Reply To: Fate of Crew Taken as Prizes

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Nicholas Blake

    As well as the prize money paid for the value of the ship and contents, the Admiralty paid a bounty of so much per head for each person alive at the beginning of the action (thus popularly known as head money). To get this, someone in the British ship had to find the most senior survivor and get a list of personnel. Clearly the Admiralty intended this to be paid for combatant men and boys, but the rules didn’t make this explicit, so after some actions everyone was recorded, including non-combatants such as women and children, and in a few cases they gave a narrative, which can be read in the head money papers in the National Archives at Kew. This is particularly true of Camperdown (the head money papers for the Nile are not there, if any one knows where they are please shout). Some of those can be found in Sam Willis’s “In the Hour of Victory”.