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New Book on Matthew Fontaine Maury

Author and managing editor of Navy Times John Grady has published a definitive new biography, Matthew Fontaine Maury, Father of Oceanography: A Biography 1806-1873. This new book includes details on Maury’s life growing up in Tennessee, where the Society will have its annual meeting in 2017. The book was published in 2015 in Jefferson, North Carolina, by McFarland & Co., and the 354 page book includes a bibliography as well as an index. The summary on Mr. Grady’s webpage states:

“In becoming “a useful man” on the maritime stage, Matthew Fontaine Maury focused on the ills of a clique-ridden Navy, charted sea lanes and bested Great Britain’s admiralty in securing the fastest, safest routes to India and Australia. He helped bind the Old and New worlds with the laying of the transatlantic cable, forcefully advocated Southern rights in a troubled union, and preached Manifest Destiny from the Arctic to Cape Horn. And he revolutionized warfare in perfecting electronically detonated mines. Maury’s eagerness to go to the public on the questions of the day riled powerful men in business and politics, and the U.S., Confederate and Royal navies. He more than once ran afoul of Jefferson Davis and Stephen R. Mallory, secretary of the Confederate States Navy. But through the political, social and scientific struggles of his time, Maury had his share of powerful allies, like President John Tyler.

The book is available for purchase from

John Grady Book Cover


New Maury Book Available!

In January 2016 English author Derek Lunt donated to the Society’s library a copy of his outstanding book, James Maury Esq., First American Consul to the Port of Liverpool 1790-1829: A Social History of an American Consul in Liverpool. Self-published in 2014 based on an interest in Maury, this wonderful 236-page book is full of details of Maury’s life in Liverpool from his arrival in 1790 as the first consul of the new United States Government, appointed by George Washington, until his return in 1829. The book includes many color photos and details of Maury’s work as consul, as Virginia tobacco merchant, and as founder of the American Chamber of Commerce in Liverpool.

Copies of the book are available for purchase directly from the author for the price of £ 34 (this includes international shipping). To order, please send a check or money order made payable to “Derek Lunt” in British sterling (pounds) to:

Derek Lunt

30 Lincoln Road

Southport, PR8 4PR

Lancashire, United Kingdom

A check or money order in British currency can be obtained from large banks and travel services like Travelex.

U.S. Navy Accepts Deliver of the USNS Maury

In February 2016 the U.S. Navy accepted delivery of the USNS Maury, the seventh Pathfinder-class oceanographic survey ship. The USNS Maury will be used to perform acoustical, biological, geographical and physical surveys. The ship is named from Matthew Fontaine Maury, known as the Pathfinder of the Seas. Society members toured the Maury in October 2015 during the annual meeting weekend. The ship carries with it a copy of Ann Maury’s Memoirs of a Huguenot Family, donated by Society member Russell Hooper.

Join or Renew Your Society Membership for 2016!

All membership renewals or new memberships paid at or after our annual meeting in October 2015 will be for 2016! For members who are renewing, please remember to contact the Society`s Membership Secretary with any address changes, death notices, or other changes in membership status. You can use the form on our Membership page and send to:

Membership Secretary

The Fontaine Maury Society

P.O. Box 307

Tehachapi, CA 93581-0307

The Society would also like to create an e-list for our members. Please be sure to provide your e-mail address when you join!

Digitalized Version of Jaques Fontaine’s Memoirs Now Available!

In collaboration with the Special Collections of the University of Virginia, the Fontaine Maury Society sponsored the digitization of Jaques Fontaine’s (1658-1728) handwritten copy of his memoirs made for his children living in Virginia. In November 2015 the University added photos of each page of the digitized memoirs to its on-line library catalog. Please take a look at the 229 photos of the document.

Jaques made two handwritten copies, the other for his children living in Britain which is believed to be lost. It is believed that this copy was in the possession of Jaques’ son, the Reverend Peter Fontaine (1691-1759), Rector of Westover Parish in Virginia, who passed it to his descendants. Generations later, it was in the possession of descendant James Fontaine who lived at “Rock Castle” in Hanover County, Virginia, at the time of the American Civil War. Fontaine and his family were driven from their home by Union troops, returning to find everything scattered and destroyed. However, a Union officer saved the manuscript and provided it to the Fontaines’ neighbor, Mr. Quarle, for safe-keeping and for return to James Fontaine.

