, is true in all ports of Italy, and that their 14 sail are already grown to 20, and are to be made up to 25; but I hope a good fleet will be sent hither to prevent this mischief. According to orders from the Navy Committee, I often urged Capt. Appleton to appoint Capt. Badiley a rendezvous, but he would not stir without the merchantmen. While the 10 Dutch sail went out to fight Capt. Badiley, they left but 4 sail here to keep in all these ships, and it was a great shame that two such ships of the State should be kept in by 4 Dutch, who had not so many men as our two. The Peregrine and Levant Merchant, two of the merchant ships, proffered to go out with them likewise, but all would not do. These two commanders, Mr. Wood and Mr. Marsh, deserve to be looked upon at home, for their readiness to do the State service.

1652, Sep 27

From Capt. Rich. Badiley, Leghorn. Sends copy of an agreement between Charles Longland, agent at Leghorn, and John Wood, for the hire of the Peregrine for the service for six months.

1652, Oct 22-Nov 1

24. Capt. Henry Appleton to the [Navy Committee]. Thanks for remembering our poor seamen who are so needful of clothes; we will distribute the money proportionably amongst our three ships, and give Mr. Longland bills upon you for the clothes, &c. I will advise with him as to what is best for the preservation of our ships, for I see no probability that Capt. Badiley and I should join our squadrons, until you send us a stronger fleet, the Dutch having 26 great ships and one fire-ship. Nine of these keep Capt. Badiley at Porto Longone, seven and one fire-ship here, besides two careening in the Mold, and the rest at sea. The Peregrine of 30 guns, commanded by Capt. Jno. Wood, entered the service yesterday. The Lewis is at Genoa, M[ary], E[lizabeth], and Harry Bonadventure at Naples, commanded by Capt. Robert Swanley. Mr. Longland and myself both wrote them that they might be taken into your service, but they have not returned any answer. Capt. Wadsworth has made his escape from the Dutch aboard of me, and yesterday left for England; he blames Capt. Reaves of the Elizabeth, and Capt. Cox of the Warwick that he was not released, being so much oppressed by the Dutch that he lost his frigate, and his men ran away with his boat. The Dutch use the English they take in the Straits very basely, and force them against their mind, as you will perceive by the enclosed letter from a master mate of the Phœnix to his captain.

1652, Nov 1

29. Charles Longland to the Navy Committee. I have shown your instructions as to convoy to Capt. Appleton, will send them to Capt. Badiley, and will confer with both which way may be most advantageous to your ships. I think no kind of motion will be good for either squadron, their numbers being so inferior, but the Peregrine has entered the service, the Lewis will do the same at Genoa, and others may be got from Venice, if men are not wanting.

1652, Nov 5/15

44 Capt. Rich. Badiley to the Navy Committee. I received yours, with the order to take in charge the ships that formerly related to Capt. Appleton, as also an order to him and his subordinates to conform to my directions, which they promise to observe. I shall use my utmost endeavour for the accomplishment of the trust reposed in me. Being advised from Leghorn that the enemies’ men-of-war were gone to the westward, and only 6 sail left in the road, and also that the commanders of the ships in this place were at difference, I got leave from the General of Porto Longone to land, and plant some of our ordnance, for better security of the English ships against 10 of the enemies’ men-of-war which lay at the entrance of that port; and otherwise took the best care I could for the safety of the whole. I then embarked for this place, and on arriving, found so many of the enemies’ ships of war had come in again as made them 13 sail, besides as many merchantmen in the Mould and road, which disproportion between the enemies’ strength and our own has diverted me in my intentions of taking passage back, with the Leopard and Bonadventure, and the merchant ship Peregrine, lately taken into the service, either for the port of Longone, or port of Feraio, that our ships of war might be near together. But although, by report, there was a time when a conjunction between the English ships in this place and them at the Island of Lilboa was feasible, that time being past, it seems now almost impossible, the enemies’ ships of war being increased to 30 sail between those islands and this place, whereof two are going for Zante, and two others for Smyrna, with ships under convoy.

1653, Jan 31

94. I-V. Receipts by Capts. John Wood of the Pilgrim, Wm. Elle of the Lewis, Edm. Seaman of the Samson, Gilbert Roope of the Mary, and Stephen Marsh of the Levant Merchant, from Chas. Longland, of commissions from Council of 13 Sept. 1652, to serve them with ship and men.—Leghorn, 1, 16, and 29 Nov. 1652.

