Serving in Nelson's navy : a social history of three Amazon class frigates utilising database technology
The aim of this thesis is to apply computer technology, specifically data management systems, (commonly referred to as computer databases) to the study of the social history of the Royal Navy of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815). The muster, and to a lesser extent, pay and log books of three British Royal Navy frigates of the period HMS Trent, Amazon and Glenmore have been transcribed onto a series of Microsoft Access databases. The databases have then been interrogated in order to produce statistical information that has been applied to specific questions relating to the social history of the Royal Navy of the period. The emphasis of the thesis is the men of the lower deck although one chapter looks specifically at commissioned officer development. The major questions addressed revolve around the duties of the ships and men (Chapter 2)recruitment of men to the three ships (Chapter 3), the use of child labour (Chapter 4), the recruitment and development of volunteers new to the sea (Chapter 5)and the development and career prospects of midshipmen. The thesis provides a unique view of the men and boys who served on board Royal Navy vessels of the period that is not reliant on controversial memoirs but concentrates on exploiting primary sources recorded on a day-to-day basis. The findings demonstrate that the use of computer databases is a powerful weapon in the naval historian's armoury and have made a significant contribution towards answering some important social questions regarding the lower deck of Nelson's navy.