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Love Constable (1752-1794)


Love Constable sailed with Captain James Cook on his Second Voyage.  He was born on 4 March, and baptised on 17 March, 1752, at St. Mary Magdalen, Woolwich.  He was the second child of seven, and oldest son of Love and Mary (née Man) Constable.  Love appears regularly as a first name in the Constable family.  


Love Constable, Jr., joined HMS Adventure as a midshipman on 7 December, 1771.  He became an AB on 1 January, 1773, and a midshipman again on 19 December, 1773.1  During the voyage, he kept a journal dating from 6 December, 1771, to 14 March, 1774.2  He later served in HMS Hussar for three years as an AB and master’s mate, then in HMS Conquestador for six months, also as master’s mate.


Constable received his lieutenant’s commission on 28 March, 1781.  He served as second lieutenant in HMS Santa Margaretta under Captain Elliot Salter in July 1782, when they captured the French ship L’Amazone.  They were pursued by French ships, and Salter was forced to release their prize.  I believe Constable served as lieutenant in Hebe from 1786, Courageux from 1790, and Queen from 1793.  While in HMS Queen he encountered James Anthony Gardner, then a midshipman.  Gardner would later write that Constable was “an excellent sailor and an indefatigable first lieutenant.  The devil on board, but an angel on shore”.3


Constable advanced to become a commander on 28 October, 1793, and on 3 November, 1793, he took command of the sloop HMS Swan.  He relinquished that command on 28 February, 1794. 


Constable married Elizabeth Peck on 10 December, 1792, at St. Mary Magdalen, Woolwich.  They had a daughter, Elizabeth, who was baptised in December 1794.  She died, and was buried on 12 April, 1796, at St. Nicholas, Plumstead.  Constable, himself, died the month of his daughter’s birth, leaving a will, proven on 12 January, 1795, in which he left everything to his wife, Elizabeth.4  Constable named as his executor a Benjamin Pidcock of Woolwich, who himself died in 1796, leaving a son, also called Benjamin Pidcock.


The younger Benjamin Pidcock worked at the Woolwich Dockyard, and married Catherine Mary Constable on 16 December, 1812, at St. Mary’s, Portsea.  Catherine Mary, who was presumably related to Love Constable, was born about 1791, on St. Kitts in the West Indies, and died in Woolwich in 1869.  Love’s brother, Richard Constable, was bondsman at his niece’s wedding.


Richard Constable died in 1821.  In his will, which describes him as Master Sailmaker at Portsmouth Dockyard, he mentioned his niece, Catherine Mary, married to Benjamin Pidcock of Woolwich Dockyard.  Also mentioned was his sister, Elizabeth, married to Thomas Schofield, a maltster, then living in North America, as well as two nephews.


Those who are interested in Captain James Cook, and the men who sailed with him, now have more information about the career, personal life, and family of a sailor with a very unusual name.


John Robson


Lieutenant’s certificate for Love Constable


In pursuance of the directions of the Right Honourable the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, signified to us by Mr. Stephen's letter of the 19 December 1780, We have examined Mr. Love Constable who by certificate appears to be more than twenty eight years of age, and find he has gone to sea more than six years in the Ships and qualities under-mentioned (viz)


Ship Quality Y M W D
Adventure sloop Midshipman 1 0 3 4
Adventure sloop Able seaman 0 12 2 2
Adventure sloop Midshipman 0 8 1 2
Hussar Able seaman 0 1 2 2
Hussar Master's mate 2 9 3 3
Conquestador Master's mate 0 6 0 4
  Total 6 0 1 3


He produceth Journals kept by himself in the Hussar and Certificates from Captains Pole of his diligence and sobriety: He can splice, knot, reef a sail, work a ship in sailing, shift his tides, keep a reckoning of a ship's way by plain sailing and Mercator; observe by sun or star, and find variation of the compass, and is qualified to do the duty of an Able Seaman and Midshipman. Dated at the Navy Office.

Charles Middleton, Edward Le Cras, Captain North



  1. It seems to have been a regular policy on Cook's voyages to move young men around in terms of their position – AB, midshipman and master's mate – to provide experience, etc.  The moves were not necessarily a form of punishment. 
  2. ADM 51/4520/7-8.  The National Archives (TNA). 
  3. Gardner, James A.  Recollections of James Anthony Gardner: Commander R. N. (1775-1814).  Navy Records Society.  1906. 
  4. PROB 11/1254.  TNA. 

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 46, volume 39, number 1 (2016).

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