Collins, Greenvile (DNB00)

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COLLINS, GREENVILE (fl. 1679–1693), captain in the royal navy and hydrographer, was in 1679 appointed commander of the Lark, a small frigate, apparently in some connection with the duties of the Trinity House, of which Collins was a younger brother. In 1681 he was ordered to survey and chart the coasts of the kingdom, for which purpose he was appointed to command the Merlin yacht. This survey occupied the next seven years, the charts being published from time to time as ready, and it was not till 1693 that he was able to issue them collectively in a large folio, together with sailing directions, under the title of 'Great Britain's Coasting Pilot.' The scope of the work, embracing, as it does, the complete circuit of Great Britain, is very great, and for one man in seven, or even in twelve, years excessive. The charts have not, of course, the rigid accuracy of those of our own time, and some of them are possibly edited from Dutch originals; but with all their shortcomings they are an enormous advance on anything before them, and entitle Collins to rank not only with the earliest, but with the best of English hydrographers. The 'Coasting Pilot ' was printed by a namesake, Freeman Collins, who may have been a brother, but of his further life or family nothing is known.

[Preface and Dedication to the Coasting Pilot; Charnock's Biog. Navalis, ii. 60.]

J. K. L.