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Biography & Autobiography Political

Master and Madman

The Surprising Rise and Disastrous Fall of the Hon Anthony Lockwood RN

by (author) Peter Thomas & Nicholas Tracy

Goose Lane Editions
Initial publish date
Mar 2012
Political, Pre-Confederation (to 1867), Historical
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2012
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    Publish Date
    Mar 2012
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Shortlisted, Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing

Despite the coming social reforms undertaken at home, the world of the Georgian British Empire was nothing if not class-conscious and leery of outsiders. But Anthony Lockwood, with no known certain record of his parentage and whose first appearance in history is his signing onto the USS Iphigenia in Jamaica in 1795, certainly broke through this mould. His naval record almost exactly spanned the French wars and the War of 1812, and he was commended for bravery in action against the French, was present at the Spithead Mutiny, shipwrecked and imprisoned in France, appointed master attendant of the naval yard in Bridgetown Barbados, and served as an hydrographer in the English Channel and the West Indies before beginning a three-year marine survey of Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy. All of this certainly seems eventful enough, but he was just getting started.

Despite being an "outsider", Lockwood was able, due to his experience in the Navy, to acquire an appointment as the Surveyor General of New Brunswick and become the right-hand man to Governor George Stracey Smyth. Also appointed as Receiver General, his rise to the top of society seemed all but assured — despite the "handicap" of his low birth. But was he accepted or only tolerated by the aristocratic high New Brunswick society?

On June 1, 1823, after several days of confronting authorities, picking fist fights, and riding from one side of the province to another, Lockwood took to his horse, brandished two pistols, and declared that he was taking over the government. This one-man coup d'etat failed, and he was declared mad. Jailed and later placed under house arrest, it would be November 1825 before he was officially removed from office and went home to England, where he spent much of the rest of his life in and out of asylums. With his own destruction of many of his records as well as the loss of more to a shipwreck and a fire, the story of Anthony Lockwood was a difficult one to research. With an exhaustive bibliography and notes, here, for the first time, is the bizarre, true story of Lockwood's almost unprecedented rise and disastrous fall.

About the authors

Peter Thomas, a devoted fly fisherman, is also the author of three books of poetry. Among his prose works are The Welsher, a novel, and Strangers from a Secret Land, about Welsh settlement in Canada, which won the Welsh Arts Council's annual award for a work of non-fiction, and the Canadian Historical Association Regional History Award. A resident of Fredericton for many years and a former professor of English at the University of New Brunswick, he now lives in St. Andrews, New Brunswick.

Peter Thomas' profile page

Nicholas Tracy is an adjunct professor of History at the University of New Brunswick, with his research focusing mainly on naval and seapower history from the age of sail to the present. He is an Associate of the Gregg Centre for the Study of War and Society, a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and Visiting fellow of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London. He currently lives in New Brunswick.

Nicholas Tracy's profile page


  • Short-listed, Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing

Editorial Reviews

"Master and Madman, nominated for the 2013 Atlantic Book Awards for historical writing, is not a novel, but it contains some of the essential elements of an engrossing fiction: social ambition, suspense, disappointment, and the perverse workings of fate."

<i>The Fiddlehead</i>

"The authors... convincingly argue, in this intriguing look at a little-known corner of Canadian history, that Lockwood's grand gesture on that spring day in 1823 was ‘both mad and meaningful.’"


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