Military Histories

Shipwrecked - August 2013 Issue

From CALEDONIA to RAVEN and Survey Duties  

 Richard was discharged from HMS CALEDONIA on the 24th October, 1831. He had decided to leave the Royal Navy at that point but, for whatever reason, he resumed his naval service on the 15th September, 1832, when he joined the cutter HMS RAVEN in Portsmouth. HMS RAVEN was quite a contrast to HMS CALEDONIA, Richard's previous ship.   The cutter had a complement of 30 whereas the CALEDONIA, a first-rate warship, had a complement of 340.
                   In this issue I will use the Admiralty records to describe Richard's time onboard HMS RAVEN. I shall provide personal details taken from the ship's muster and pay books (ADM 37) and (ADM 32) describe the voyage the ship undertook using the captain's log (ADM 51) and follow up a lead in the ship's pay book to discover the identity of the person Richard was sending money home to.

Richard made his first appearance on board HMS RAVEN on the 15th September 1832. He was given the ship's book number 38 (SB38) and was rated as an able-seaman. His entry confirmed his place of birth as Haslar, Hampshire, and that his previous ship had been CALEDONIA. His pay book details (ADM 32/404) recorded his expenditure as: 11 shillings on slops (naval clothing/stores); 6s - 4d on tobacco and an allotment home which commenced on the 1st October, 1832. Richard's monthly allowance was £2 - 6s.
          You can use the ship's muster book (and/or pay book) to determine the rank structure of the cutter.   RAVEN had one Lieutenant (the commanding officer) an assistant surgeon, two mates, the master's assistant, a clerk, quartermaster, gunner's mate, boatswains mate and 21 able seamen.
          The Captain's or Ship's log recorded the daily events; location, weather, daily routines and any incidents of note. By using these records you are able to 'plot' the ship's movements for an entire voyage.
          RAVEN departed Portsmouth on the 16th September, 1832 (the day after Richard Howard had joined) and was to spend the next twelve months hugging the coast of Portugal conducting survey findings. In that time the commanding officer gave able-seaman Hatherton 36 lashes for being drunk and insolent, ordered water rationing until supplies had been replenished and made entries whenever RAVEN came into contact with other British warships or (in the commanding officer's words) whenever strange vessels were detected.
          HMS RAVEN returned to Portsmouth on the 12th August 1833 - four weeks short of one year. The ship's company would be employed for the next four weeks carrying out repairs to the ship and returning naval stores items. On the 10th September the pay clerk was welcomed on board as it was his duty to pay the men the outstanding wages owed to them.  Once the men had been paid they were free to leave the ship and the ship then 'paid-off' (taken out of commission).   RAVEN would remain dormant until brought back into commission. When she was re-commissioned a new ship's book and pay book would commence. 
          The ship's pay book recorded that Richard's earnings for the voyage totalled £21 - 18s - 6d and after deductions he received £8 - 6s - 6d. Half of his pay had been allotted home and the rest he had spent on stores items (uniform items, soap etc.) and tobacco. To discover who was the recipient of Richard's allotment I searched the National Archives website using RAVEN and the date range 1832-1833 to identify Admiralty Allotment Books (ADM 27). I had six records that covered the required date range so this type of search can be long and sometimes fruitless. The description of each allotment book on the website provides a breakdown of the ships included in the book with allotment serial numbers and page numbers where you will locate those ship entries. The search involves ordering the allotment book(s) and simply looking at the page numbers . I was fortunate; I found Richard Howard's entry in the second allotment book. He was sending his money home to his mother Elizabeth. The search proved worthwhile as it confirmed beyond doubt that the Richard Howard I had traced in the parish registers was indeed the same Richard Howard, able seaman of HMS RAVEN. 
          Richard was back ashore in the September of 1833 but he would not be ashore for too long. He would join his next ship in November and set sail on a voyage that would keep him away from Portsmouth for over three years.     



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