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Henry Lambert’s Telescope

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This telescope belonged to Captain Henry Lambert, who commanded HMS Java in the battle with USS Constitution on December 29, 1812. Lambert died on January 4, 1813 from a musket ball wound he received in battle. He was buried in Sao Salvador, Brazil, where he was delivered with other British prisoners after the battle. The telescope appears to have been passed down to Lambert through his family and, in turn, was passed on to his descendants after his death.

The telescope is inscribed with the names of four Lambert descendants on the brass draw: Adm. Robert Lambert. / Capt. Henry Lambert, R.N. / 1812 / Adm. Sir George Robert Lambert. G.C.B / Vice Adm. Rowley Lambert. C.B.

A telescope was a critical shipboard navigational tool. Nearly every officer was likely to have his own, readily available to observe the horizon when another ship was sighted or landfall was made. Telescopes were made in a variety of sizes and can be lengthened by single, double or triple draws for greater magnification. Wider lens were designed to gather more light, improving vision at night. This particular telescope is a single-draw daytime model made by John Dollond, an optician who developed a successful business in optical instruments in London.

All the Lamberts listed on the telescope rose to success in the British Royal Navy. Captain Henry Lambert, the son of naval officer Robert Lambert, was born in 1784 and joined the Royal Navy at age 16.

Date Created
19th Century

Wood, Brass, Rope, Glass

[Diam]2 1/4 in. [L]21 3/4 in.

Catalog Number

Credit Line
USS Constitution Museum Collection.

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