94. vi-x. Receipts by Elle of 2,000 dollars, Seaman 4,000, Roope 3,000, Wood 3,200, and Marsh2,000, on account for the above service.—Leghorn, 21 Dec. 1652 and 17 Jan. 1653.

1653, Mar 14

Report by Charles Longland (agent in Tuscany), of Capt. Badiley’s disastrous attempt to rescue six English ships besieged near Leghorn, which resulted in all but one being captured or burnt. English ships involved: Leopard, Samson, Bonadventure, Peregrine, Levant and Pilgrim, and others unnamed. See ff.7-8 (Cf. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1652-1653, p.214). [SP46/97/fo 18A-18B]

1653, Mar 21

The next day after the fight, the Dutch turned all our men on shore, except the captains, and being destitute of clothes and victuals, I was necessitated to supply them at the State’s charge, being 280 sound men, and 90 wounded, whereof a dozen are dead, and I fear as many more may follow. I am sending the sound men to Venice and Messina, to supply the ships there. Geo. Smith writes that a bill for 7,000 dollars from Capt. Badiley has not been accepted, for want of his letter of advice, which it is hoped has since arrived, otherwise it will greatly prejudice him. [½ page, with the letter of 14 March, No32, supra.]

1653, May 8

32. Certificate by Capt. Rich. Badiley that the Peregrine, John Wood commander, was hired for the service by Charles Longland, while she lay in Leghorn Mould, last October, at 3l. 15s. a month. That the captain had liberty to entertain 108 men, and whatever were wanting of that number, an abatement of 45s. a head per month was to be made. That the commander and her company were very ready to follow the orders given them, and showed great courage before the dispute. That on March 4 last, after her main and mizen mast had been shot, and most of her men slain or wounded, she surrendered to the enemy, when these who were appointed for her relief did not prosecute what was expected of them.

32. i. Depositions on interrogatories of John Butt, of Redrith Wall, Surrey, carpenter of the Peregrine, on behalf of Saml. Wilson and other owners. Was shipped for a voyage from London for Venice, &c., and on entering Leghorn, the ship was taken up to serve the State against the Dutch. She was 300 tons burden, and carried 32 pieces of ordnance. On March 4 last, she and five other ships, being in Leghorn Road, were met with and set upon by 27 Dutch men-of-war, and a sharp and bloody fight ensued for seven hours, in which Capt. Wood and his company behaved themselves very stoutly, and like Englishmen; but the captain and 20 of his men were killed, many more wounded, and the ship was much torn and battered. Her company defended her until she was boarded, and ready to be overmastered by three Holland men-of-war, and there not being men enough left to stand by her guns, and no means of escaping, she being brought to a wreck and not fit for service or resistance, she was entered and taken by the Dutch.

Before the fight she was worth, with her furniture, 4,500l. The fitting out and providing her with victuals, furniture, &c. in the Straits for her voyage stood the owners in much more than it would have cost in England, more particularly the carpenters’ work and materials, the cost of which was double to what it would have been in England. With similar depositions of Isaac Jacquett, of Plymouth, late boatswain, and Gregory Bernard, of Limehouse, late steward of the said ship.— May 5, 1653.

1653, Jun 3

12. Petition of Capt. Owen Cox, commander of the Phœnix, late the Bonadventure, to the Council of State, for an order to recompense the mariners who were instrumental in regaining possession of the frigate from the Dutch. When petitioner attempted the surprisal of the Phœnix, he was constrained to engage 82 mariners of the Bonadventure, Leopard, Sampson, and Peregrine, then riding in Leghorn Mould, and for their better encouragement in such a dangerous design, undertook to pay them 10l. each, if the undertaking prospered; and being now accomplished, though with much hazard and difficulty, the mariners persecute him for the performance of his promise, which he is himself unable to make good.

1653, Jun 6

3, 5, 16, 18. The petitions of the owners of the ship Peregrine; of Anne, widow of Capt. Robt. Batten; of Edm. Ball, late master gunner of the Wildman fireship; and of Nath. Meade, referred to the Admiralty Commissioners to examine. [Also Vol. XXXVII., Nos. 40a41.]

1653 Jun 24

Have allowed 10l. to Catherine, relict of Mathew Barret, master of the Peregrine, and sometime commander, killed in the engagement with the Dutch in Leghorn Road on March 4 last, and recommend her for 50l. more.

