This website tells the story a family that has served for six generations almost continuously in the Royal Navy from just before the Battle of the Saintes (1783), at the end of the American War of Independence, until after the Falkland Islands campaign (1982), two hundred years later.

It has only been possible to tell this story in any detail because four of the generations of the family kept diaries. Between them these diaries give one a picture of life in the Royal Navy between the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the end of the First World War. They also illustrate how a family was able to rise, as a result of their success in the Service, from comparatively humble origins at the end of the 18th Century to a distinguished position in society by the beginning of the 20th Century.

Within the family the conventional wisdom was that the diarists had led respectable and conventional lives. This was largely true. However the diaries have given one many leads, which with further research, have shown that some of the diarists' connections in the form of offspring, siblings, cousins and relations by marriage, have had rather more varied careers.

This combination of a naval setting and a collection of diaries and memoirs, covering nearly one hundred and fifty years, provides a story that has a surprisingly wide historical, geographical and social background. Having started during the Napoleonic Wars, their historical background covers the rise of the British Empire to the peak of its power in the late 19th Century and its subsequent decline during the 20th Century. The geographical spread is equally wide ranging. The King-Halls and their connections were, above all, an Empire family and their activities, both respectable and not so respectable, took place as far apart as Australia, China, India, South and East Africa, Canada and the West Indies.

Inevitably, in view of the profession of the four diarists, most of the activities covered in this website are connected with the Royal Navy. However there are other activities which between them cover a much wider range of human experience. These include: Indirect involvement in a royal divorce (not in the 20th Century); a political and sexual drama in early Australia; embezzlement in Canada; maritime disaster in mid-Atlantic; violent deaths in India; early exploration in E. Africa and to relax one after all these excitements; a friendship with P.G. Wodehouse.

This website was researched, edited and developed by the late Richard Perceval Maxwell. It is now managed by his daughter Jemima Perceval Maxwell, who can be contacted at

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