Prize Papers research portal launched
Court records revealing the details of 1,500 ships captured during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars are now searchable online for the first time.
Uploaded as part of our Prize Papers project, the digital copies of 55 case books relating to ships seized by the British between 1793 and 1815 will provide insight into the work of the High Court of Admiralty in London in deciding whether the captured vessel was neutral or belonged to the enemy.
The new open access portal will allow researchers to search by the name of a ship, ship’s master, geographic area or date, and will include 3.5 million digital pages once the 20-year project has been completed.
Since 2018, teams at The National Archives and the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, in Germany, have been working to catalogue the contents of 4,088 boxes, including 160,000 undelivered letters, logbooks, ships papers and bills, poems, drawings, fabrics and playing cards, confiscated from 35,000 ships during 14 wars between 1652 and 1817.
Many of these artefacts have not only managed to stand the test of time over the course of the past centuries, but have also managed to remain virtually untouched.
Dr Amanda Bevan, Head of Legal Records at The National Archives recently said:
“In the days when wooden ships could be taken by threat of force, without necessarily sinking, the capture of enemy or neutral ships and their cargoes as “prize” was a standard part of warfare, to disrupt enemy trade; and neutral ships were captured, if they were suspected of carrying enemy goods.
“During the French Revolutionary/Napoleonic Wars, and the War of 1812, the British alone captured more than 25,000 ships across the world. The High Court of Admiralty in London or the many British Vice-Admiralty courts in the Caribbean, the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and the Indian Ocean judged the legality of the captures.
“The case books uploaded today serve as an excellent point of entry into the historical period, as well as the global systematic capturing of merchant ships.”
Prof Dr Dagmar Freist, director of the Prize Papers project, recently said:
“Further papers will be added to the online portal later this year, starting with the War of Austrian Succession (1740–1748).”
The Prize Papers project is part of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities, working with the German Historical Institute London, and the VZG. As of 2018, the project has been part of the Academies Programme of the German Union of the Academies of Sciences and Humanities.
Latest News from
Records of French Prizes uploaded to Prize Papers portal09/06/2022 09:15:00
Court records, ship’s papers and mail-in-transit revealing the details of French ships captured during the War of the Austrian Succession are now available online for the first time.
The National Archives and Arts Council England embark on a new three-year collaboration17/05/2022 09:15:00
The National Archives and Arts Council England are pleased to announce that they have signed a collaboration agreement until 2024, building on a long history of mutual support.
The National Archives to publish court judgments19/04/2022 13:10:00
The National Archives has today taken on responsibility for the external publication of court judgments, creating the first publicly available government database of judgments.
First MOD service personnel records now available07/04/2022 11:15:00
The first tranche of Ministry of Defence (MOD) service personnel records recently (05 April 2022) made The National Archive’s catalogue and was made available for ordering.
Support for Ukraine25/03/2022 14:15:00
We have all seen the horrific events unfolding in Ukraine. Many of us are looking for different ways to help; as an institution, we are looking at practical ways to help our colleagues in Ukraine preserve their national archival collections that are in peril.
Latest archive accreditation awards25/03/2022 10:43:00
By attaining accreditation, archive services demonstrate that they meet the UK standard for collections management and access to collections, showing resilience and the ability to manage changing circumstances successfully.
Step back in time with our 1920s evening at the 43 Club17/03/2022 16:43:00
Get ready for a trip back to the glitz and glamour of London’s hottest 1920s underground spot, The 43 Club, courtesy of our late event on 20 May.
Allocating a manuscript accepted in lieu of tax04/02/2022 13:43:00
Treaty of Dover, a register of the rights, obligations and arrangements pertaining to Dover Castle and its Constables, in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum, c.1390-91.