1653, Nov 14

Capt. Appleton being brought into this condition, he now taxes me and Capt. Wood for triumphing over his misery, though I used all possible means to prevent his imprisonment, and afterwards to get him cleared, continuing early and late, both in public and private, and never desisted until I understood the Great Duke had sent him to Porto Feraro, when I returned back to Leghorn.

Seeing the malice of this man extends even to the dead, I must justify Capt. Wood. He was a pious and discreet man, and very forward to serve his country, and often proffered his service to Capt. Appleton, to wait upon him with his ship whenever he would attempt the breaking through the enemy; once while we 3 were walking on the broad place, he so far urged it upon Appleton that he made him angry, and he asked what great matters he could do with his 30 guns and 30 men. Wood replied that he brought 45 men into port, besides what he had picked up since, and that Appleton’s thus undervaluing him was a disparagement to him and his ship.

A little after he [Appleton?] says that I and the commanders agreed they should lose no more time, whereupon they slipped their cables. I stayed aboard the Leopard a long time after the departure of the other commanders, and as I was walking with Appleton upon the upper deck, Capt. Lynn called to him to know if he should go out; I again earnestly desired Capt. Appleton to remember what they had all agreed to, not to stir out of the Mould until the enemy had engaged Capt. Badiley, which he then again promised faithfully to observe, and I took my leave. No sooner was I ashore but Appleton was under sail, as if he had been greedy of his ruin, which was thereby unavoidable, for as soon as their ships’ sterns were to the Mould, the whole Dutch fleet tacked back upon them; this was long forseen by Capt. Badiley, who laboured so much to prevent it, that he often repeated in his letters not to come out of the Mould until the enemy had engaged his squadron. Capt. Wood before his death acknowledged this error to be their utter ruin, and told me he called to Capt. Fisher, who was next ship to the Sampson, to speak to Capt. Seaman to speak to Capt. Appleton that the ships might forbear going out until their due time. Fisher replied, “you know what manner of man Capt. Seaman is, that a man cannot speak to him.” Nothing but sheer malice has set this man to traduce me, or why does he rake up any action of mine ashore that he thinks might be shaped into a misdemeanor? To what end else tends his telling you that I never owned nor sent to see him after his captivity, and that the men were starved going for Venice, and the publishing of Mr. Reding’s letter?

Men fallen into errors by their own ignorance or rashness often lay the blame on others. Capt. Appleton had shown more wisdom in submitting to the hand of Providence than in falling to beating his fellow servants. He has heaped abuses on Capt. Badiley, whose integrity is so well known to you, and also his wisdom and courage in managing the late fight with the Dutch before Porto Longone, and in preserving so many rich ships, and his endeavours were 10 times more employed to save this unhappy squadron. I have been eye-witness of his care therein, besides those many dangers he escaped going to and fro between this place and Porto Longone, being waylaid by the enemy, who was greedy of his destruction, and sought all manner of ways to compass it, while Appleton never made a motion in 6 months to get out of the Mould, though Captains Wood and Marsh and Mr. Edge often urged him to take some opportunity to break out, and they would accompany him with their ships; yet nothing but discouragements came from him, and he even told Capt. Wood‘s men they would have no pay for their service, of which Wood complained to me. I confess my weakness in performing any acceptable service, yet what I acted was with integrity.

142. i. Deposition of Jonathan Parker. After the fight with the Dutch fleet, I went on board the Dutch Vice-Admiral, by order of Mr. Longland, to ascertain if Capt. Appleton wanted anything, when he stated he only wanted his liberty, and desired Longland would endeavour to obtain it. On my asking him how many men were slain on, board his ship in the engagement, he replied 90 or 100, although it was subsequently proved there were but 1/10th of that number. Upon leaving that ship, I went on board the Maid of Enchuisen, where Capt. Marsh was a prisoner and then to the Pilgrim, where I found Capt.Wood mortally wounded. At his earnest desire I obtained leave for him to go on shore, and took him on shore, and thus was prevented from visiting Capt. Seaman, who was on board young Van Tromp. The next day I made several journeys, by desire of Mr. Longland, to Vanderstraten, the Dutch agent, and proffered Longland’s security for the captains above named, if they might be allowed to come on shore during the day, and return on board at night, but it could not be agreed to until orders were received from Holland.— Leghorn, 14 Nov. 1653.

1653, undated.

