Master and Madman

Master and Madman

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Shortlisted, Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing

Despite the coming social reforms undertaken at home, the world of the Georgian British Empire was nothing if not class-conscious and leery of outsiders. But Anthony Lockwood, with no known certain record of his parentage and whose first appearance in history is his signing onto the USS Iphigenia in Jamaica in 1795, certainly broke through this mould. His naval record almost exactly spanned the French wars and the War of 1812, and he was commended for bravery in action against the French, was present at the Spithead Mutiny, shipwrecked and imprisoned in France, appointed master attendant of the naval yard in Bridgetown Barbados, and served as an hydrographer in the English Channel and the West Indies before beginning a three-year marine survey of Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy. All of this certainly seems eventful enough, but he was just getting started.

Despite being an "outsider", Lockwood was able, due to his experience in the Navy, to acquire an appointment as the Surveyor General of New Brunswick and become the right-hand man to Governor George Stracey Smyth. Also appointed as Receiver General, his rise to the top of society seemed all but assured — despite the "handicap" of his low birth. But was he accepted or only tolerated by the aristocratic high New Brunswick society?

On June 1, 1823, after several days of confronting authorities, picking fist fights, and riding from one side of the province to another, Lockwood took to his horse, brandished two pistols, and declared that he was taking over the government. This one-man coup d'etat failed, and he was declared mad. Jailed and later placed under house arrest, it would be November 1825 before he was officially removed from office and went home to England, where he spent much of the rest of his life in and out of asylums. With his own destruction of many of his records as well as the loss of more to a shipwreck and a fire, the story of Anthony Lockwood was a difficult one to research. With an exhaustive bibliography and notes, here, for the first time, is the bizarre, true story of Lockwood's almost unprecedented rise and disastrous fall.