Arthur Ransome Wiki
James Turner
Names and aliases:
James Turner

Jim Turner
Uncle Jim
Captain Flint
Captain James Flint, Lord Mayor of San Francisco

San Flancisco
Tall (as in Dutchman, WH21)
Enemy of Swallows and Amazons (initially)

Ship's Carpenter for Swallow (SD7)

Captain of Wild Cat
Native Residence:
Future career:
...her brother Mr. Turner that's for ever gallivanting off to foreign parts (Mrs Newby, PP1)
When he looks at stars with Dick and was late for supper, Mrs Dixon says growing older and travelling round the world brought no sense to some folk (WH23)
Velly uncultured man (Miss Lee, ML14)
"I should like to bring it off, just for once." ... " You know he never has" (found treasure) said Nancy (PD10)

Captain Flint, real name James Turner, is the brother of Molly Blackett and uncle to the Amazons. He is a tall and strong man, tending to stoutness, a bachelor who enjoys adventurous travelling often with the aim of finding his fortune by prospecting for minerals. As it happens he gains his largest fortune by writing a very successful memoir of his adventures titled Mixed Moss.

Early life[]

James and Molly were orphaned during their childhood; not even the names are known for Grandfather Turner or Grandmother Turner.

They were brought up by their Aunt, Maria Turner: They’re much more afraid of her than we are. You see, she brought them up (SD3). There are several references to incidents in his childhood and youth: the 1901 ascent of the Matterhorn with Molly and Bob Blackett, who marries Molly (SD27). Peggy recalls that he saw a fisherman sink his boat by rowing into Pike Rock (SD4), and Nancy says he used the The Dog's Home when he was a little boy (PM4).

Jim remembers Swallowdale valley though he had not been up there for twenty years (SD10). He even knows of the cave, which he called Ben Gunn’s Cave and had carved Ben Gunn’s name in it more than thirty years ago (SD13). He came back from abroad to see the lake frozen over as it’s a long time since we had a winter as this (WH21). He came back for the skating, and to enjoy seeing the lake frozen from end to end as he had seen it when he was a boy (WH23).

He went to Oxford University, but chucked Oxford before Oxford made up its mind to chuck me, I went off to see the world instead (ML16). Though he did not low for Oxford, in the study there are some cups Uncle Jim got for rowing (PM21). He was in prison once, for grabbing a policeman's helmet on boat-race night, in a year when Oxford won (ML4,16).

Peggy said He brought the parrot from Zanzibar. He’s been all over the world. Mother says he was the black sheep of the family when he was young, so he was sent to South America. But he didn't stay there. He went everywhere. (SA11). Once, on a hint of treasure, he crossed the Andes, travelling day and night (PD6)

A rolling stone[]

The places Captain Flint has been are alluded to in the descriptions of the items in his houseboat and study. His book Mixed Moss, by A Rolling Stone (Pub. 1930, 8th edition 1931) is mentioned when he was writing a book in (SA11), and in (SD7,8).

In the houseboat mention of Colombo and Hong Kong; also assegais, boomerangs, emus eggs, gourds and tomahawks (SA25). His cabin trunk has labels from hotels in Upper Egypt, San Francisco, Buenos Ayres, London, Rangoon, Colombo, Melbourne, Hong-Kong, New York, Moscow and Khartoum, and from the Chinese Eastern Railway and several shipping lines including the Bibby Line, Dollar Line, P & O and Nippon Yusen Kaisha (SA28). Later, mention of Ceylon, Shanghai and Omdurman, also a knobkerry and boomerang (WH14), and things from Africa, the Malays, and South America (WH21). In PD10, Captain Flint is described as having visited the Malays, Java and South America.

In the study there are the queer things hanging on the walls; spears, shields, a knob-kerry and the jawbone of a big fish (PP2), the savage weapons on the walls, the jawbone of a huge and long-dead fish (PM19), and ... a bundle of spears, a couple of spotted leopard-skin shields, and an assegai, a club with a large rounded knob at the end of it, and the jawbone of some big fish, dried and mounted on a wooden plaque (WH8).

Captain Flint had been a gold miner (PD21) and his study had books about mining (WH8) and mining-related instruments e.g. a mortar and pestle (PP7). These facts point to an interest in mining before his absence looking for gold in South America at the beginning of Pigeon Post, when he sent a telegram from Pernambuco in Brazil saying This wild goose lays no eggs .... (PP2). He was with Timothy high on a mountain-side in South America when they talked of new ways of prospecting for copper on the fells: It's just as we guessed above Pernambuco ... those old miners knew nothing about gosson as a sign of good copper (PP35). Later Timothy says he was only wanted by the police once: Only in Peru .... Did your Uncle Jim never tell you about the time when he and I ... Oh, never mind about that (PM21).

He mentions being in a ship’s gig against the coast of Java (SD7, and (to Roger) I’ve been a ship’s boy myself ... It’s a hard life (SA26). He has seen a high bridge in the Himalayas (ML17). He has been in Malaya as where he hears Gaelic spoken while locked up by The McGinty he says If omly these chaps were Malays .... Gaelic simply isn't fair (GN24).

older or younger?[]

The books are not explicit as to which of Molly or Jim is younger. The Billies refer to the pair as Miss Turner she was then... [and]...Master Jim (SA13). In the convention of the times, oldest children would retain the title Miss or Master [surname] while subsequent children were called Miss or Master [first name] -- this implies that Molly is the older. In the Japanese translations Jim is described as being the younger brother to Molly Turner. Molly's name appears first in the inscription in the cairn on the Matterhorn.


Nancy and Peggy call him Uncle Jim and he acts as an indulgent father figure to them, as they are fatherless following the death of Bob Blackett. He joins in their adventures and gives them Amazon;


At the end of Swallowdale Captain Flint climbs the tree on Wild Cat Island. They see the lantern hanging from the tree; and decide someone has taken the trouble to climb those thirty feet of smooth trunk to hang a rope over the bough .... , and think that someone else has occupied the island. But when they charge the camp, and find their own tents there and Captain Flint asleep, he says Hot work, you know, shifting all those things down to the launch, and that tree takes some climbing (SD36).

Treachery and the Black Spot[]

James Turner makes himself an enemy of the Swallows, especially when he suspects them of letting off a firework on the houseboat roof and later when the houseboat is burgled and his manuscript of Mixed Moss is stolen. Titty observes that he must be a retired pirate when the Swallows first see him and his parrot writing his book aboard his houseboat in Swallows and Amazons. When they tell the Amazons that he is a retired pirate, Nancy names him Captain Flint. She tips him the Black Spot deposing him as Uncle.

Peace, war and defeat[]

Captain Flint is quickly convinced that the Swallows were innocent and following the Battle of Houseboat Bay he becomes a staunch friend and ally. He gives Polly to Titty when she and Roger find the stolen manuscript on Cormorant Island.

More treachery?[]

Although swearing loyalty to the Amazons and Swallows after the Battle, it is interesting to note that Captain Flint falls in league with the natives again. He is notably unavailable for adventure in Swallowdale, Pigeon Post and The Picts and the Martyrs, but returns from foreign parts in time to help with the North Polar Expedition in Winter Holiday. He is only fully present in Peter Duck, Missee Lee and Great Northern? – books which are often considered "metafictional" stories within the Swallows and Amazons series.

Native prototype[]

Arthur Ransome himself is often believed to be one of the originals of Captain Flint. In 'Their Own Story', Captain Flint is suspected of, and denies, writing Swallows and Amazons.