Treacherous Objects: A Jacobite compass in Australia?

This unique marine compass was retrieved in 1876 from the shipwreck of the Cygnet, a schooner that sank in Port Phillip Bay on the southeastern coast of mainland Australia. It was likely crafted by clockmaker Joseph Hughes in London sometime between 1818 and 1845. It is currently held in the collections of Museum Victoria, Australia. As an artefact, it stands at the crossroads of numerous paths of history: the global spread of the Scottish diaspora in the heyday of the British Empire, the rise and fall of Jacobite rebels in the eighteenth century, and the fascinating intersections of radicalism, sedition, and material culture. There is more to it, then, than meets the eye.

Read more about it in my recent feature for History Workshop Online.


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