The Levant Voyage of the Blackham Galley (1696 – 1698) Posted By: Jack Benson Hakluyt Society Publications, Society Volumes The Levant Voyage of the Blackham Galley (1696 – 1698) The Sea Journal of John Looker, Ship’s Surgeon Edited by Colin Heywood and Edmond Smith Hakluyt Society, Series III Volume 40, 2022 ISBN 978-1-032-22211-0 Volume 40 in the Hakluyt Society Third Series is the first publication of the journal kept by John Looker (?1670—1715) recording his voyage as ship’s surgeon on the Blackham Galley, a London-built merchantman on its second trading voyage to the Levant, between December 1696 and March 1698. Looker’s journal is held in the Caird Library of the National Maritime Museum and describes his experiences on the voyage from Gravesend, to March 1698, when the journal breaks off abruptly in mid-sentence when the ship was off the Kentish ‘Narrows’. John Looker was a Londoner who served an apprenticeship to a London barber-surgeon, and became a Freeman of the Company of Barber-Surgeons. His fifteen months of service on board the Blackham Galley appears to have been his only employment at sea, but his ready knowledge of maritime ways and language, which are apparent from the first pages of his journal, make it more than likely that he came from a seafaring family. The Levant Voyage of the Blackham Galley (1696 – 1698) falls into three parts: the Blackham Galley’s outward and homeward voyages which were largely without incident; the time spent by the Blackham Galley in Turkish waters, covering its voyage from Smyrna to Constantinople, where the ship stayed for a month, and then returned to Smyrna; Captain Newnam’s ill-advised and disastrous attempt at privateering in Ottoman waters on the return journey to Smyrna, which led to the detention of his vessel at Smyrna under a double interdict from the English ambassador at the Porte and from the Ottoman authorities. Looker’s account of the Blackham Galley’s enforced stay in Smyrna furnishes a vigorous and detailed account of life in the international merchant community, as well as portside life seen ‘from below’, with its taverns and prostitutes, and the activities and frequent ‘debauches’ of an increasingly bored and fractious crew. Recommended to everyone interested in the lives of sailors during the age of sail, and all readers of true life adventure stories! Published price £120. Distributed free to Hakluyt Society members as part of their two volume allowance for the year 2022. Society members can buy in print and print on demand volumes at a significant discount. Join the Hakluyt Society.