International Guild of Knot Tyers

How to make Knots, Bends and Splices as used at Sea by Biddle, Tyrrel E, Norie & Wilson.

How to make Knots, Bends and Splices as used at Sea by Biddle, Tyrrel E, Norie & Wilson.

First published 1880. Republished by Read Books Ltd, 2018 ISBN 9781528783491


This small booklet has only 22 pages, including the five pages of advertisements for yacht, boat and canoe fittings, charts, and various nautical publications.

In addition to a short description of the various materials used in rope manufacture, and illustrations of cable-, shroud- and hawser-laid rope, the author also describes some 35 of the most familiar knots, bends and splices (surprisingly, not the bowline). There are brief details on splicing, worming, parcelling, serving and pointing, and disadvantages of wire rigging.

The booklet, in short, achieves its author’s purpose of showing such knots, bends and splices as to meet any “moments of difficulty or danger”.

It was first published in 1886. The edition I found by chance is undated, but published sometime between 1903 and 1939. This, and TE Biddle’s major work, The Corinthian Yachtsman, or, Hints on Yachting, (first published in 1881), are still in print, and re-published regularly.

David Hesketh

DH adds:

Both TE and his brother, RF Biddle, had been Merchant Navy officers under sail, and were model yacht enthusiasts for most of their lives. On retiring from the navy, TE wrote, and RF painted.

John William Norie, born in London in 1772, was a mathematician, hydrographer, chart-maker, author and, later, publisher. J Norie & Co. was founded in 1813 in the Naval Warehouse at 157 Leadenhall Street, London (now demolished). It is not known when George Wilson joined the company. Norie retired to Edinburgh in about 1840, and died there in 1843.

Charles Wilson, son of George, took control in about 1841, and after Norie’s death, the company was renamed Norie & Wilson. Charles died before 1882 and, at about that date, the business was relocated to 156 Minories, London. In 1903, the company was amalgamated with two others, becoming Imray, Laurie, Norie & Wilson Ltd. In 1939, and was relocated to its current address in St Ives, Cambridgeshire.

JW Norie wrote Norie’s Epitome of Practical Navigation and Nautical Astronomy, and Norie’s Complete Set of Nautical Tables, which are still supplied to navigators across the world.

According to the present company, Nautical Tables has been a best-seller for over 200 years.
(The Naval Warehouse in Leadenhall Street was referred to by Charles Dickens in Dombey and Son. The small figure of a midshipman with a sextant, displayed outside the premises, was saved before the building was demolished, and is now in the Charles Dickens Museum.)