Chatham Royal Dockyard, one of Britain's six Naval yards (the others being Portsmouth, Plymouth , Woolwich, Sheerness and Deptford), lies on the River Medway. During the Tudor and Stuart eras, it was a major Naval base in the wars against the Dutch, due to its location near the North Sea, but as the focus of war shifted westward in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, Chatham became a major centre for ship-building. Admiral Nelson's flagship HMS Victory was built here in 1759 and Nelson himself took command of HMS Agamemnon from Chatham on his promotion to Captain.

The Dockyard was the major employer for the men of the town, and soldiers and Royal Marines made up a large percentage of the population, though they were housed in nearby Fort Amherst and Fort Pitt (for the soldiers) and the Royal Marine barracks (for the Marines).
Chatham Dockyard

Chatham Dockyard in the late 18th century. By Joseph Farington

George Thompson was born in Chatham, only a few hundred yards from the Dockyard, and enlisted in the Chatham Division of Marines.

HMS Terpsichore was refitted at Chatham before being commissioned under Captain Bolitho in 1809.