HCA 30/636 Project Home Page

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This page is the home page for volunteers working on HCA 30/636/ materials

Project description

HCA 30/636 in all its glory, just waiting for some collaborative work by volunteers

Marine Lives has kicked off a new collaborative online research project to partially transcribe and understand three ship account books from the 1620s and 1630s. Kickoff took place on Thursday, November 18th 2021, and the project will run till end June 2022. The project is about co-creation of a public resource, which will be published on the Marine Lives wiki and will be made available to all - public and academic historians alike (and those just intrigued by our past). The account books are part of a heterogenous collection of documents held within the archives of the English High Court of Admiralty, which reside at the National Archives in Kew. Our documents are held under the class mark HCA 30/636.

HCA 30/636 document category

HCA 30/636 is a document category which has been created to cover certain papers generated by the Prize Court jurisdiction of the English High Court of Admiralty papers. It contains nine sub-divisions. We have imaged all the documents within HCA 30/636 and will be making these available to volunteer collaborators online. Documents include three beautifully leather bound account books of various sizes, further paper bound account books, a letter copy book of letters written from on board ship, and various miscellaneous accounting documents relating to multiple voyages. In all we have over one thousand images.

We are compiling a running list of C17th ship account books - all languages. Please take a look and contact us if you have comments or additions to this list.

Putting a face to our volunteers

Putting a face to our HCA 30/636 ship account books volunteers

We have created a new wiki page for volunteers to tell us a little about their research interests, and what they would like to get out of the Marine Lives Ship Account Book project. You can access this page by Volunteer research interests and goals clicking the link here

Project management and communication

This is going to be a very relaxed project running through to the middle of 2022 in which people are welcome to dip in and out, and to do as little or as much as they have time and interest for.

Colin Greenstreet, director of Marine Lives, will be managing the project and running a number of small facilitated teams. Each team will consist of four or five volunteers, together with Colin as team facilitator. We are forming the teams at the moment, and are planning to have a mix of volunteers from North America and Europe on each team, together with a mix of paleographical strengths, and other expertise. Team formation will be completed by Monday, November 29th 2021.

Charlie Wilson is putting together a small group to work on communication, so that we make goods use of the knowledge and materials we create with different audiences. Click here for a page on project communication

Next steps through to end January 2022

Next steps

The slide on the left summarises the project plan for the next two months. In those two months we will be getting to grip with the diverse manuscript material using high resolution images made available to project volunteers in Dropbox. Our priority for the first three or four weeks through to mid-December is to get everyone comfortable with the different hands used by the authors of this manuscript material. Picking up on discussion during our launch meeting, we will be holding six one hour on-line sessions for volunteers, combining some paleography tuition with some paleographic problem solving, using manuscript material from HCA 30/636.


Existing project resources

Marine Lives brush up your palaeography and teach yourself wiki
C17th Textiles, garments and Dyestuffs glossary
Commodities glossary
Weights and Measures glossary

Proposed project resources

Ship Account Book glossary
Compendium of Ship Account Book named persons
Compendium of Ship Account Book geographical terms
Partial transcriptions and abstracts of the Account Books and related papers
Thematic synthesis around geography, materials, commerce and social world as evidenced in the HCA 30/636 papers

Thematic pages

1. Dutch connections with 1H C17th Barbados
2. Dutch connections with 1H C17th Saint Christophers
3. Dutch connections with 1H C17th Virginia

4. Barbados C17th supply chain
5. Saint Christophers in 1H C17th

6. Tobacco market in 1H C17th London, Middleburg and Rotterdam

7. Archival resources in the Netherlands relevant to C17th Anglo/Dutch commerce

8. Discussion: Anglo/Dutch collaboration and conflict in 1H C17th Caribbean and Atlantic coast plantations

9. Company of the Abraham

Sample images and context by subcategory

HCA 30/636/ Letter copy book from on board the ship the Abraham

HCA 30/636/1
HCA 30/636/4
HCA 30/636/7
HCA 30/636/8
HCA 30/636/9

Work product by the HCA 30/636 team


HCA 30/636/1 transcriptions
HCA 30/636/2 transcriptions
HCA 30/636/3 transcriptions
HCA 30/636/4 transcriptions
HCA 30/636/5 transcriptions
HCA 30/636/6 transcriptions

Factors letters written from the Abraham

Transcription aids

Resources to help with transcription
Commodities in the Abraham
Weights and measures in the Abraham
Phrases used in the Abraham


Company of the Abraham
Andrew Hardie, master of the Abraham
Andrew Hardie's will
Mathew Craddock, freighter of the Abraham
Profile of Grace Hardwin, part owner of the Abraham
Planters on Barbados

Thomas Pargiter's trading contacts in the 1620s

Research wish list

Research wish list for volunteers to work on

Commercial record keeping

Ship account books represent just one type of commercial record created by and used by mariners.

Volunteers may find it useful to review this Overview of Marine Oriented Commercial Records

1 Overview
2 Acquittance
3 Bill of lading
4 Boatswain’s book of accounts
5 Book of receipts
6 Charter party
7 Chief mate’s book
8 Cocket
9 Custom house book
10 Custom house waiter’s book
11 Gunner’s inventory
12 Letters of advice
13 Letters of correspondence
14 Lighter’s book of accounts
15 Master’s book of accounts
16 Marks on goods
17 Miscellaneous papers and writings
18 Notes or receipts (supply of goods to ships)]
19 Notes (wages related)
20 Private instructions from freighters or owners
21 Protest
22 Steward’s book
23 Waiter’s book
24 Warehouse records
25 Wharfinger’s book of accounts