18th-century readership of the First Fleeter Watkin Tench

18th-century readership of the First Fleeter Watkin Tench

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2021

We have an unusually interesting copy of the First Fleeter Watkin Tench’s second book, “A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson, in New South Wales” 1793, from the inventory of an 18th-century book club in Stockton-on-Tees in the N.E. of England, at that time transitioning from being a small quiet market town to an industrial hub with growing engineering and shipbuilding activities. See details of this copy and of the readers noted in the volume on our website here. 

We have also been able to analyse the readership of the same text from a different angle: the list of original subscribers to the publication printed in the book, who accounted for a surprising 540 copies. Our spreadsheet can be seen or downloaded here, ordered by place where place is known, but of course can be rearranged at will. It shows, incidentally, that very few of the subscribers also committed to any of the other “First Fleet” books that solicited subscriptions (Phillip, White & Hunter). There is a significant Welsh or near-Welsh component -- Tench was born in Chester, just across the border from Wales, and his patron, and the dedicatee of the book, was Sir Watkin Williams Wynn of Flintshire.  A number of Flintshire subscribers'  names are listed.  Other clusters of readership are based on his service colleagues in the Marines, military confreres, London, Oxford, Denbighshire, Chester and Cheshire,  Liverpool and Plymouth.