AIM25 : Click here to go back to the AIM25 homepage
Archives in London and the M25 area


Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0064 LBK
Held at: National Maritime Museum
  Click here to find out how to view this collection at ›
Full title: Letterbooks
Date(s): 17th century - 20th century
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 9ft: 274cm
Name of creator(s): Various


Administrative/Biographical history:



Scope and content/abstract:

The fifty-four letterbooks which have been acquired individually are predominantly naval, dating from the seventeenth to the twentieth century. The Napoleonic war period and the nineteenth century are most fully represented. Unless stated otherwise, it can be assumed that the items are copy letterbooks and not bound volumes of original letters. Of the six seventeenth-century letterboooks the largest is that of official correspondence of Samuel Pepys (1633-1703), 1662 to 1679, which also contains some shorthand in his own hand. (Some of these letters are reproduced in Helen Truesdell Heath, ed., The letters of Samuel Pepys and his family circle (Oxford), 1955)) There is a bound volume of 15 original letters and legal documents written by Sir Anthony Deane ([1638]-1721), shipbuilder and member of the Navy Board; the letters, dated from 1662 to 1679, are to a merchant, Sir Robert Clayton (1651-1704). For the same period there is a letterbook of George Monck, Duke of Albemarle (1608-1670), with some shorthand, written between 1665 and 1666 while he was joint Commander-in-Chief. Additionally, a small volume containing two letters by Monck, 1652 and 1663, includes some contemporary pamphlets and prints. A slim letterbook of Sir John Narbrough (1640-1688), when in command of the FORESIGHT, 1687 to 1688, consists of letters and reports written by him when recovering treasure from a Spanish wreck off Hispaniola. There is also an early eighteenth-century volume of copies of over a hundred letters written by James II to George Legge, Lord Dartmouth (q.v.) between 1679 and 1688. The earliest letterbook of the eighteenth century is that of Vice-Admiral John Baker (1660-1716), aboard the STIRLING CASTLE commanding in home waters and the Mediterranean, 1708 to 1709. A private letterbook of an officer who cannot be positively identified, kept between 1727 and 1731, includes a list of men killed and wounded at the siege of Gibraltar, 1727. It gives detailed dimensions of the ROSE at the same period, a description of travels in Italy, 1731, and of St John's, Newfoundland, 1732. Six letterbooks (some of which also contain orders) of Admiral Sir Piercy Brett (1709-1781) all relate to the Channel when Brett was in the LION, 1745 to 1746, the NORFOLK, 1757 to 1758, DEPTFORD, 1760, ST GEORGE, 1760 and the NEWARK, 1761. There is a small volume of in- and out-letters and orders to and from Prince William Henry (1765-1837). These date between 1786 and 1788 when the Prince was in command of the PEGASUS in home waters, 1786, in the West Indies from 1786 to 1787, and in Canada in 1787. Finally for this period is a letterbook of John Pearse, commander of H.E.I.C.S. EDGECOTE, 1747 to 1750. Thirty-one volumes relate to the Napoleonic Wars, the first of which is a bound volume of eighteen original letters, 1793 to 1804, from Admiral Collingwood (q.v.) to Sir Edward Blackett (d.1804). There follows a book of seven private original letters from Lord Mulgrave (1755-1831) to Collingwood , 1807 to 1809; a letterbook of Admiral George Berkeley (1753-1818) when in command on the coast of Portugal, 1809 to 1810; original letters from Admiral Sir John Borlase Warren (1753-1852) to Lord Melville (1771-1851), First Lord of the Admiralty, written mainly between 1812 and 1814 from Halifax, Nova Scotia, when he was Commander-in-Chief, North America ; a letterbook of John Jervis, Lord St Vincent for 1806 and 1807, when Commander-in-Chief of the Channel Fleet, and a letterbook of Admiral Sir Charles Penrose (1759-1830), 1813 to 1814, when commanding the PORCUPINE. At this time the ship was off the coast of France, collaborating with the army under the Duke of Wellington (1769-1852), to whom a large number of the letters are addressed. Examples of volumes belonging to officers of lesser rank include that of Lieutenant (later Captain) Robert Ramsay (fl 1779-1815), in the EURYDICE, home waters and North America, 1807 to 1808, and in the MISTLETOE.

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:

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

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:

Related Subject Search

* To search for other records with similar subjects, tick any subjects above then click "Run New Search"

Related Personal Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"

Related Corporate Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"

Related Placename Search

* To search for other records with similar placenames, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"