Lion Rampant: Duncan Dunbar and the Age of Sail
History, mystery and the rise and fall of an incredible dynasty.
≈ About Michael Rhodes
Michael Rhodes combines a writer’s passion for Dunbar with an analytical and investigative legal mind to render a story of rare scope. A sailor himself, Michael also brings a sensibility for the sea to this tale, together with a well-researched approach.
In 2017, Jardine Matheson granted Michael access to their business records, now held by the University Library, Cambridge. Recognising the merit of this project, the University granted Michael access to the restricted Special Collections section of their library, to study the documents attesting to the rise of Dunbar.
Michael travelled widely throughout the UK for this project, tracing records and meeting descendants of Duncan Dunbar and his associates. His application for a visa to visit the sites of the Second Opium War in China was granted with no restrictions. That visit allowed direct observation of the Bocca Tigris area and forts near Humen in Guangdong Province, the nearby Opium Burning Ponds and adjacent museums.
Thanks to those travels and subsequent visits to the UK, Michael secured photos and copies of original records in Duncan Dunbar’s own handwriting. These records completed the essential sources of information for this first-ever biography of the man who dominated the English shipping trade in Asia, and the migrant trade to Australia and New Zealand.
The author, a New Zealander by birth, was educated in Apia, Samoa and Wellington College, New Zealand. He migrated to Australia in 1966, graduating in Law at Sydney University in 1972. His career combined law with a diversity of interests in the commercial, industrial, agricultural and entertainment sectors. A love of travel and history led to extended research of maritime matters, with a focus on the life of Duncan Dunbar II.
Back in Australia from their global travels (for the time being!), Michael Rhodes and wife Patti now split their time between Sydney and the Gold Coast.
‘Lion Rampant: Duncan Dunbar and the Age of Sail’, Michael’s first book, has been embraced worldwide. He is currently working on his second book, a gripping biography written as fiction, replete with intrigue and espionage, set during World War II.
Lion Rampant Duncan Dunbar and the Age of Sail
By Michael Rhodes
Follow the rise of Duncan Dunbar from Thames wharf to prominence as one of England’s greatest shipbuilders and shipowners, boasting a fleet larger than the Royal Navy’s and a presence that was global.
A third of all arrivals to Australasia were on Dunbar’s ships, with his ships also present at the Crimea, Indian Rebellion and Second Opium Wars. With an agent in every port and a house flag recognised on the seven seas, he also founded insurance companies and banks. In the day, his name was as recognisable as Cunard and P&O.
Moving in elite circles, his contemporaries included Jardine, Matheson, Rothschild, Lord Panmure, Baring, Hankey and several prime ministers including Gladstone.
At the time of his death in 1862, his estate was estimated at £1,600,000, (more than £61,600,000 in today’s money), the third largest Probate ever granted in England.
High Praise for Michael’s Work
“A great raconteur in person, Michael Rhodes has turned his talents to writing a thoroughly compelling tale. He has not only explored in rich detail the history of the 19th century global expansion but has also brought to vivid life the man who drove much of that growth. The story of Duncan Dunbar is remarkable – how his business nous, friendship network, membership of London’s most prestigious clubs and interests in banks and insurance companies amassed him untold fame and fortune. This is a must read. I couldn’t put it down.”
Helen Wellings, Television Journalist.
“This book is an excellent reminder of the risks involved in the early days and the
ingenuity used prior to the Suez Canal opening. It is a wonderful read about an
extraordinary man who helped to lay the foundations for the modern Merchant Navy.”
AMIMarEST, Chief Engineer, RMS Queen Mary
I’ve just finished reading your book on Duncan Dunbar. It’s a tremendous piece of work. I can’t imagine the amount of research you have put into this. It was a privilege to read it and I thank you for writing it.
Alex - Senior British maritime executive
Just finished a second reading of 'Lion Lion Rampant' (one of the first times I have read a book twice over in a short space of time, which must say something). I would have to say that I do not rest easily with History Lite, but it did grow on me,
“This meticulously researched book details Duncan Dunbar and his magnificent fleet of ships. He was at the forefront of the expansion of the British Empire developing trade and emigration.
Barry Ashworth, Director, E.W.Taylor (Forwarding) Ltd. The 4th Owners of Dunbar Wharf since 1790
Just finished your book which I did enjoy. Particularly loved the synthesis of the Victorian mercantile era from what must have been an immense amount of material that you had amassed...... Enjoyed the traversing of the Captains’/Commanders’ lives, as the contrast at sea and in the East with the commerce in London is well balanced but worthy of perhaps another foray in the future..... I will be passing on the other copy, into the shipping world, in a couple of weeks when I see my friend. I am sure he will love the antecedents as he knows shipping history quite well, particularly in the Far East.
Received your book and have read it with great enjoyment and interest.
Richard Williams - Royal Blackheath Golf Club
I have just finished reading your book. There is so much information to draw on. There could easily be several books to come out of it if one would expand on certain topics.
“ ......this book is an excellent reminder of the risks involved in the early days and the ingenuity used prior to the Suez Canal opening. It is a wonderful read about an extraordinary man who helped to lay the foundations for the modern Merchant Navy.”
Thomas Betteridge - AMIMarEST, First Engineer, RMS Queen Mary
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