The Floating Republic

An Account of the Mutinies at Spithead and The Nore in 1797

G. E. MANWARING (1882 – 1939)
BONAMY DOBREE (2 February 1891 – 3 September 1974)

“An attempt was made to give to the ships in mutiny the name of ‘ The Floating Republic.’”

From the Report of “The Committee of Secrecy”



The naval mutiny of 1797 is the most astonishing recorded in our, or perhaps any history; astonishing by its management rather than for its results, for other mutinies have been successful. Though a thoroughgoing and alarming mutiny, which shook the country from end to end since it occurred in the middle of a war, in one part at least it was ordered with rigid discipline, a respect for officers, and unswerving loyalty to the King. If throughout its course it was sensationally dramatic, marked by swift changes, halts, and rebounds, and in many ways mysterious, in its chief manifestation it never overstepped the bounds it had set itself in the beginning. Moreover, it was so rationally grounded that it not only achieved its immediate end, the betterment of the sailors’ lot, but also began a new and lasting epoch in naval administration. Thus besides being a part of Naval History, it also forms a chapter in Social History, a queer, poignant, naked-nerved chapter, which even at the present day contains lessons that have never been properly learnt.


Part 1 “The Breeze At Spithead”

  1. The Bolt From The Blue
  2. The Ferment Works
  3. The Critical Point
  4. Delicate Negotiations
  5. Interval At Spithead
  6. Untimely Effects Of Procrastination
  7. Bloodshed
  8. Balm—And Some Fruitless Research
  9. Gala Days

Part II “The Floating Republic” The Nore

  1. The Pot Boils
  2. “Between the Acting of a Dreadful Thing…”
  3. Their Immovable Lordships
  4. Drama
  5. Yarmouth
  6. Melodrama
  7. Signs Of Wear And Tear
  8. Collapse
  9. The End
  10. Causes: Lessons: Results