A Sailing Guide to the Colonies of South East Asia
By HECKFORD, N[athaniel] , 1882

Practical Sailing Directions and Coasting Guide From the Sandheads to Rangoon, Maulmain, Akyab, and Vice Versa, with a table for the Dangerous Gulf of Martaban, sets and currents, and Descriptions of the Land. To which is added Directions for the Entire Bay of Bengal and the Straits of Malacca

Maritime & Military
  • Author: HECKFORD, N[athaniel]
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: H. Hughes
  • Publication date: 1882.
  • Physical description: Octavo (220 by 140mm), 148pp., 2pp testimonials, with lithograph plate, bound in original cloth, slightly worn.
  • Dimensions: 172 by 213mm. (6.75 by 8.5 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 18225


In the aftermath of the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Britain consolidated its rule over the subcontinent by transferring authority from the British East India Company to the Crown. The official inauguration of the Raj naturally resulted in increased interest in and travel to India, and consequently there was more demand than ever for guide to sailing to, in and around the subcontinent. Captain Nathaniel Heckford, who had been stationed in Calcutta throughout the mid-nineteenth century, responded to this demand with his ‘Practical Sailing Directions and Coasting Guide’, first published in 1859 and subsequently appearing in numerous editions: the present edition is the expanded eighth edition published in 1882.

The work contains extensive description of the seas of south east Asia, with instructions as to handling the tides, monsoons and other obstacles faced by sailors. The most significant addition to the eighth edition is a chapter entitled “Practical Sailing Directions for the Straits of Malacca”; the European community in the Malay Peninsula grew steadily throughout the 1880s as British influence was strengthened in its Crown Colony of Malacca. No doubt for this reason, Heckford’s directions include Pulo Pera to Singapore, Calcutta to Penang, and Madras to Penang. Instructions are also given for the dangerous approach to the coastline of Burma, as well as for safe passage through the Bay of Bengal. The present edition also contains a lithograph plate illustrating the “Entrance to Kyouk Phyoo Harbour, 3.5 Miles Distance.” At the end of the book there is a full index listing numerous ports and islands, as well as a number of testimonials from readers who found previous editions of Heckford’s guide invaluable in their travels.


1. Brentano Collection
The Collection of Antonia Brentano, daughter of Johann Melchior Birckenstock (1738-1809), whose collection of prints she inherited. Antonia married Franz Brentano, and the collection was sold in Frankfurt in 1870.

2. Ownership stamp of Vernon John Watney, Cornbury to loose front endpaper.
Vernon John Watney (1860-1928) was the son of James Watney (1832-1886), MP for East Surrey and member of a brewing family. Vernon John was chairman of Watney & Company’s Brewery from 1887-1898. From 1889-92 he was a Moderate Party member of the London County Council representing Westminster. He was Master of the Worshipful Company of Brewers for 1893-94. In 1901 he bought the estate of Cornbury Park, Charlbury, Oxfordshire. He was High Sheriff for Oxfordshire for 1908 and a member of Oxfordshire County Council, serving as vice chairman in 1927.


  1. NHG Hollar 913-924 - all first state
  2. Pennington 2164-2175 - all first state.

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