The Gloucester Project

Who was to blame for the Gloucester’s loss?

Two courts martial were swiftly held in London to determine responsibility for the tragedy. The first on 6 June 1682 was brought against the Gloucester’s pilot Ayres and the second a week later against Gunman and William Sturgeon, captain and first mate respectively of the Mary, with Sir Richard Haddock, Comptroller of the Navy, presiding. Only Ayres and Gunman were found guilty and imprisoned, but Gunman, who had been sailing ahead of the Gloucester was particularly bitter that he was held accountable for not giving the larger ship adequate warning that it was in shallow water. Supported by James, he was released a few days later, though Ayres was imprisoned for exactly one year.

Sir_Richard_Haddock.jpg

Sir Richard Haddock by Johann Clostermann.
© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

Gunman.jpg

Captain Christopher Gunman by unknown artist, c. 1675.
© Doddington Hall & Gardens, Lincolnshire