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Title: The Royal Navy in the Caribbean, 1756-1815
Author: Williams, Sian
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2014
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Intersecting the fields of naval, imperial and Caribbean history, this thesis examines the Royal Navy’s interactions with the inhabitants of the British Caribbean islands between 1756 and 1815. Traditional histories of the Royal Navy in the Caribbean have focused on operational matters, producing narratives that neglect examination of the navy as a socio-cultural force in the region. This thesis aims to address this imbalance by focusing on the navy as a unique social group with multiple roles, which was a constant presence in the Caribbean during a particularly turbulent period at the height of the sugar industry. In conjunction with Catherine Hall’s hypothesis that metropole and colony were ‘mutually constitutive’, the navy is placed at the centre of this study, as it was a powerful institution at the forefront of British imperialism that had a vested interest and connection to both the metropole and the Caribbean. It offers a new perspective that broadens our understanding of the navy and Caribbean society, as part of the wider Atlantic community. Through the often overlooked personal narratives found in correspondence, journals, sketchbooks, and published memoirs of naval observers, this thesis explores how naval seamen represented and reflected upon their experiences and encounters with inhabitants of the Caribbean, highlighting their widespread integration and impact on the region, which previous studies have undervalued. With overlapping themes that engage with debates on empire, nation and identity, it argues that the navy was more than just a protective force as naval seamen were instrumental in the changing social and cultural landscape of the Caribbean, impacting both elite and non-elite communities. In exploring the navy’s social prominence in the region, this thesis offers a textured view of both colonial society and the naval community.
Supervisor: Petley, Christer Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: DA Great Britain