This dictionary, based on a number of authoritative works, is a great place to find the origin of words and avoid anachronistic language by checking first usage dates. For instance, "sea-dog" in the sense of old sailor is attested from 1840; "tar" from 1676. It includes numerous nautical terms and gives alternatives where the etymology is uncertain (e.g. "mizzen"). Search options include exact match and "natural language", which will find any part of a compound word or phrase.
The Dictionary of Sensibility
Created by the Department of English at the University of Virginia, this site explores the multifarious meanings of eighteenth century 'terms of sensibility' (such as honour and imagination) through excerpts from eighteenth century literature.
Glossary of Eighteenth Century Costume Terminology
An ABC of clothing items and accessories used in the eighteenth century, with links to examples on other websites (not all the links work, however).
Debrett's Etiquette - Correct Forms of Address
A concise online version of Debrett's definitive Correct Form. From an ambassador's wife to a viscount's widow, this webpage explains how to address titled persons, military officers, etc.
A Table Alphabeticall of Hard Usual English Words
Published in 1604 by Robert Cawdrey, this list of English words, with brief definitions, is a forerunner of modern dictionaries. While of an earlier date than most Age of Sail fiction, this page provides an interesting survey of words (and spelling!) used before the standardisation of the English language.
Speaking of the Past: The Words of Colonial Williamsburg
This article provides a simple but interesting survey of some of the differences between eighteenth century and modern American English, such as the changing meaning of the word "nice" and the different ways of forming contractions then and now.
Expressions and Sayings
An index which explains the meaning and origin of English phrases, both ancient and modern, such as "hold forth" and "bone of contention". This resource is part of the website Scorpio Tales.
The Phrase Finder
A searchable website about the meaning and origins of English phrases, including a discussion forum with archives. Phrases may be browsed alphabetically or in themed categories such as as 'Phrases from Shakespeare' and 'Euphemisms'.
English Accents and Dialects
An archive of sound recordings demonstrating various regional accents from all over England, provided by the British Library.
How to Speak 19th Century
A list of words and phrases, with their meanings, used in ninetheenth century American English, some of which are peculiar to the United States.
Various historical maps of Cape Town, South Africa, from the 17th to 19th centuries. Further information is available for some of the maps (and prints are available for purchase).
Portugal > Wines > Madeira
“It is said that in order to create good Madeira it has to travel. This was discovered by the trading ships that used the Island as a port on their eastern trips through the Tropics. The wine was thus raised to a temperature of 45ºC. through the Tropics and cooled again in the months of the ensuing journey. This was discovered almost by accident when a shipment of wine was returned to the Island and the shippers realized why the flavour had improved.”
“Some have said that great Madeira is virtually immortal. Even today one can find Madeira wines of 50, 100, 150, even 200+ years old. The longevity of Madeira wine can be attributed in large part to the way in which it is made. While other wines are made with great care to not expose them to the extremes of light, heat, cold, air, motion, it is exactly these factors that give Madeira wine its unique, and long ageing attributes.”
Enjoying Madeira Wine - Into Wine
Another history, with maps and pictures.
Songs of the Sea
A collection of "sea shanties" and other sea-related songs, of varyinbg age and origin. This site provides lyrics and tunes (in Midi format), and unfortunately plays annoying background music. There is another section on the Folk Music of England.
Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads
A huge collection of old "broadsides" from the Bodleian Library in Oxford, including a large number about the sea, sailors and sailing.
Lyrics and Tunes of Wassail
A website devoted to the "wassail", traditionally sung around Christmas time, with many variants throughout the British Isles.
Ancient Poems, Ballads and Songs of England
A searchable collection of poems and songs, sourced from oral tradition and old manuscripts.
Journeys in Time
Features the journals of Lachlan Macquarie (Governor of New South Wales 1809-1822) and his wife Elizabeth. The site also includes list of significant people in the colony and ships that visited New South Wales while Macquarie was governor.
Papers of Sir Joseph Banks
Banks accompanied Cook in the Pacific between 1768 and 1771 and later played a major role in the development of the New South Wales colony, reflected in this collection of letters and memoranda. The documents can be searched but Banks' writing is often difficult to read.
The military in OZ before Waterloo
Includes a history of the New South Wales Corps and other early military units in Australia.
The New South Wales (NSW) Corps aka "The Rum Corps"
A history, with illustrations, of the troublesome "Rum Corps" which served in New South Wales from 1790-1810.
Historic Houses Trust
This site includes information about a number of surviving historically-significant properties in NSW, including Elizabeth Farm House (the home of the Macarthur family), Old Government House at Parramatta, and the Hyde Park Barracks. These properties are now museums, managed by the Historic Houses Trust.
The St Helena Institute
Includes historical documents and images, a brief history of St Helena, and a guide to other historical resources. This site also covers Tristan da Cunha and Ascension Island.
St Helena Virtual Library and Archive
An extensive virtual library, including early 19th-century plates and full-text books about the island.
The Naval History of Great Britain by William James was published in 1837 and covered the period 1793-1827 in six volumes. It is very much a military history, covering both naval battles and single ship actions in a good deal of detail. The site appears to have the full text, together with contents pages, appendices and index.
At 1 p.m. a ship was seen to windward which loomed very large in the fog, and appeared to be chasing the Droits-de-l'Homme, from whom she was distant very little more than a league. Shortly afterwards a second ship was seen astern of the first. Judging them to be enemies, the French 74 immediately made sail to escape, or, at all events, to allow time for preparation. The wind, which still blew from the westward, had now increased considerably, and the sea was becoming very turbulent. At 3 h. 30 m. p.m., having run some distance to the south-east, two other ships were seen on the lee bow, manoeuvring, apparently, to cut off the Droits-de-l'Homme from the land.
These were the British 44-gun frigate Indefatigable, Captain Sir Edward Pellew, and 36-gun frigate Amazon, Captain Robert Carthew Reynolds ; and who, it appears, when by their account in latitude 47° 30' north, Ushant bearing north-east distant 50 leagues, had discovered the Droits-de-l'Homme, bearing from them north-west, about the same time that the latter descried the two ships to windward. These seem to have been considered by M. la Crosse as a part of Sir Edward's squadron ; but we rather think they were the French 74 Revolution and frigate Fraternité, on their way to the Isle of Ré. At all events, we have ascertained from the best authority, the Indefatigable's log, that no other vessel than the Amazon was cruising with her ; nor had been, except the Duke-of-York lugger, and she had parted company a fortnight previous.
The site can be found here: http://www.pbenyon.plus.com/Naval_History/Index.html