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[MANUSCRIPT LEDGER OF SHIPS TAKEN AS PRIZES BY THE BRITISH NAVY IN THE YEARS LEADING UP TO THE WAR OF 1812]
[Kingston, Jamaica, 1810. Tall folio. Original reverse calf, stamped in blind, raised bands. Hinges cracked, boards loosening but held by cords. Very clean internally. Very good. In a cloth clamshell case, leather label. One of the most contentious issues in the Atlantic maritime world in the early 19th century was that of the taking of ships as prizes of war. It was an especially bitter issue between the United States and Great Britain, and was one of the direct causes of the War of 1812. The present volume provides a wealth of information on British naval captures in the Caribbean. It is a record of the vessels detained by the British Navy's "White Fleet," under the command of Vice Admiral James Richard Dacres and based at the Jamaica Station. Kept by agents of the Kingston firms of William Griffiths & Company, and Griffiths and Brown, the volume gives meticulous records on the ships captured, their status, and the goods that were seized from them. Capturing ships as naval prizes was a lucrative business for the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. Vice Admiral Dacres, for example, greatly enriched himself during the four years (1805-1809) that he commanded the Jamaica Station. As the Admiral in command of the apprehending fleet he was entitled to one-eighth of the total value of a captured ship and its goods. The rest of the proceeds would be distributed among the captain or captains of the capturing ships, along with the officers and crews. William Griffiths, who has signed this ledger at least ten times, was the agent in charge of absorbing the captured goods and distributing the value to Dacres and his subordinates. The first thirteen pages of the volume contain a detailed "List of Vessels Pending under Appeal & Vessels whose Sales cannot be closed." Hundreds of ships are listed by name, and the name of their master and their number on the Admiralty list are also provided. Most of the ships appear to be American or Spanish in origin. The name of the capturing vessel or vessels is also given, as are the names of those ships' masters. The "date sentence" and "proceeds paid into court" are also meticulously recorded, with the value of the ships and their cargo often exceeding ?5000 or ?10,000. Lastly, a status report is given for each ship, showing whether the vessel or cargo had been condemned, and whether or not that judgement was being appealed (most of the cases listed were under appeal). Many of the ships listed are obviously of American origin (including the "George Washington" and the "Indiana"), making this a vitally important record of escalating tensions between the two nations. A final page in this section gives a "Statement of Curacoa [sic] captures distributable," listing the names of several captured ships, as well as recording the proceeds and expenses incurred in Curacao. One line item records "93 Negroes sold at Curacoa & hire of others" with an entry of more than £11,000. The other end of the ledger contains thirty-eight manuscript pages giving details of Admiral Dacres' accounts with William Griffiths & Company. It amounts to a close recording of the cargo seized from the prize ships, and is also a record of provisions sold to the British Navy at Jamaica Station from 1805 to 1810. All manner of goods captured and sold are listed, providing an extensive accounting of goods seized and sold in the Caribbean during these years. An important record of British prize-taking in the age of the Napoleonic Wars, and of the activities that would soon lead them into war with the United States.
      [Bookseller: William Reese Company - Americana ]
Last Found On: 2015-11-18           Check availability:      ABAA    

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