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Royal United Services Institution: Naval Manuscripts

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0064 RUSI
Held at: National Maritime Museum
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Full title: Royal United Services Institution: Naval Manuscripts
Date(s): [1626-1903]
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 15ft: 457cm
Name of creator(s): Royal United Services Institution


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Royal United Services Institution was formed in 1916. In the previous year Lord Lynedoch had formed a General Military Club which merged with the Navy Club soon after the opening of its first premises. It is now known as the Royal United Services Institute.


Scope and content/abstract:

Naval manuscripts collected by the Royal United Services Institution. The manuscripts almost all relate to the Royal Navy. There are in addition eight personal collections of naval officers which are described in Volume I: those of Altham (entry no.3), Beaver (14), Broughton (31), Burt (34), Henderson (132), Holburne (136), Oliver (217) and Riou (247).
List of ships and officers: In all there are twenty lists of the ships in the Navy, c 1685 to 1880, some giving dimensions, armament and other details; one of 1780 lists His Majesty's armed vessels on the Canadian lakes and the St Lawrence; another of 1880 includes ships in European navies. The lists of naval officers consist of accounts of Flag Officers, 1660 to c 1755; captains, 1660 to 1715, 1688; and a list of french naval officers, 1792. In addition there is a list of naval chaplains, 1626 to 1903.
Orders and Regulations: The earliest of the orders are General Instructions to be observed by commanders of His Majest's ships, 1683, and three volumes of orders and letters to the joint Admirals commanding the fleet, 1693, one of the volumes containing orders from the Admiralty and another those from the Queen. Related to these are the proceedings of the Councils of War held by the Admirals, 1693. There is also an index to the General Naval Instructions, 1803. relating to the management of the fleet are Vice-Admiral Byron's (1723-1786) sailing and fighting instructions, 1778 to 1782; St Vincent's orders and memoranda, 1800 to 1802; and orders received on board the VALIANT, 1807 to 1808. Regulations for the management of ships include Captain (later Admiral) Thomas Graves' (1747?-1814) standing orders for the MAGICIENNE, 1782, and the orders of Captain (later Admiral) Richard Goodwin Keats for the SUPERB, 1804. Also of note are the Port Orders issued in 1811 by the Commander-in-Chief of ships in the River Thames, Sir Charles Hamilton (1767-1849). Logs and Journals: The logs record the voyages of nineteen ships, 1755 to 1837. The earliest were kept on board the TERRIBLE, 1755 to 1756, and the MARLBOROUGH, 1756 to 1757; the others include the logs of the MELPOMENE, 1803 to 1805; the VALIANT, 1810 to 1814; and VOLAGE, 1833 to 1837. of the journals, the earliest was kept by Thomas Lawrie (fl.1757-1759) on board the AMAZON while in the West Indies, 1757 to 1759. There is a copy of the account of the mutiny on the BOUNTY, 1789, by John Fryer (1752-1817); an account of 'a voyage from Batavia in the island of Java' to England on board the BENGAL MERCHANT, 1815; and another of a voyage from Sydney to Pitcairn and Norfolk islands on the MORAYSHIRE, 1856, by Lieutenant George Gregorie of the Royal Marines. There are two journals by naval chaplains: the earliest was kept by Henry Sainsbury in the DEFENCE mainly in the Mediterranean, 1795 to 1797, and the later one by an unnamed chaplain in a ship on the South American station, 1897. More varied in content are the memoranda books of Lieutenant William Bryan Wake, 1782 to 1799.
Letterbooks and Letters: The collection includes a small number of letters and letterbooks, some personal and some official. There are six letters by Nelson, 1794 to 1805; two by Collingwood, 1805 and 1809; two by St Vincent 1789 and 1810; and some letters and papers relating to Sir Charles Douglas (d.1789), 1776 to 1830. Letterbooks include two kept by Captain (later Rear-Admiral) John Bythesea (fl.1846-1906), despatches and orders received, 1846 to 1862, and letters sent, 1856 to 1868; and one kept by Colonel and Chief Staff Officer of the Portsmouth Dockyard Volunteers, 1848. Naval
Administration and Law: Relating to various aspects of naval administration are a number of warrants.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

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 Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The collection was transferred from the Royal United Services Institution in 1968.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The signal books and fighting instructions which were part of this collection were transferred to the Ministry of Defence Library in 1968.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Edited by Sarah Drewery, Mar 2012.

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:

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