Islands and the British Empire in the Age of Sail

ISBN : 9780198847229

Douglas Hamilton; John McAleer
224 ページ
156 x 234 mm
Oxford History of the British Empire Companion Series

Islands are not just geographical units or physical facts; their importance and significance arise from the human activities associated with them. The maritime routes of sailing ships, the victualling requirements of their sailors, and the strategic demands of seaborne empires in the age of sail - as well as their intrinsic value as sources of rare commodities - meant that islands across the globe played prominent parts in imperial consolidation and expansion. This volume examines the various ways in which islands (and groups of islands) contributed to the establishment, extension, and maintenance of the British Empire in the age of sail. Thematically related chapters explore the geographical, topographical, economic, and social diversity of the islands that comprised a large component of the British Empire in an era of rapid and significant expansion. Although many of these islands were isolated rocky outcrops, they acted as crucial nodal points, providing critical assistance for ships and men embarked on the long-distance voyages that characterised British overseas activities in the period. Intercontinental maritime trade, colonial settlement, and scientific exploration and experimentation would have been impossible without these oceanic islands. They also acted as sites of strategic competition, contestation, and conflict for rival European powers keen to outstrip each other in developing and maintaining overseas markets, plantations, and settlements. The importance of islands outstripped their physical size, the populations they sustained, or their individual economic contribution to the imperial balance sheet. Standing at the centre of maritime routes of global connectivity, islands offer historians of the British Empire fresh perspectives on the intercontinental communication, commercial connections, and territorial expansion that characterised that empire.


1 Douglas Hamilton and John McAleer: Islands and the British Empire in the Age of Sail
2 Stephen A. Royle: Islands, Voyaging, and Empires in the Age of Sail
3 James Davey: Britain's European Island-Empire, 1793-1815
4 Michael J. Jarvis: Islands of Settlement: Britain's Western North Atlantic Islands in the Age of Sail, 1497-1835
5 Douglas Hamilton: 'Sailing on the Same Uncertain Sea': The Windward Islands of the Caribbean
6 John McAleer: The Route to the East: Atlantic Islands and Britain's Maritime Empire
7 Sarah Longair: Britain's Western Indian Ocean Island-Scape
8 Sujit Sivasundaram: Islands and the Age of Revolutions in the Indian and Pacific Oceans
9 Alison Bashford: Empire in Oceania: Knowing the Sea of Islands
10 Katherine Roscoe: Islands of Incarceration and Empire Building in Colonial Australia
11 H. V. Bowen: Afterword. Islands and the British Empire: From the Age of Sail to the Age of Steam


Douglas Hamilton (Sheffield Hallam University) is a historian of the British Empire in the eighteenth-century Atlantic World, with a particular focus on the Caribbean. His publications include Scotland, the Caribbean and the Atlantic World (2005), and (as editor) Slavery, Memory and Identity (2012) and Jacobitism, Enlightenment and Empire (2014). He is currently working on a history of the Royal Navy in the eighteenth-century Caribbean. ; John McAleer (University of Southampton) is a historian of the British encounter and engagement with the wider world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, situating the history of empire in its global and maritime contexts. His recent monograph, Britain's Maritime Empire: Southern Africa, the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, 1763-1820 (2016), focused on the relationship between Britain's maritime empire and the crucial strategic locations at the gateway to the Indian Ocean World. He is currently working on a history of travellers' experiences of the voyage to Asia in the age of sail.