Navy Board In-Letters Project, 1689-1701

It will be five years this July that our team of Navy Board In-letters volunteers: Derek, Roger, Terry, David, John and Fred, have so far provided full page summaries to seventy-six of our volumes from the archive. This is over more than double what had been achieved only two years ago.

By Mike Bevan, Archivist

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We have 22,700 page entries uploaded to date and our number two years ago was 12,607 records. The aim is to have the letterbook page summaries uploaded for the period 1689-1701; which could be completed, continuing at the same rate, in three years’ time.

I am pleased to say that those volunteers on the project who started in 2013 will receive a recognition award at this year’s NMM volunteer’s party on 5 June 2018; which will take place during National Volunteers’ Week.

These are calendars/brief descriptions, now available online, of the content of the letters for the years 1689 to 1701 (ADM/A/1758 – ADM/A/1884), during the reign of William III and beginning with the departure of Samuel Pepys as Secretary to the Admiralty, soon after the Glorious Revolution.

How to browse the records

The page level descriptions are now available via our archive catalogue

This link is a search set up to browse all of the page level records within the ADM/A collection (to do this type ADM/A* in the search and browse box AND tick the finding reference box AND select ‘page from ‘Level’). You can then tick the ‘search within results’ box in order to focus the search by trying keywords such as ‘desertion’ (67 results).

A few more items of interest from the project this year

David came across a letter recently from the Admiralty Commissioners to the Navy Board, dated 10 April 1693 concerning Mr Thomas Copping, Rector of the Parish of St Olav Hartstreet, to be appointed Minister and Preacher of the Word of God, on ships lying in ordinary and rigging at Deptford and in navy yachts at Greenwich. Mr Copping is to be paid four pence a month allowed out of every man’s pay. (ADM/A/1794/55). 

Here is an example picked out by Derek concerning the crew selling off goods from a prize vessel and then running off, dated 25 January 1693:

'We are informed by a letter of the15th inst; to our Secretary from Lieutenant Jonathon Poynton of the ADVENTURE, that the eleven men named in the margin belonging to the said Ship, and put on board the Prize lately taken by her and brought into Pembroke, have sold what they could of the said Prize and Run away from her. We direct you to cause a stop to be put to the payment of any part of the Wages of the said eleven Men for their service in the ADVENTURE until further Orders from this Board.' (ADM/A/1791/338)


The next item is something found by Roger concerning the poor state of the buildings at Woolwich, dated 12 May 1693:

Referring to complications having arising with the management of the Yard at Woolwich together with proposals for new buildings and a brick wharf and approving an Estimate for undertaking the necessary works. (ADM/A/1795/126)


For highlights from our archive cataloguing programme 2017/2018 please take a look here