Reply To: Vice-Admiral Sir William Mitchell, KCB (1745/6 to 1816)

Home Forums Nautical Research: 1500 – 1830 Vice-Admiral Sir William Mitchell, KCB (1745/6 to 1816) Reply To: Vice-Admiral Sir William Mitchell, KCB (1745/6 to 1816)

Chris Donnithorne


    I have done a fair amount of work, using just the Pay Books, to assess the ability to track sailors from one ship to another, mainly
    for the period covered by the War of Jenkin’s Ear. I have found it to be perfectly possible in many cases albeit time-consuming.
    Having now entered several hundred such people, it is obviously perfectly possible with a number of important caveats. There is
    bound to be some duplication particularly with breaks in service. Equally, much additional information has been gleaned by
    selected ‘blanket input’ of the sources, which allows correlation between entries [in different Pay Books] which would otherwise
    have been impossible to link due to widely differing spelling of the name, or mistakes in the source documents themselves.

    For those who subsequently gained a Commission, as in this case, I have found the Passing Certificates invaluable with the
    proviso that accuracy here cannot be assumed. I have come across instances where ships have been left out, or where even the
    wrong ship has been recorded.

    Given the above, I think it should be possible to find more of the early service of William Mitchell. If he was rated AB in 1766, we can
    be certain that this was one rate which was very rarely used as a suitable ‘slot’ to put someone in. In practice, he had to be
    qualified to carry out the duties of an AB which would have required him to have served at sea before although not necessarily in
    the RN. Helpfully, from the early 1760s, year and place of birth start to appear routinely in the Muster Lists, giving additional
    clues to assist realistic correlation between entries.