Each record contains a transcript of the collected information. The details come from a number of sources so the amount of information can vary but in general you can find the following out about your ancestor:
The annotation FB alongside an entry date indicates that the man appears in previous victualing books for the ship. This is often the case on larger ships.
This collection of records gives a snapshot of the Royal Navy in April 1831 using ships’ muster books, naval dockyard musters, hospital registers, Royal Marine shore lists and Navy lists. The information was gathered together by Kevin Asplin and it is with his permission that the transcripts appear here.
The records detail 66,125 men and were extracted from over 10,000 documents covering 228 vessels, hospitals, bases or musters. Much of the information comes from ship’s musters which are generally in the ADM 35, 37 & 38 series, these provide details about when a man entered a ship, his age at that point, his rank in April 1831 and his place of birth. Commissioned officers and those travelling as passengers do not have their place of birth recorded.
The ship’s musters also record when a man was discharged, prior to April 1831, and often the reason for that discharge. Reasons for discharge include death, discharge to another ship or shore, ran from ship, paid off at end of commission or being sent to hospital/sick quarters. If the Captain did not know the fate of the man then a letter Q would be added to the muster. For example RQ would be Ran – but not confirmed.
Hospital musters (ADM 102) include much of the same information for the patients. Additional information is gathered from hospital pay lists, dockyard lists in ADM 113 and Royal Marine shore lists in WO 96. These are mainly limited to name and rank information. The original records also give the location of the ship in April 1831 as well as some additional notes.
Although not the busiest period of the century for the Royal Navy, the following events were in place at that time:
The coastal blockade of the Kent Coast to prevent trade with France that had been in place since 1818 was to come to an end in 1831. Based on the HM ships Hyperion and Talavera this blockade involved thousands of men who did duty in boats, watch towers and small outposts across the south east of England.
The suppression of the slave trade around Sierra Leone was costing the Royal Navy hundreds of men each year through disease and conflict with pirates and slavers. HM ships Conflict, Dryad, Eden, Favorite & Plumper were all involved in that activity at that time.
The packet trade ran to and from Falmouth harbour with small brigs and sloops running back and forth carrying mail and despatches.
HMS Lightning was sat over the wreck of the Thetis off Cape Frio, Brazil. The Thetis had gone down the previous December with the loss of 28 lives and 800,000 dollars in bullion. The salvage would take several years to complete.
Anti-piracy actions were being carried out in the West Indian station and Indian Ocean.
Political unrest in Spain and South America called for a heavy presence of HM ships in these areas.