Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
HM Sloop Zebra Log Book, 1780-1781

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, August 2011

Summary Information
Title: HM Sloop Zebra log book
Creator: Anonymous
Inclusive dates: 1780-1781
Extent: 1 volume
The HM Sloop Zebra log book charts happenings on board the ship during its time in the English Channel, August 1780-July 1781, and en route to the Caribbean, July-August 1781.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1984. M-2140.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

HM Sloop Zebra Log Book, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The Zebra was built in Gravesend, England, in 1780, and its first captain was John Bourchin. The ship spent the first months after its launch in the English Channel, and sailed to the Caribbean in the summer of 1781. The ship took part in several battles, including the 1794 capture of Martinique. In 1800, the Zebra was converted to a bomb vessel, and in 1812 it was sold.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The HM Sloop Zebra log book, titled "Remarks &c. On Board His Majesty's Sloop Zebra," charts happenings on board the ship during its time in the English Channel, August 1780-July 1781, and en route to the Caribbean, July-August 1781. The book begins shortly after the Zebra was launched, and the first several entries noted only that carpenters were at work preparing her for sea. Soon, however, the Zebra began maneuvers in the English Channel. Entries in the log book were usually brief summations of daily weather conditions, provisions taken aboard, and the everyday work necessary to maintain a sailing ship. The author frequently mentioned beer and beef as being main provisions, but also described visits from officers of other vessels. Occasionally, the Zebra encountered, and noted, ships of Dutch, Danish, Swedish, and French origin, but had little combative contact.

The author of the log book also noted punishments (usually by the lash) meted out to seamen and marines for a variety of offenses, including disobedience, neglect of duty, fighting and quarreling, and theft. On October 13, 1780, for example, the Zebra 's commander "dischd. 4 men being Deserters," and on November 6, 1780, "Jno. Pick & Jas. Cheater Seamen" deserted as well. During the Zebra 's time in the Channel, the log book reflected frequent exercises of the ship's guns as well as numerous readings of the Articles of War to the crew. Occasionally, the log book also discussed events of particular import. On one occasion, "a marine being Centry on the Starboard Ganway [sic] fel [sic] over board & was drownd. with his musquett Cartouch box [and] Balls" (January 16, 1781). Overall, the Zebra 's service was primarily uneventful, though her crew observed "the Juno & Chace Exchange several shot" prior to receiving 20 prisoners following the capture of the French privateer Revenge (February 11, 1781). Before embarking for the Caribbean, they "Passed Admiral Digby and cheered him" and later "cheered Admiral Pye" (July 17, 1781). The log book concluded after the Zebra arrived in the Caribbean, with the final entry made in the Bermudas on August 27, 1781. The first page of the log book and remarks for August 21-27, 1781, are missing.

Subject Terms

    • Caribbean Area.
    • English Channel.
    • Great Britain. Royal Navy.
    • Sailing ships--History.
    • Seafaring life.
    • Zebra (Sloop)
    Genre Terms:
    • Ships' logs.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    HM Sloop Zebra log book,  1780-1781 [series]