104. Petition of Sam. Gettings to the Navy Commissioners. Was long cook of the Peregrine, and bought the ticket of Rich. Williams of the Leopard, who was transferred to the Peregrine, but lost it with other things when the ship was surprised by the Dutch, and he and Mr. Davies, purser of the Leopard, were left wounded at Leghorn. Begs an order that Mr. Davies may make him another ticket. With note in Italian: Ei ci fa piu chiarezze che il suole, e ti ha ingannato, o ingannarti vuole. Also in Latin: Quid de quoque viro, et cui dicas sœpe caveto. Curas hominum quantum est rebus invito. Nemo mortalium omnibus horis sapit. Auriculas asini quis non habet ? Aliquando bonus dormitat. Homerus sibi ipsi non semper justus.

1653, Dec 20

53. Navy Commissioners to Council. We certify, on petition of the owners of the Peregrine, that she was employed as one of the squadron in the Straits under Capt. Rich. Badiley, 4 months and 3 weeks before she was taken, which at 3l. 15s. a man per month, for 108 men, amounts to 1,575l. 19s. 9d., which ought to be allowed. The ship was worth 3,100l., and if you allow that, according to the declaration of Parliament for ships honourably lost in fight, the freight, amounting to 781l. 1s. 6d., will have to be deducted, leaving a balance due of 2,318l. 18s. 6d. The owners have already received 700l. from the Navy Treasurer, and 3,500 dollars from Mr. Longland in the Straits.

1654, May 17

87. Petition of Maurice Thompson and 10 other owners of the Peregrine, to the Protector, for an order to the Navy Treasurer for payment of what shall be found due for the loss of their ship in an engagement with the Dutch in the Straits, when the captain and 22 men were slain and 40 wounded, as was proved to the late Council of State, who referred the case to the Navy Commissioners, and they have reported on it. 11 signatures. With reference thereon to Council.

1655, Feb 8

65. Petition of the owners of the Peregrine to the Protector and Council, for satisfaction for the loss of their ship, which was taken 18 months since by the Dutch in Leghorn Road, after an honorable fight, in which the captain and above 20 of his men were slain, and 40 wounded. They have had a reference to the Navy Commissioners, a report, and an order for payment, but cannot obtain it. 11 signatures. [1 pageAlso I. 92, No. 85.]

1655, May 29

14. Order on report on the petition of the owners of the Peregrine [seeFeb. 1655],—that there is due to them for freight for their ship, taken up and employed in the Straits under Capt. Badiley nearly 5 months, ending 4 March 1652–3, 1,575l. 19s. 9d.; and that the ship when taken by the enemy was worth, with victuals on board, 2,318l. 18s. 6d; total, 3,894l. 18s. 3d, of which 1,618l. 15s. is paid;—that the balance of 2,276l. 3s. 3d. be paid, Parliament having declared that merchants should be paid for ships lost in the service. [I. 76, pp. 103–6]. Annexing.

1655, Nov 14-15

5. 129. Order that the 2,276l. 3s. 3d. to be paid to the owners of the Peregrine, lost in the service [see 29May 1655], be paid from the Navy Treasury, and the Navy Commissioners are to give orders accordingly.

Order to make out a bill to the owners of the Peregrine for 2,276l. 3s. 3d. for her freight and hull, having been lost in the service.

1656, Feb 29

From Adm. Com. To Navy Comrs. Order to ascertain what is due to Vice-Adm. Badiley for his 16th part in the Peregrine, and to give order for payment, he requiring money previous to going to sea, and alleging that his part amounts to 140l. Noted that a bill was passed for 142l. 2s. 8d.

The London newspaper Mercurius Politicus Comprising the Summ of All Intelligence (available on the 17th-18th century Burney Collection Newspapers) furnishes a few brief details on the events connected with the ship Peregrine and her Captain:

March 24, 1653 – March 31, 1653

From Legorn, March 4

(…) The Peregrine was ingaged with four or five of the Dutch at a time, who shot away her main Mast and Mise, and being overpower’d by so great odds in number, was taken. (…) Capt. Apleton is living, but wounded. The Captain of the Peregrine is likewise alive, but conceived to be mortally wounded.

March 31, 1653 – April 7, 1653

The third English ship called the Peregrine, of 32 Guns, was boarded by the Susanna of Holland, who could not master her, till at lenght the Black Eagle came, and likewise boarded, and then she yelded.

