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Rare four page Vellum Document, Privateers during the Napoleonic Wars to be Auctioned by Spink in London

Privateers during the Napoleonic Wars

‘Queenborough’: 1806 (12 June) Articles of Agreement between the Owners, Commander, Officers and Crew of this private ship of war. This four page vellum document is extremely rare, giving explicit details of the obligations of the owners and crew, together with a detailed breakdown of the distribution of the prize money. Three quarters going to the owners and a quarter to the officers and crew, with a schedule of the portion allotted to each member of the crew (either wage, portion or a combination).

The document confirms that a Letter of Marque had been obtained for a private ship of war and that the owners to pay to fit it out for a two month cruise from Plymouth. The owner being liable for the costs of all warlike stores, changes of clothing, sea bedding as well as advance money and wages. The crew agree to comply with orders from the owner or his agent. The detail is very specific, even to the point where the first man on board a capture vessel is awarded 5 guineas, the protection of a departing crew on a return prize vessel and how it affects their share of profit. Also discussions on mutiny and this effect on shares. The final page of this schedule is signed and sealed by every member of the crew showing their signature, position on ship, share/salary/wages in lieu of shares/shares in lieu of wages. A very rare and complete example of one of the documents. This lot also includes a complete transcript and research notes by Tony Pawlyn. Photo

The ‘Queenborough’ was a Royal Navy Hired Armed Cutter between the years 1800-06. A 174 ton, 12 gun cutter with fore and aft sails. Records show that she was employed on the Channel Station between 1800-01 under Lt. Berry and again between 1804-05 when she captured the Vrow Elizabeth. It was quite common for the navy to hire armed vessels, particularly smaller ones, in times of need. In 1801 there were 130 ships hired and in 1804 this number was 76.

According to this Agreement the crew consisted of 4 officers, 5 petty-officers, 29 able seamen, 3 ordinary seamen and 4 others. The captain is not included as he would have had a separate agreement.

The ‘Queenborough, one of Blewett’s larger vessels, was very successful under John Davey’s command and, along with others, took at least 16 ships into Plymouth for appraisal and, hopefully, condemnation.

Note: Hannibal Blewett owned several private ships of war, the Betsy and Queenborough, others noted being Happy Return, Hero, John Bull and Caesar. His ships were put up for sale between 1807-09

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Estimate £4,500 to £5,500