English Master Peiran, mariner, privateer, pirate, author, and inventor who
developed parabolic reflectors for lighthouses and helped establish the world's
first lifeboat station.
Hutchinson was a seaman by the late 1730s, serving on an East Indiaman trading in India
and China. After service in the Royal Navy, he entered the employ of merchant and
privateer Fortunatus Wright. Hutchinson was captured by the French in 1746 but by 1748
was master of the ship St. George, which captured a French ship. A voyage in 1750 as
captain of Wright's ship the Lowestoft ended in shipwreck, and Hutchinson later claimed
that only a timely rescue saved him from being eaten by the survivors in his lifeboat, as he
had drawn the short straw. After time ashore in Liverpool, he later returned to privateering,
captaining the 22-gun frigate Liverpool (1757-8).
In 1759, Hutchinson was appointed dockmaster at Liverpool, and he held this and other
positions at the harbour until 1793. In 1764 he started keeping detailed tide and weather
records, and his data - the earliest continuous set of tidal records in the United Kingdom -
contributed to the production of Holden's Tide Tables, which continued in use until the
1970s. In 1777 he first published A Treatise on Practical Seamanship..., which went
through a number of editions and by 1794 was titled A Treatise on Naval Architecture...; it
contained Hutchinson's advice and ideas on seamanship, ship design, and other maritime
subjects, as well as autobiographical material.
Around 1763 Hutchinson installed what may have been the first parabolic reflector in a
lighthouse in the Leasowe Lighthouse, and later at a lighthouse in Hoylake. He also
experimented with oil-burning lights for lighthouses, invented a new rudder and a better
quick-priming mechanism for large guns, and worked with Dr. Thomas Houlston on better
methods of artificial respiration for drowning victims. He helped establish the world's first
lifeboat station, at Formby.
In 1789 Hutchinson helped found the Liverpool Marine Society for indigent seamen,
widows of seamen, and their families; and contributed 100 guineas.
He did all this and more yet he was a Pirate and with strong Corsair connections and
spoke Tuscan (early Italian.) Of course in his allegiance with Fortunatus Wright a few
people may have been killed but imagine how many thousands of lives have been saved
by his mirror, his tide tables and his lifeboats, then add all the astonishing broad spectrum
of advances he made in maritime history.
A Pirate and a very great man.
Original pics of Formby lifeboat station and crews.
Master Peiran. 1715 - 1801