The online library catalogue will be temporarily unavailable from about midday on 10 October to about midday on 12 October 2012, due to preparatory work involved in getting the library catalogue server hosted externally by SirsiDynix.
The online library catalogue should be available again from around midday on the 12th October.
SirsiDynix is the company who is responsible for the library catalogue, who will be working on copying over the library catalogue data, carrying out testing and doing any required work on the new server.
We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience this will cause. Archive and Library staff will do their very best to place staff and reader requests for library items on the Aeon online ordering system, in the absence of the online library catalogue.
Please contact email@example.com if you would like us to place requests on your behalf.
However, the Archive and Library unfortunately cannot guarantee to be able to place library requests during this period, for technical reasons.
Staff and reader requests for manuscript items in Aeon will continue to be available throughout this period and will be unaffected by the work on the library catalogue.
The Archive and Library would like to thank their readers in advance for their patience.
Readers of the blog may be interested to learn that a project to digitise the Museum’s collection of masters’ certificates has been completed. The certificates are now available to search and view via the genealogical website ancestry.co.uk. The Ancestry website also features a guest blog from our very own Mike Bevan!
The masters’ certificates are a fantastic resource for researchers interested in somebody who served in the merchant navy as a master or mate between 1845 and 1927. You can find out more about them by reading our research guide, available here.
Whilst sites such as Ancestry allow access to manuscripts from anywhere in the world, this particular archivist still thinks there is a certain pleasure to be had from viewing the original document. In addition to free access to Ancestry from our reading room computers, the Caird Library remains the only place where researchers can get their hands on the real thing!
For August’s item of the month I have selected the Board of Trade certificates for James Pollock (1838–1910), founder of the shipbuilding and engineering company James Pollock, Sons & Co Ltd.
Graham (Archives Assistant)
A visit to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford last weekend has piqued my interest in the capture of the Westmorland: an armed merchantman. The exhibition, entitled ‘The English Prize, The Capture of the Westmorland: An Episode of the Grand Tour’, reveals the fascinating story of an English merchant ship that was captured by the French on 7 January 1779.
The Westmorland left Livorno under Captain Michael Wallace with a cargo that included 57 crates of objects collected by aristocrats on the Grand Tour. These Grand Tourists included Francis Bassett, Prince William Henry and Charles Howard. The ship was chased by four French ships consisting of the Caton, Destin and two smaller vessels. Being outnumbered and outgunned, Captain Wallace surrendered and was forced to Malaga. It was at this point that the valuable works of art were sold to the Spanish King, Charles III, for 360,000 silver reales; a substantial amount. Many of the items were then presented to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid. The archives in Madrid have been able to trace the history of the cargo and have discovered what became of the artefacts. For information about the exhibition see: http://www.ashmolean.org/exhibitions/westmorland/.
Included in the displays is a letter of marque against France, dated 20 August 1778 from the National Archives at Kew and their High Court of Admiralty records. There is a letter from Thomas Jenkins, a key agent in Rome, writing to William Legge, 2nd Earl of Darmouth, informing him of the acquisition of items made by his son, Lord Lewisham. The Archive at the National Maritime Museum holds several letters written by Thomas Jenkins from the John Wilson Croker collection of Nelson letters.
After visiting the exhibition, my immediate thought was to whether I could find anything interesting about the capture and dispersal of items from the Westmorland in the NMM’s manuscript collection. Having conducted a brief search, it seems that this task would prove very difficult. However, if any of our readers find anything of interest, please let us know!
The image on the right shows a ship’s model from the NMM’s collection. It is the Atalanta of c.1775 and the model can be found in the Ashmolean’s exhibition. It has been used as an example of a vessel similar to the Westmorland.
Mike (Assistant Archivist)
Anybody investigating the activities of the Royal Navy during World War II will be used to visiting the National Archives at Kew. However, July’s item of the month shows that a treasure trove of information can be found here at the Caird Library, particularly in the series of Admiralty Movement Books.
Gregory (Assistant Librarian)
As the public return to the Cutty Sark, June’s item of the month recalls the ship’s first royal opening in Greenwich, 55 years ago this month.
Gareth (Reader Services Librarian)
As some of you know already, the Caird Library will close from 2 July to 4 September inclusive due to the preparations and holding of the Olympics equestrian events in Greenwich Park. See temporary closure of Library http://www.rmg.co.uk/researchers/library/visiting/caird-library-temporary-closure-due-to-olympics for more information. The Library will reopen on Wednesday 5 September at 10.00. Written and telephone enquiries, and the remote reprographics service will also resume from this time.
Last order dates for viewing offsite material in the reading room, and for reprographic orders, is 12.30 on Thursday 21 June.
Last order dates for viewing prints and drawings and charts and maps in the reading room is 15.30 on Thursday 28 June, for viewing in the reading room on Friday 29 June. The last day that the Library will be open is Saturday 30 June.
We’re sorry for the inconvenience caused to Library users. Archive & Library staff will be using the closure period to rehouse offsite collections to bring them onsite, and to reorganise other stored material to make future retrievals more efficient.
