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National Maritime Museum

Royal Navy: Sailing and Fighting Instructions


Reference code(s): GB 0064 SIG/A

Held at: National Maritime Museum

Title: Royal Navy: Sailing and Fighting Instructions

Date(s): [1673-1815]

Level of description: sub-fonds

Extent: 3 1/2ft: 140cm

Name of creator(s):


Administrative/Biographical history:


Scope and content/abstract:

The collection of 153 volumes of sailing and fighting instructions include the majority of those listed in Sir Julian Corbett, Signals and instructions (Navy Records Society, 1908). In addition, there are many examples of those issued to smaller squadrons rather than fleets. The earliest is a printed copy of 1673 issued to James Duke of York (1633-1701). There is a copy of 1691 by Admiral Russel (1653-1727), issued in 1702. Subsequent sets show the development which took place up to the Seven Years War. From 1756 onwards additional and supplementary instructions became more numerous. The collection also contains several versions of instructions for ships in convoy, 1708 to 1815. In addition to these single items, there are sets in the personal collections. The most extensive, of thirty-four volumes, is that of Admiral Duncan, 1760 to 1799, including signals and instructions issued during the American War, convoy instructions for 1782 and a number of sets from the 1790s. Other sets of significance include those of Vice-Admiral Duff, 1748 to 1762, including convoy instructions, 1756 and 1758, and printed instructions for disembarking and re-embarking troops, which were issued by Admiral Rodney (1719-1792) for the landings at Marinique, 1762; of Rear-Admiral Clements, 1758 to 1770; and of Captain Lord Longford, 1779 to 1780.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Finding aids:

Detailed catalogue online at the: National Maritime Museum website .


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:



Archivist's note: Edited by Sarah Drewery, Sep 2011.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: 2010-08-26

Maritime warfare | Warfare | Military engineering
Naval operations | Military operations | Military engineering
Seven Years War (1756-1763) | World wars (events) | Wars (events)
Ships | Vehicles | Transport

Personal names
Corbett | Sir | Julian Stafford | 1854-1922 | Knight | naval historian
Duncan | Adam | 1731-1804 | 1st Viscount Duncan | Admiral
James II and IV | 1633-1701 | King of Great Britain and Ireland
Rodney | George Brydges | 1719-1792 | 1st Baron Rodney | Admiral
Russell | Edward | 1653-1727 | Earl of Orford | Admiral

Corporate names
Royal Navy