The document is badly damaged, with 69 pages missing (a sword having gone through it). It was translated into English by Jaques’ descendant, Ann Maury, who published the first English edition in 1838. The document descended from James Fontaine to James Fontaine Minor; it was from his library that the document was placed in the University of Virginia’s collection for preservation by Mr. and Mrs. George Madison Maverick.

The document is available for review in the Special Collections, University of Virginia, Minor Family Papers, call numbers MSS 6769, 6769-a.

Society member Dianne W. Ressinger prepared an edited and annotated version, Memoirs of the Reverend Jaques Fontaine 1658-1728, that was published in 1992 by the Huguenot Society of Great Britain and Ireland, in New Series No. 2. The Huguenot Society has copies available on CD for purchase.

Announcing The Society’s Annual Meeting Locations for Next Two Years!

During the October 2015 annual meeting, the Society’s Executive Committee selected the sites for the Society’s annual meetings in both 2016 and 2017.

In 2016 the annual meeting will focus on Hanover County, Virginia, with a theme being considered for how the Civil War impacted the Fontaines and the Maurys. The Fontaine Farm, recently purchased by the Civil War Trust with Society assistance, was the primary location of the Battle of the North Anna River as Grant moved south in an attempt to outflank Lee’s Army as he tried to take Richmond. It was in the aftermath of that battle that the only surviving copy of the Memoirs was rescued from a bonfire by a Union Officer at a Fontaine property. Beaverdam and the Fontaine Cemetery are also in the area. Stay tuned for more details.

The 2017 annual meeting will be held in Franklin, Tennessee, an area founded by early Maury family members, was the home of politician Abram Poindexter Maury (1801-1848), and later home of Matthew Fontaine Maury, Pathfinder of the Seas. There are many Maury sites to visit in the area including the Abram Maury Cemetery.

Report on The Fontaine Maury Society’s 2015 Annual Meeting October 30-November 1, 2015, in Oxford, Mississippi

The Society’s 2015 annual meeting was held in Oxford, Mississippi, the weekend of October 30, 2015. This was the first time that the Society meets in Mississippi. Northern Mississippi is rich in Fontaine history with descendants of three children of Jaques Fontaine – Francis, Peter, and Mary Ann – settling in the area. Our weekend was organized by Society member, Dr. Hubert McAlexander, a renowned author and lecturer on Southern literature who is retired from the University of Georgia.

The weekend began with a business meeting on Friday night, October 30, that included reports from the Society’s officers and election of a new director. Judge Toby Winston, a direct descendant of Patrick Henry Fontaine, presented a fascinating history of the Fontaines of Mississippi, beginning with Patrick Henry Fontaine, the first grandchild of the Patriot Patrick Henry. Patrick Henry Fontaine studied law under the tutelage of his famous grandfather. He was sent to Pontotoc, Mississippi, in 1835 to open the Federal Land Office and administer the transfer of Chickisaw land, which amounted to millions of acres.

On Saturday morning, October 31, Society members visited the City Cemetery in Pontotoc that has an entire section filled with Fontaines including Patrick Henry Fontaine. Next Judge Toby Winston graciously hosted a visit to his home that included viewing paintings of early Fontaine family members. The last stop of our tour was at Lochinvar, a large old plantation house once owned by Fontaines. It is the only plantation house in the area to survive the Civil War. Research has shown that the owner of Lochinvar during the Civil War was Colonel James Gordon of the Confederate Cavalry. He had been in charge of transporting 1,100 Union prisoners to Confederate headquarters in Tennessee. He treated them with kindness and consideration and saw to it that they had adequate provisions. Union General Coburn, senior officer among the prisoners, presented his sword to Colonel Gordon along with a note of thanks. Gordon sent the sword and note to his wife, Virginia, at Lochinvar. Six weeks later when Union troops approached Lochinvar to raid and burn it, Virginia saw the Union troops approaching and rushed outside to show them the sword and note from General Coburn. Consequently Lochinvar was spared, the only Confederate plantation house not raided and burned in the area. We were shown the sword and the note that saved Lochinvar. In 2001 a tornado nearly leveled Lochinvar but it was renovated and today has been restored to its original glory. A steel beam in the spiral staircase in the center of the building, the only access to the upper levels, is credited with preventing the complete destruction of Lochinvar by the tornado.

