Ian M Bates

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Champion of the Quarterdeck :

Admiral Sir Erasmus Gower (1742-1814)


This is comprehensive biography of Admiral Sir Erasmus Gower

Available now from the publisher's website.

See a recent book review by eminent naval historian John B Hattendorf in the US Naval War College Review (free download).


"Bates provides a highly detailed narrative description, with extensive quotations from original documents, describing Erasmus Gower’s naval career.

The book offers much detail of great interest to specialists in naval history.

Bates’s volume on Admiral Gower sheds light on the life and career of a very interesting and highly accomplished naval officer whose experiences scholars have overlooked for too long. The volume makes a valuable addition to the extensive literature on the age of Nelson and a useful reference volume for any library collection in that area of naval history."

Author Interview (18 minutes) Interview

The result of more than 25 years of research, this book is backed up by 41,000 digital files (12 Gigabytes of data), a library of personal books and innumerable Inter-Library loans. The first draft manuscript exceeded 480,000 words and editing down to the final 177,000 words (384 pages) took a decade.

Available now from the publisher's website.

Jacket of Champion of the Quarterdeck

Admiral Sir Erasmus Gower is little known today, having never been one to blow his own trumpet. From humble beginnings as a captain’s servant in 1755 he rose on his own merit, over more than 50 years, to the top of his profession.

Living by old-fashioned values of loyalty and service, Gower’s humanity and concern for others gained him the approbation and loyalty of his officers, crews and peers. Although recognised by his contemporaries as a leading navigator, he has been overlooked by historians until now.

While many Royal Navy officers achieved fame for leadership, isolated acts of bravery or great discoveries, Gower accomplished a diversified and esteemed career that no other officer in the Georgian Navy could claim to equal.

He was explorer, master navigator, commander-in-chief, Governor and diplomat. Having rejected great wealth for the sake of the Navy, he was knighted, conveyed a first-of-its-type diplomatic mission to China, charted unexplored seas, received the thanks of both Houses of Parliament and was pivotal in suppressing the Nore mutiny. He sat on the largest court martial in the Navy’s history, was appointed Governor of Newfoundland and a full admiral, having personally shared in the capture of more than fifty enemy ships during his career.

Every warship in the Age of Sail was a training ground for seamen, and every captain exerted extraordinary influence over his men. While some good men stumbled under oppressive officers, others thrived under thoughtful leadership such as Gower’s. A constant supporter of young men of promise, he championed and developed the careers of several of Nelson’s ‘Band of Brothers’ in what latter-day historians have termed ‘Nelson’s Navy’. Many others followed Gower from ship to ship and subsequently mapped out significant naval careers.

As an upright and loyal champion of His Majesty’s Navy during a career of remarkable exploits and achievements, Admiral Sir Erasmus Gower is to be celebrated for his unswerving devotion to duty and his training of many who were to follow in his footsteps with integrity and fortitude.

See the Contents and Illustrations pages from the book here

While Gower’s experiences might sometimes mirror Patrick O'Brian's fictional Jack Aubrey, this book is entirely factual, based on largely contemporary documents, many not previously published.

Available now from the publisher's website.


Available here