Letter from the Treasurer of the Marine Society to the Admiralty, 22 August 1791 (ADM 1/5119/16)
The Society was founded in 1756. It aimed to support poor children from the age of 13 by giving them the skills needed to work on board the King’s ships. This letter requested that the boys extended their time on HM ships to keep them out of trouble if discharged immediately after war service.
22nd August 1791
I am requested by the Committee of the Marine Society to represent to you, for the information of the Right Honourable, the Lords Commission of the Admiralty that having at the close of the War in 1763 & 1783, as well as that of the Armament in 1790 experienced the utility of their Lordships orders for the boys sent by the Society being received on board such of his Majesty’s Ships, as they have been pleased to appoint, on their being paid off from their respective ships.
I am therefore to beg you will represent to their Lordships, that the Society requests they will be pleased to give orders, that such boys sent by them, to His Majesty’s ships who may be discharged, be received on board a ship in Ordinary, [as ordinary seamen, apprentices for able seamen] at Portsmouth and Chatham, there to continue for a time not exceeding three months, for any one boy, for victuals [provisions] only, and that such may be discharged at Plymouth, be passed round the Tenders, to the ships at Portsmouth or Chatham.
For the better care of these boys, it is requested their Lordships will also please to order that the wages due to each boy be paid and that the clothing and bedding be also delivered on his discharge.
I am at the same time to mention that the Society’s Agents at Portsmouth and Chatham will be directed to go on board such ships in order to make out Lists, which being transmitted to the Society, they will have directions to send up such boys who do not find Masters, as the Society can get Masters for in Town.
I am further to observe that many of these boys are of unsettled dispositions and if they are permitted to go on shore, the good intentions of the Society will be frustrated, for they have been protected at a great expense they are anxious to preserve them, either for sea or land service, that they may become useful subjects.
I am Sir,
your most humble & obedient servant…