The book “A life of Richard Badiley: Vice-Admiral of the Fleet” written in 1899 by Thomas Alfred Spalding provides some more bits of information:

p.214: “Two hundred and eighty sound men, and ninety wounded, were landed on Leghorn Mould that day. (…) The sufferings of the wounded, whose injuries had received little or no attention, while they lay upon the Mould, must have been terrible. Twelve of them died soon after landing, and as many more were expected not to survive.

Longland set about the work thus thrust upon him with energy. He hired a house, which he quickly turned into a hospital, purchasing beds and other necessaries to furnish it. Then he bespoke the services of all the best surgeons in the town, and contracted with a resident Englishman to provide the sufferers with proper food at the rate of half a dollar a day for each man. Once in every day he went the round of this improvised hospital, to see that the patients wanted for nothing, and listening, doubtless, to many a woeful tale. Among the sufferers was Captain Wood, of the Peregrine. He was mortally wounded, and the Dutch, out of humanity and respect for a brave foe, would fain have kept him on board the Pilgrim, which had taken him, until his end came. But he besought so earnestly that he might be taken on shore to die amongst friends, that his wish was granted. «He was a pious and discreet man», Longland said, «and very forward to serve his country.» During his last hours he was haunted by the memory of the mistake which Appleton had made in going out of Leghorn harbour before Badiley was engaged with the Dutch, a mistake which he had tried in vain to remedy. «Master Longland», he would moan, «our destruction is of ourselves – our destruction is of ourselves. We cannot blame Captain Badiley or anybody else, since we went not out in the night whenas we were sent for. I saw we went out too soon in the morning. If we had stayed while the Admiral had been engaged, all might have been well enough.» Longland could only listen pityngly to the dying man’s groans, and when at last they ceased, he laid him to rest in his forgotten Italian grave.

Another relevant document which sheds more light on Captain John Wood is the printed answer of Capt. Badiley to Capt. Appleton, cited in the sources at the bottom of this page:

p.20: “…to complain of the Remonstrances and then for Capt. Appleton to say the deceased Capt. Wood triumphed over him, I dare say is a most false thing, In that there are many can testifie he was a man restlesse to serve other Captains in their necessities (who had shewed themselves his great enemies) in so high a nature, as that the like can hardly be parallel’d, and so much I can further say for the said Captain, according to what Mr. Longland denotes (as his opinion) in his Letter to me at my first coming into Porto Longone, he was a man more readier to serve the State, then such as eat their bread, before he even entered into the States Service to receive their pay, not only in taking care to haste[?] Ammunition, and other things to me at my first harbouring in Longone, but otherwise (…).”

p.28: “…When he saw they would go out so soon, contrary to his Advice, he shut himselfe in his Chamber, giving up all for lost; and as it’s prov’d, when Capt. Wood came ashore wounded, oh faith he (as he confess’d to his last breath) Mast.r Longland, Our Destruction is of our selves, our Destruction is of our selves, we cannot blame Captaine Badiley, nor any body else, since we went not out in the night when as we were sent for, I saw wee went too soone in the morning: if we had staid while the Admirall had been engag’d, all might have been well enough, or words to that purpose.”

p.45: “Here followeth five Letters from Mr. Charles Longland, the States Publique Minister at Legorn, Sixe Letters from Mr. Morgan Reed, Consull to the English Nation in that place. Three from Captain John Wood, and two letters from Captain Owen Coxe. (…) Mr. Longland’s 2 Letter. Captain Badiley. This is to accompany a small Brigantine or Lint, laden with provisions, according to the inclosed Bill of Lading, which I have consigned to Mr. John Wood, in case the Boat should not be able to get into Porto Longone, that then Mr. Wood might follow your Order in its disposall in Porto Ferraro, or Piombelno, which I am assured he will be carefull of it, for be is an honest man, and more forward to doe any service that concernes the benefit or honour of our Nation, then those in this place that are trusted with it. (…)”

p.50-51: “Captaine Woods first Letter. Cap. Ri. Badiley. Honoured SIR, I desire to blesse God for your safety, being delivered from your Enemie, and sorry for the losse of one of your Squadron, as also that you could have no assistance from any that is here, but of that no more now, Captain Witherage this day departed this life, and Captain Appleton not very well, consequently the Squadron not in a good posture, which I am sorry to see, rather wishing that we had some good Resolutions to do a little work before us. Not above foure saile of Ships doe keepe us all here, and I suppose at last it will be put you to contrive our worke for us, & the Lord direct you in it: so time not permitting at present, but by the next shall be larger, of our crosse providences. No newes from England, with my humble respects to you – Remain your Servant – John Wood. – Legorn, Sept. 3 . 1653. [sic] [misprint in original source for Sep.3, 1652]