Our final activity was a talk by Dr. Hubert McAlexander Saturday evening following dinner at the Ole Miss Inn about the Maurys of Mississippi.

Russell Hooper, editor of The Pathfinder Papers, has arranged a Sunday tour of theUSNS Maury, named for Matthew Fontaine Maury, an oceanographic survey ship under final construction. This tour has been on the website, and Hooper will be present at registration.

November 1, 2015, Visit to the USNS Maury in Pascagoula, Mississippi – A Side Trip from the 2015 Annual Meeting

On November 1, 2015, after the Society’s October 30-31 annual meeting in Oxford, Society members were hosted by the U.S Navy and VT Halter Marine, Inc., to go on-board and tour the USNS Maury, an oceanographic survey ship under construction in Pascagoula, Mississippi. TheMaury is the latest ship named for Matthew Fontaine Maury, the Pathfinder of the Sea. The tour provided a unique opportunity to visit the ship and share history of the family with the staff and crew. A first edition of Ann Maury’s 1855 edition of Memoirs of a Huguenot Family by the Reverend Jaques Fontaine was donated as a thank you gift for the visit; the ship’s captain confirmed that it will be kept on the ship and sail with it.

Winston Genealogical Chart Available on CD!

The library has most of its books available in PDF on CDs and some available via e-mail at the fraction of the cost of a hardcopy. We now have Marie Rauschenberg Rice’s large Winston circular genealogical chart available on CD! This family tree, 25×25, is suitable for framing, simply take it to a printers to print on the paper of your choice. The earliest known Winston is at the center of the chart, with subsequent generations identified in the concentric circles. The chart includes the family of Mary Ann Fontaine (1718-1780s), daughter of the Reverend Peter Fontaine (1691-1759) who married Isaac Winston (1715-1766), and other allied families to the Fontaines and Maurys, including the Armistead and Dabney families. For more information about ordering, visit the library page!

Biography of Matthew Fontaine Maury by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

Did you know that that National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency published a tribute biography about Matthew Fontaine Maury? This 74 page book was written by Howard J. Cohen of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (now renamed National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency), a U.S. Department of Defense agency responsible for managing and providing imagery and geospatial information for diverse military, civil, and international needs. The book includes a summary of tributes to Maury, including photographs of Maury, buildings, ships, and places that carry Maury’s name, and provides a brief bibliography. A first edition was published in 2003, this more comprehensive version was published in 2006 by the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, then in Bethesda, Maryland.

As stated in the introduction of the booklet,

“He pioneered methodology and analysis in a broad spectrum of areas nearly 100 years before we coined “tradecraft.” Today, NGA and its partners throughout the National System for Geospatial Intelligence (NSG) are the stewards of the tradecraft borne out of his legacy and provide the nation with a critical capability—geospatial intelligence (GEOINT). Analysts continue to build on his methods and practices by discovering and exploiting new sources of information, leveraging deep intellectual capital and integrating innovative practices and technology. The result is quality GEOINT that precisely describes, assesses, and visually depicts spatial information, physical features, and geographically-referenced activities on the Earth. Analytical tradecraft is the cornerstone of GEOINT’s substantial contributions to the nation. NGA and NSG analysts currently support America’s decision makers in national security policy, international obligations, intelligence activities, and military operations. In the tradition of Maury and his fellow pathfinders, the dedicated analytical workforce continues to strive for high standards and constant innovation, pushing the limits of the tools and technology available to discover, exploit, and analyze source information. In all of our mapping and charting work, we take inspiration from the excellence of Matthew Fontaine Maury as we strive to ‘Know the Earth – Show the Way.’”

The booklet is dedicated to the late Captain James Maury Werth, U.S. Navy (retired), great-grandson of Matthew Fontaine Maury and, following in Maury’s footsteps, Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Observatory from 1968 to 1972. Captain Werth was a long-time member of our Society.