Skip to main content

Manuscript Sketchbook of Augustus Bowen

 Single Item
MS. 21500
Held in our offsite storage facility

  • Request

Augustus Bowen's manuscript sketchbook, with clasp, containing 24 detailed pencil sketches of scenes on the east and west coasts of Africa and Madagascar, of ships and waterfalls in Canada, of shorelines in England and of a Malta yacht. The majority of the sketches have a description in pencil on the verso. A visiting card (fol. i) is enclosed, 'Augustus F. Bowen. Lieutenant R.N. Sussex Lodge, Netley Hill'.

The sketches comprise:

  1. fol. 4 Shore with ship [not described]
  2. fol. 5 Portait of an African man dated 1825 [not described]
  3. fol. 6 'A Marble Pillar found by HMS Leven 1825 On Cape Negro West coast of Africa supposed to have been erected by Vasco da Gama in 1484. 12 feet'
  4. fol. 8 'African Huts on Delagoa Bay East Coast of Africa'
  5. fol. 10 'Madagascan house belonging to King Radama'
  6. fol. 11 'The Hippopottamus of Delagoa Bay East Coast of Africa'
  7. fol. 14 'Sofala Fort East Coast of Africa'
  8. fol. 15 'A brig homeward bound'
  9. fol. 17 'The only remains of Malinda found by HMS Leven in 1823. SE coast of Africa. Vasco da Gama reached Malinda and erected this tower April 22nd 1498 after a [sic] of nine months from Portugal.'
  10. fol. 19 'Appearance of a distant Tornado on the SW coast of Africa'
  11. fol. 21 'Part of Sherbro Island W coast of Africa'
  12. fol. 22 'The celebrated outlaw Slave Brig "Soleil" captured by HM Frigate Leven on the SW side of Madagascar bound to the Island of Mauritius 200 Slaves on board commanded by A.F.J. Bowen Midshipman'
  13. fol. 23 'Cape Babelmandel: point of entrance to the Red Sea, 1824'
  14. fol. 24 'Zanzibar'
  15. fol. 25 'Canada. River Chaudieu from the West bank above the falls in Winter, 1828'
  16. fol. 26 'Surveying - HM Sloop Rose 10 gus Lt Bowen Commander. Her Majesty's Surveying Schooner Beaufort Labrador Lieut AF Bowen Commanding, his Surveying Boat in foreground'
  17. fol. 27 'Falls at St Thomas 30 feet in height, 1828'
  18. fol. 28 'A view near Flushing'
  19. fol. 30 'Kingsdown near Dover, England'
  20. fol. 32 'A Marble Pillar found by HMS Leven 1825 on the SW coast of Africa supposed to have been erected by Vasco da Gama in 1464 [sic]. 15 feet'
  21. fol. 34 'The Ruins of a Portuguese Catholic church now converted into a Mohamitan burial place in which Lieut Reitz Royal Navy was buried as a mark of respect who died while commanding as Governor at Mombasa, East Coast of Africa, 1824 [?] claimed the protection of the British Govenment (while blockaded by the Arabians) and was guarded by Capt Owen HMS Leven'
  22. fol. 37 'The Colonial Brig of Sierra Leone. Bearing the flag of His Excellency Gnl Turner after a skirmish with the Ashantees on her return to Sierra Leone, 1825'
  23. fol. 39 'Caulkers Village, Plantain Islands, West Coast of Africa, 1826'
  24. fol. 40 'Malta Yacht Boar. 38 feet by 9 feet. Southampton and Tasmania'


  • Creation: 1820s


1 box

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 21500, folio 1].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.


MS. 21500

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 21500


Manuscript sketchbook of Augustus Bowen, 1820s.

Biographical / Historical

Augustus Frederick James Bowen was born in 1812, the son of Captain William Hawkwell Bowen RN and Susannah neƩ Parker. He entered the Royal Navy in 1821 and was involved in surveying Africa, Madagascar, the Seychelles and parts of India and Arabia while attached to H.M.S. Leven, Barracouta and Albatross. In 1827 he was selected to join Henry Wolsey Bayfield's survey of the St Lawrence River and the coast of Labrador.

As recorded in the sketchbook, Bowen was involved in the capture of the French slave ship 'Soleil' (also known as 'Tigre') which HMS Leven, commanded by Captain Fitzwilliam Owen, seized at St Augustine's Bay on the south west coast of Madagascar in May 1825. The sketchbook description suggests that Bowen commanded the 'Soleil' on its voyage to Port Louis, Mauritius, where the captives were freed.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Blackwell's Rare Books in 2021 with the support of the Kenneth Rose Fund.

Catalogue of the Manuscript Sketchbook of Augustus Bowen
Finding aid prepared by Lucy McCann
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom