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Peter Reynolds (1750-1836)


Peter Reynolds (1750-1836) sailed on two voyages to the Pacific with James Cook.  He was a carpenter’s mate in Resolution during the Second Voyage, and carpenter in Discovery for the Third Voyage.  


According to both musters of both ships, Reynolds was born in Deptford in 1750.  


Peter Southey Reynolds was baptised on 29 March, 1750, at St. Nicholas, Deptford.  He was the son of a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, John Reynolds, and his second wife, Margrett.  John died in 1765 leaving his widow with several children.  Peter and at least one brother began working at Deptford dockyard as carpenters. 


On 9 December, 1771, Peter joined Resolution, appearing as number 9 on the muster roll.  He and Charles Clerke must have impressed each other as, just before the start of the next voyage Clerke wrote to the Admiralty Secretary, on 15 February, 1776,

Peter Reynolds, carpenter… late of Resolution… Reynolds now carpenter [of] Ariadne, - have appli’d to me and is very desious of the other trip to the South Seas.1


Two days later, Reynolds joined HMS Discovery as carpenter, appearing as number 11, N10, on the muster roll.  Both of his Cook voyages were uneventful, in that he is not named in either narrative. 


In late 1780, Reynolds was one of several Cook men who received further appointments. 

William Pickover, gunner; Peter Reynolds, carpenter; James Cleveley, carpenter; George Barber, carpenter; Thomas Cater, carpenter; John Lloyd, carpenter; Robert Mackie, Lieutenant; Alexander Mouatt, Lieutenant.2


And again in 1789.

Peter Reynolds, carpenter; William James Pugh, carpenter.3 


Reynolds then opted for life ashore and began working at Chatham Dockyard.  On 19 February 1796 he became “a superannuated carpenter of a third rate” ship.  In 1792, Reynolds married Jemima Wiseman, a widow with two surviving children.  


Jemima was the granddaughter of Thomas Arne (1710-1778), the musician and composer famous for writing “Rule Britannia” and a setting of “God save the King/Queen”, as well as numerous operas and works for the musical theatre at Covent Garden and Drury Lane.  His son, Michael Arne, was also a musician and composer of opera.  Neither man was good with money so their families were often in poverty.


Michael Arne (1740-1786) married the fifteen year-old Elizabeth Wright in 1766.  She was a noted soprano on the London stage.  She died in 1769, two years after the birth of Jemima Arne.  Jemima appears to have spent her childhood looking after her father and grandfather.  


In 1783, she married Edmund Wiseman, a carpenter at Chatham Dockyard.  Edmund’s father would later successfully lay claim to the Wiseman baronetcy of Canfield Hall in Essex, becoming Sir Thomas Wiseman, 6th baronet.  However, Edmund died in 1787.  He and Jemima had three children together, but only two were still alive when she married Peter Reynolds in 1792. 


Peter and Jemima had two sons, Peter and Edmund, neither of whom survived to adulthood.  During the 1790s, Jemima began singing publically as Jemima Arne, and was a minor success on the London stage.  She died in 1804.


Peter Reynolds raised Jemima’s two surviving children.  A boy, William Saltonstall Wiseman, succeeded as 7th baronet on the death of this grandfather in 1810.  He entered the Royal Navy rising to the rank of post-captain.  One of his sons with the same name played a significant role in the New Zealand Wars during the 1860s.  Jemima’s daughter, Mary Ann, married Thomas Frid, a seed merchant of Southwark in 1806. 


Peter Reynolds died in 1836 aged 86.  He was buried on 4 July 1836 at St. Margaret’s, Rochester, Kent.  In his will, proven 11 July, 1836, he left everything to the Wisemans.4 


John Robson



  1. ADM1/161.  At The National Archives (TNA), Kew.  See Cook’s Log, page 1817, vol. 24, no. 1 (2001). 
  2. Warrants or commissions for service at this rank in the Royal Navy.  ADM 6/22/190.  TNA. 
  3. Warrants or commissions for service at this rank in the Royal Navy.  ADM 6/23/530. TNA. 
  4. PROB 11/1864/462.  TNA.


Originally published in Cook's Log, page 25, volume 37, number 2 (2014).

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