Robert R. Rea


The world-wide explansion of the British Empire in the eighteenth century was dependent upon a navy whose officers were, of necessity, the most widely travelled men of their times. No less than frontiersmen, the holders of His Majesty’s commission were empire-builders. Seldom, however, were they fully conscious of the broader significance of their work or capable of literary exploitation of their experiences. John Blankett was an exception to this generalization. His career extended from the inland waters of North America to the Indian Ocean, from Russia to South Africa, from the English Channel to the Red Sea where he last flew his broad pennant. Blankett possessed a keen eye for the unique and delighted in sharing his observations with any who might find them useful or interesting. He was the author of a brief book on Portugal and several lengthy descriptive and strategic memoranda addressed to such influential British statesmen as the Earl of Shelburne.