Eleanor (Head of Archive & Library)
The Warship Histories is an alphabetical index of Royal Naval vessels, originally compiled by Commander Pitcairn-Jones but with later additions and corrections. Whilst the published list of naval vessels, by J.J. Colledge, gives similar information in some respects – technical details, launch and fate – Pitcairn-Jones’ index goes further. The index records captains’ dates of commission and, in many cases, actions in which the vessel has participated.
Due to the size of the undertaking some weaknesses are inevitable in the Warship Histories. However, for the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries they represent the most accurate combined index thus far produced. Information for this period was taken from the “list books” at the National Archives, Kew which record all vessels in commission, who was in command, and where the vessel was stationed. The sample was drawn by consulting the lists for July of every year (although it should be remembered that vessels may have gone out of, or come into, commission during the intervening months). For the 19th and 20th centuries, the Navy Lists were the main source used. Outside periods of hostilities, however, the sample was only taken every five years and once again commissions may fall within the intervening period and hence not be recorded.
The length of entries to be found in the Warship Histories is dependent on the type of vessel, for instance line-of-battle ships would normally be laid up in times of peace whereas frigates would often see a more continuous service during these times. This was particularly the case in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries. For the 20th century, material between the two world wars is not consistent, for example the First World War “C” class cruisers have had their inter-war service covered in great detail whereas this is not the case with many vessels which served in both world wars.
Unfortunately the Warship Histories has not yet been digitised or made available online. Additionally, the poor quality of print obtained from the microfiche means that we tend not to take remote orders to print from this resource as we would do for many other texts. Therefore the only practical method of consulting the source is to come to the Caird Library where prints from the fiche are available. On a positive note we are now open six days a week with a late evening on Thursday. No advance notice is required to consult the Warship Histories as it is available in the reading room.
Warship histories / [Chris Ware, J.J. Colledge, Charles Gray Pitcairn Jones]
Physical description: 84 microfiches (ca. 264 frames each)
Publication info: London: National Maritime Museum, 1986.
Gregory (Assistant Librarian)
Inspired by discoveries made on a recent holiday to France, May’s item of the month is a look at a rare book from the Library’s collection. The Voyage of La Perouse round the world in the years by Jean-François de Galaup, Count of Lapérouse, is a finely illustrated account of an eighteenth-century exploration.
Eleanor (Head of Archive and Library)
Last month we explored how to conduct family history research when one’s relative is currently in the Merchant Navy. Today let us investigate the very same query but this time about an individual still serving in the Royal Navy.
Caird Library staff have written several research guides on various maritime related topics. The guide entitled ‘Research guide B3: The Royal Navy: Sources for enquiries’ may help you learn how to seek information on a person who is serving in the Royal Navy. The research guide can be found on our website at http://www.rmg.co.uk/researchers/library/research-guides/the-royal-navy/research-guide-b3-the-royal-navy-sources-for-enquiries.
We have extensive collections of books, photographs, paintings, prints, drawings and manuscripts dealing with most aspects of the Royal Navy, thus it is always worth searching the Library Catalogue or the Archive Catalogue. However, it is important to stress that the service records of the Royal Navy for approximately the last 90 years are still deposited with the Ministry of Defence. These records should be transferred to The National Archives from the Ministry of Defence when they are 75 years old. So if your relative was in the Royal Navy, you might visit the Veterans UK website for information about how to request a summary of their service record from the Ministry of Defence. Bear in mind that these records are not available to members of the general public so you have to be the subject of the record or next of kin. It is also worth pointing out that before 1972 all Royal Navy personnel were given their records when they left the service. The surviving records until that date only contain basic service details and lists of postings.
The Royal Navy publishes an annual list of active and reserve officers, and a biennial list of retired officers. Editions of the Navy List date from 1814 to the present day. Although the amount of information shown in these lists changes with time, they record officers (retired and active) and ships, where ships were stationed, pay scales, uniform regulations, etc. Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) officers, including the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR), were also included in the Navy List from 1862, so this is a ‘must check’ if one’s relative is a Royal Naval Officer of the 20th century. As The National Archives holds most Admiralty records – including official logs of warships, muster rolls, pay books and all personnel and service records of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, up to at least 1920 – you might be able to find information there too.
The National Archives
Surrey TW9 4DU
Tel: +44 (0)20 8876 3444
The Ministry of Defence, Directorate of Personnel Support (Navy) office controls all service records for the years approximately 1920 to at least 1955 which have not yet been passed to The National Archives (excluding Royal Marines). Please note as it was mentioned earlier that information can only be given to next of kin.
Ministry of Defence
Directorate of Personnel Support (Navy)
TNT Archive Services
William Nadin Way
Tel: (+44) 01283 227913
Fax: (+44) 01283 227942
The Ministry of Defence, NPP (Acs) AFPAA office controls service records for the period after approximately 1955. Please note that as always information can only be supplied to next of kin and unfortunately they can only be reached by mail.
Ministry of Defence
AFPAA (C) NPP (ACS) 1E
Hampshire PO13 9XA
Gregory (Assistant Librarian)