Old Handwritten Document

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    Dave J

      I am new to this forum, and I am hoping someone here might be able to give me some help regarding a document that I have come across.
      I am a member of the Spalding Gentlemen’s Society, we are an antiquarian society founded in 1710, and are in fact the oldest society still in existence in the UK, and the second oldest museum in the country.
      Amongst the many items in the collection, we have unearthed a handwritten document, that I am trying to do some further research on, on behalf of the society.
      Due to the Covid-19 virus, I am unable to gain access to the document, but I do have a couple pf photographs of the document, which I will upload as well, please excuse the poor quality of the images.
      As you will see, it is an undated letter, that appears to be written in a neat hand, possibly in the 18th century or early 19th. It names two ships, and their commanders, one of the ships, the Margery Snow has caught fire, and it appears the surviving crew and passengers were rescued by a ship called the Ann Galley.
      I understand that a Snow and a Galley are types of ship, and not necessarily part of the ships name, is that correct.
      Can anyone perhaps suggest where I might go to find anything out about these ships or their commanders, I know it is a long shot, without at least a date, and these ships names are probably quite common.
      Does the name Commander mean they were Naval vessels? Or were they perhaps merchant ships?
      I find this a fascinating letter, and I do wonder what happened to Richard Gough.
      Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

      Dave J


        Thanks for posting my message. I noticed that the images exceed the file size allowed, so here they are reduced in size, I hope they are still legible.



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        Sara Cutler


          Yes, the words ‘snow’ and ‘galley’ are descriptions of merchant vessels,and being merchant vessels the word ‘commander’ simply signifies the man in charge- the master (‘captain’) of the vessel.

          My sister and I have put our heads together and going by the eloquence and competence in penmanship this ‘Humble Pettition’ looks, to us, very much the work of an educated man. A possible candidate being Richard Gough, 1735 – 1809, antiquarian and author of “Anecdotes of British Topography” published in 1768, who was, according to the description by Cambridge University Press edition of his work-
          “The leading antiquary of his day, Richard Gough (1735–1809) promoted the history of the British Isles, particularly the Anglo-Saxon period, rather than pursuing the classical interests of contemporaries who had made the Grand Tour. Gough travelled extensively over the years, sketching and taking detailed notes on what he observed. He believed that the Society of Antiquaries, of which he was director from 1771 to 1797, should preserve the nation’s heritage without catering to fashion or the interests of dilettantes. He published this major work anonymously in 1768, and it found a receptive readership. The book is in effect a gazetteer of published and unpublished materials for the local history and topography of the whole of Great Britain and Ireland, discussing public records, printed books, manuscripts, maps, and other sources relating to the antiquities of each county”.

          Am I also correct in believing that the letter would have originally been an attachment to another document, as it contains no forwarding address for any potential offers of help, as well as no dates – and no indication – as to when the ‘Margery’ was bound from London to Jamaica and hence, when the accident occurred?

          Sadly useful archives such as Lloyd’s Register Foundation is shut for refurbishment and both the Caird Library at Greenwich and the National Archives are both shut due to the current Pandemic.

          Hope this has been of some use!

          All the Best

          Sara…also from Lincolnshire!

          Nicholas Blake

            A good resource for this sort of request when libraries are closed is the Marine History Information Exchange Group <MARHST-L@LISTS.QUEENSU.CA> YOu can address your request by email, but no attachments are allowed.

            Note that the penmanship is not in itself a clue to the petitioner: people employed clerks to write important documents like this; although the mistakes such as humble for humbly suggest that perhaps he did write it himself.

            Jon D

              There is a John Dennis listed as a privateer captain at ThreeDecks.org


              I would assume in peacetime he was a merchant ship commander?

              Of course, might not be him, but might be a lead?

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