Capt. Wood‘s 2 Letter. Capt. Ri. Badiley, SIR; Yours by the Satty, and another by Capt. Cox, came to my hands, and am glad you have found out such a way to secure your Provisions, as for the Governor to owne it: I doe wish in the mean time, none of our Boats run into danger, for the Barque men are very incident to lead them, if they will be rul’d by them; so am I also glad of your care in sending Capt. Cox to stir us up at Legorn, in each businesse I shall not be waiting according to my power; the successe I shall refer to God. who is able to judge of all our intentions. The Lord in mercy send us united hearts in this time of Tryall, unto whose goodnesse I commend you, and respectfully rest – Piombeene, 7ber 8. 1652. – Yours, John Wood.

p.54: “…I intend if it please Almighty God to give me strenght of body, within two or three days to come over with M. Wood and other Commanders to you to Porto Longone, the Merchants want two weeks Letters…”

p.55: “…my selfe and the Bonaventure, with Mr. Wood and Mr. Marsh, who shew both willingnesse to the service, have not above seventy men betwixt both their ships, it would be too great an advantage for the enemy upon us, we being but foure ships…”

p.66: “…I carried Capt. Seaman and Capt. Wood twice to the Secretary, as sent by the rest of the Commanders, to acquaint him, that if the stormy weather continued, ’twas not possible for them to goe out, nor you to come in…”

p.84: “The ninth Affidavit. – These are to certifie whomsoever it doth concerne, That being Carpenter of the ship cal’d the Perrigrine, then in Legorn Mould, upon the fourth of March last, in the morning I heard our Captain John Wood say, that we went out too soones and after our ship was lost, being at Mr. Longlands when the said Captain came first ashore, very much wounded, I heard Mr. Longland say, In regard Capt. Badileyes Order was not followed, therefore our Squadron was ruined. And moreover, I heard Capt. John Wood Reply to this effect, We cannot blame Capt. Badiley, but must confesse that our destruction is of our selves, for had we staid a little longer, while the said Badiley had been engaged, no doubt but that might have been saved, which is lost (…).”

The Battle of Leghorn in three paintings.

The following website gives an accurate description of the three paintings:

History of the Sailing Warship in the Marine Art

The grave of Capt. John Wood in the Old English Cemetery of Livorno

The inscription reads:

D.O.M. | Conditur hoc lapide | Ioh. Wood Anglus | navis pellegrini capitaneus | insigne pietate et sapientia et fortitudine vir | qui dei timore et amore patriæ inflammatus | vitam navemque amisit | in infelici illo prælio adversus Batavos | in hoc portu | prid. id. mar MDCLII.

The importance of this grave resides in the fact that it’s the only existing grave of an Englishman who fought in this battle. The absence of any protestant burial register for this period doesn’t allow us to know if any other of the dead English mariners and captains had been buried in Livorno. The grave is located in the C2 area of the cemetery, the most ancient, and it’s among the 10 oldest graves still visible today in this burial ground.

The date is expressed in latin style: “prid. id. mar MDCLII” which indicates “the day before the Ides of March 1652”, that is, the 14th of March 1652 in the Old Style (O.S.) calendar and corresponds to the 24th of March 1653 in the New Style (N.S.).

The battle was fought on the 4th of March (O.S.) which corresponds to the 14th of March (N.S.) but the graves indicates that Capt. Wood died on the 14th of March (O.S.) which is the 24th of March 1653 (N.S.). The coincidence of the two dates in the two different calendars’ styles may lead us to think that Capt. Wood died during the Battle but taking into account the information above, especially the newspaper article, we are now able to say that Captain John Wood, unfortunately, had to fight for his life 10 more days before the wounds received during the Battle killed him.



The Kentish Knock Company
British Civil Wars, Commonwealth and Protectorate 1638-60
– Anderson, R.C., The First Dutch War in the Mediterranean,
The Mariner’s Mirror, November 1963, Vol.49 No.4, pp. 241-265.
The Battle of Leghorn (Wikipedia)
– Calendar of State Papers Domestic
– Capt. Badiley’s answer unto Capt. Appleton’s Remonstrance, Simmons,
London, 1653