Friday, January 22

A Book Review

Shipboard Life and Organization 1731-1815
Publications of the Navy Records Society Vol. 138
Ed. by Brian Lavery

A Book Review by Chris Bertani

This volume is a collection of primary source material about life on Royal Navy vessels.  Included are Admiralty Regulations, captain's standing orders, extracts from diaries, medical journals, systems for berthing and watch bills, including the quarter bill for H.M.S. Indefatigable in 1812 (if you just want a cross section of names of Royal Navy sailors, it's here), and extracts from courts martial.  The book is a treasure trove of details and minutiae, and I believe any reenactor or student of the era will find something useful.  

The Navy Records Society ( has been publishing primary source volumes since 1893, including many letter books from the Napoleonic Wars, which are fascinating reading for anyone who wants to get the feel of how officers and gentlemen wrote to one another.

These books can be hard to find, but I have had good luck with inter-library loans through my local public library.

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