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Magdalene Fellows - Ms Sara Caputo

Dr Sara Caputo

Dr Sara Caputo is a Junior Research Fellow at Magdalene. She is Acting Director of Studies in History (Part IA) and Acting Joint Director of Studies in History and Politics (Part IA).

My main areas of interest are eighteenth- and nineteenth-century transnational maritime history and British and European imperial history. I work on the cultural, social, technological, medical, and geographical history of maritime mobilities and exchange.

I have just completed a book entitled Foreign Jack Tars: The British Navy and Transnational Seafarers during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Forthcoming with Cambridge University Press, it investigates the legal, social, cultural and diplomatic context of transnational 'encounters' and employment aboard British naval vessels, drawing on primary sources from British, Dutch, Italian, Maltese, and American archives, as well as further material from Denmark, Norway, France, Germany, and Spain.

This project stems from my doctoral thesis, which was selected as joint winner of the University of Cambridge Prince Consort and Thirlwall Prize and Seeley Medal, and as winner of the British Commission for Maritime History Boydell & Brewer Prize for best doctoral thesis in maritime history completed in the UK.

I am also working on two new projects:

  1. A second book, under contract with Profile Books, entitled Tracks on the Ocean, investigating the history of Western cartographical representations of maritime travel. For more background on the origins of this project see here.
  2. A comparative and transnational history of naval medicine in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British, French, and Spanish Navies, including a perspective 'from below'.

I am an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and I lecture and supervise on British, European, and World History (Faculty of History, Part I Papers 5, 10, 21, Part II Paper 24, and Historical Argument and Practice), as well as the early modern history of medicine in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science.

Research Interests

  • Transnational history
  • Maritime and naval history
  • History of migration
  • ‘Long’ eighteenth century
  • History of cartography
  • History of language
  • History of medicine
  • Quantitative historical methodologies


  • BA History (Hons), Cardiff University
  • MSc History, The University of Edinburgh
  • PhD History, University of Cambridge

Career/Research Highlights

  • Dr Sara Caputo wins string of awards
  • 2018-19 Scouloudi Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research, London
  • 2015-18 Lewis-AHRC Scholarship, University of Cambridge, Robinson College
  • 2015-18 Honorary Vice-Chancellor’s Scholar, University of Cambridge

Selected Publications


Foreign Jack Tars: The British Navy and Transnational Seafarers during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (Cambridge University Press, in press).

Tracks on the Ocean (Profile Books, under contract, forthcoming 2023).

Winner of the Ideas Prize, 2021.

Scottish Young Gentlemen in the British Royal Navy, 1791-1818 (Boydell & Brewer for the Scottish History Society, under contract).

Winner of the Scottish History Society Rosebery Prize, 2020.

Journal articles

'Treating, Preventing, Feigning, Concealing: Sickness, Agency, and the Medical Culture of the British Naval Seaman at the End of the Long Eighteenth Century', Social History of Medicine (2021).

Shortlisted for the Roy Porter Prize, 2018.

‘Mercenary Gentlemen? The Transnational Service of Foreign Quarterdeck Officers in the Royal Navy of the American and French Wars, 1775-1815’, Historical Research 94:266 (2021), 806-26.

Joint winner of the Sir Julian Corbett Prize, 2020.

'Exploration and Mortification: Fragile Infrastructures, Imperial Narratives, and the Self-Sufficiency of British Naval “Discovery” Vessels, 1760–1815', History of Science, special issue 'From Hansa to Lufthansa: Transportation Technologies and the Mobility of Science' (OnlineFirst, 2020).

'Alien Seamen in the British Navy, British Law, and the British State, c.1793 - c.1815', The Historical Journal 62:3 (2019), pp. 685-707.

'Vers une histoire transnationale de la marine britannique au XVIIIème siècle / Towards a Transnational History of the Eighteenth-Century British Navy’, Annales Historiques de la Révolution Française, 397 – Perspectives Transnationales, 1780s-1820 (2019), pp. 13-32.

‘Scotland, Scottishness, British Integration and the Royal Navy, 1793-1815’, The Scottish Historical Review 97:1 (2018), pp. 85-118.