Beachy Head is a chalk headland on the English south coast, near Eastbourne in East Sussex. It has always been an important landmark for sailors in the Channel and, because of its exceptional height, it has also become a notorious suicide site.
Historically, it was known as Beauchef or Beaucheif (Fr. 'beautiful headland'), and it is interesting to note that it is marked Beau Cliff on the 17th century map which appears below.
The office of Lord Admiral, later Lord High Admiral, was created around 1400, and was the title given to the head of the Royal Navy. From the 17th century onwards, however, the Navy was commanded by a committee known as the Board of Admiralty, so that the title Lord Admiral was no longer given to any one individual.
The members of the committee were known as Lord Commissioners of the Admiralty, Naval Lords or Sea Lords. From 1806 onwards, it became customary to appoint a civilian as the First Lord of the Admiralty (the leader of the Admiralty Board) at which point the title First Sea Lord was given to the most senior Royal Navy admiral. Presumably, William Price is referring either to the First Lord of the Admiralty or to the First Sea Lord.
Sicily is a large Mediterranean island situated just off the southernmost tip of Italy.
Amber (the fossilized resin of trees) is to be found around the mouth of Sicily's Simeto River. Although amber is usually golden orange in colour, Sicilian amber (known as simetite) has a distinctive dark red hue and is, for that reason, highly prized.
Click here to see Sicilian amber.
The post, or post-chaise, was a fast closed carriage of the 18th and early 19th century. It had four wheels, was pulled by two or four horses, and accommodated two to four people. The driver(s) rode postilion on the near (left hand) horse(s). The post-chaise was designed for speed; for this reason, horses and postilions were often replaced several times during a journey at inns known as posthouses. Travelling by post-chaise was a particularly expensive way of travelling and was usually only for the well-to-do. Hired post-chaises were often painted yellow and were sometimes referred to as 'yellow bounders'.
Click here to see a model of a post-chaise.
The mail coach was the official means of transporting mail, although it also carried passengers. Mail coaches were generally very large vehicles with a seat for the driver, and seats for passengers inside and on top of the coach. They were generally pulled by teams of four or six horses which were regularly changed en route. It was a faster means of travel than the normal public stage coach as it placed less emphasis on the comfort of passengers.