How to salvage a Spanish galleon

By SINCLAIR, George, 1688 

The Principles of Astronomy and Navigation: … to Which is Added a Discovery of the Secrets of Nature Which are Found in the Mercurial Weather-Glass, &c. As also a New Proposal for Buoying up a Ship of any Burden from the Bottom of the Sea. By George Sinclair, sometimes Professor of Philosophy in the College of Glasgow.

Maritime & Military
  • Author: SINCLAIR, George
  • Publication place: Edinburgh
  • Publisher: Printed by the Heir to Andrew Anderson, Printed to His most Sacred Majesty
  • Publication date: 1688.
  • Physical description: First edition. Octavo (150 by 90mm) title, dedication, preface, 85, 49, 14pp., contemporary ownership inscription and sketches to front free endpaper, contemporary limp vellum, lacking small portion of the front cover as well as two of the four leather ties.
  • Inventory reference: 1288

Notes

A scarce work on navigation, astronomy and the salvaging of ships. The three parts each have separate pagination. The author writes of attempts made to salvage the Spanish galleon sunk off the the Isle of Mull in 1588, points out that the weight of the vessel is identical with the displacement, and suggests that air containers, called Arks’, open at the bottom, should be secured to the submerged wreck and air admitted, either by pumping through leather pipes, or by divers introducing it with the aid of inverted buckets or inflated skins. He also refers to the use of a diving bell.

George Sinclair (died c 1696) was Professor of Mathematics at the University of Glasgow from 1691 until 1696 and gifted money to the fund for the building of the Old College. The George Sinclair Chair in Mathematics was founded in 1984.

Sinclair may have been born in the Haddington area and was Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews before moving to Glasgow in 1655. He resigned in 1667 when University professors were required to submit to the Episcopal form of church government. He became a mineral surveyor and engineer, and then a schoolteacher in Edinburgh where he was also employed to supervise a project to bring fresh drinking water into the city. He published several important books on mathematics and practical physics.

In 1688, Sinclair returned to the Glasgow University having declared his readiness to swear the oath of allegiance to King William III. He was Professor of Mathematics and Experimental Philosophy from 1691 until his death. 

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