I graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 2022 and received my bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in history, with anthropology and museum studies minors. My greatest passion has been maritime history, and I am thrilled and profoundly grateful for the opportunity provided by the Ertegun scholarship to continue these studies at Oxford. Having spent my life living and working on the Chesapeake Bay and other waterways on the Eastern Seaboard, I cherish the added perspective that learning the practicalities of sailing, building, and maintaining historic wooden watercraft has contributed to my understanding of the seafaring and coastal contexts of the past.
For the past several years, I have been particularly captivated by the momentous shifts that occurred in virtually every aspect of the shipbuilding industry in Tudor England. A field which previously bore all the hallmarks of a pre-modern craft industry was evolving in the bustle of the country’s growing dockyards into a distinct science guided by mathematical principles, concrete rules of design, and the hallmarks of what would become naval architecture. The sailing warship was coming into its own as a long-distance gun platform capable of ever greater overseas voyages, and likewise the shipwright was fashioning a new identity for himself as an educated gentleman who would interact with a wider intellectual community and bridge the gap between his workaday surroundings and the highest authorities of the realm. As the foremost shipwright during the reign of Elizabeth I and James I, Matthew Baker stands at the forefront of these and many other transformations, and the rich manuscript he composed throughout his career will be the primary focus of my studies as I read for my MSt over the course of this year. I hope to bring this relatively obscure but exceptionally influential West Country shipwright to greater attention using an approach which combines primary source analysis with practical experience and experimentation.
Outside of academia, working with boats, sailing, and being on the water are what I enjoy for fun as well as work, in addition to hiking, birdwatching, woodworking, archery, and creative writing.