Nocturnal, George Waymouth

After returning from an unsuccessful exploration trip to Labrador, in 1602 George Waymouth set down to write and illustrate his book The Jewell of Artes. Two copies were apparently presented to the new king, James I, in 1604, possibly as part of a search for employment. Two manuscripts exist, one at the Beineke Library at Yale University, the other in the British Library. James Baxter, founder of the Maine Historical Society, had a copy of the British Library volume made, which was on display at the Tercentenary of Waymouth’s voyage but since has disappeared.

The Jewell of Artes has chapters on navigation, ship building, artillery and fortifications. It has never been published.

This is his rendering of a nocturnal, a device for determining the time at night by lining up the pointers with stars in Ursa Major or Ursa Minor. Like the real instrument, the arms are movable.

Courtesy the Beineke Library, Yale University

Waymouth on Navigation:

“It were muche to be wished that all those that doe undertake to make Discovery of any straunge cuntries or passages: had some skill in all these artes comprehende in this my present booke, as first in Instruments of navigation they ought to know both the making and use of so many as is possible, for if they know not howe theire instrumentes ought to be made then may they be so faultie as they shall not be any thing profited by them......good instruments make a good navigator with out the which it is impossible for hym to doe any good in performance of any profitable voyage at sea: in discoveringof straung countries, or passages againe if they never be exactly made yet if seamen want skill howe to use them as have them.”

Database ID: 
www.Beinecke MS 565
Geographic Location: 
Waymouth, George