Ward's Book of Days.

Pages of interesting anniversaries.

What happened on this day in history.


On this day in history in 1769 was born Thomas Mamby.

Mamby was a naval officer who fought the French in the Napoleonic Wars, sailed on voyages of exploration and was later suspected of having an affair with the Princess of Wales.

Manby came from Hilgay on the Norfolk Fens, a younger son of The Lord of the Manor. His father intended him to be a clerk in the ordnance department but young Mamby was the sort of person who couldn’t bear being stifled indoors and so ran off to sea. 

At 21, he landed a post as master's mate on George Vancouver's ship Discovery. The Admiralty required a survey of the north-west coast of America hoping to take possession of this territory. It took them a year to arrive at an undiscovered island which Manby spotted first. He wrote in his diary ‘It had more the aspect of enchantment than reality’. This island, which ought to have been called Many Island, was named after the ship’s captain and is now Vancouver Island. 

When Britain went to war with France, Manby was appointed as commander of the Charon, guarding the English Channel, and later commander of the Bordelais where he sank several French warships. He sustained many injuries and underwent the surgeon’s knife on more than one occasion. He was treated with opium to which he later became addicted.

During his recuperation, Manby was introduced to Caroline, Princess of Wales, who was estranged from her husband the Prince, and lived in Ramsgate. They became great friends and Caroline even chose the soft furnishings for Manby’s cabin.

In 1806, George III ordered an inquiry into rumours that the Princess of Wales had given birth. Manby was the first of many suspects but nothing was ever proved. By this time, he was considered unfit for service due to his war wounds, rheumatism and opium addiction and he retired. 

He settled on an estate in Norfolk and married a twenty-year-old woman and had three daughters. In 1834 he died of a drug overdose in the George Hotel, Southampton, and was buried at St Mary’s Church, South Stoneham. [50.93656°N 1.37530°W]

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2006 Ward’s Book of Days