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Great Britain. Admiralty
Seaman's protection certificate for Stephen Best, 1809 February 21
Additional Title(s):
By the Commissioners for Executing the Office of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom of Great-Britain and Ireland.
Physical Description:
1 sheet ([1] p.) ; 30 x 25 cm.
Rare Books and Manuscripts
VB57.G7 S43 1809+ Oversize
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
Archives & Manuscripts
Little is recorded about Stephen Best or Zephaniah Shipley. The latter is noted as the purchaser of Whitley Lodge (Northumberland) on March 31, 1804. See: Hodgson, J. A history of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne : E. Walker, 1820-1858).
The certificate is printed on lightweight writing paper made by John Abbot Dusautoy and James Rump, papermakers at Lyng, Norfolk. Watermarked 1805.
Printed form, completed in pen and black ink, granting Stephen Best freedom from impressment into His Majesty's Service for the three years of his indenture as apprentice to Zephaniah Shipley of Whitley. The document notes: "we do hereby require and direct all Commanders of His Majesty's Ships, Press-Masters, and others whom it doth or may concern, not to impress him... during the said space of Three years..." The form includes, in the left margin, a record of Best's physical appearance: "Age: [18 years]. Height: [5 ft. 3in]. Complexion: [fair]. Color of eyes: [blank]. Color of hair: [brown]. Other marks: [blank]." The document is signed at bottom by three Lord Commissioners of the Admiralty: William Johnstone Hope, James Buller, and Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (the future Prime Minister).
Protection certificates were of several types, ranging from those issued by Trinity House (who controlled pilots) to ones like this issued by the Admiralty. They had to be carried at all times and produced upon demand. Even these protections were likely to be ignored at a time of major crisis, known as a hot press, when the Admiralty gave the order to "press from all Protections."
Subject Terms:
Best, Stephen.
Great Britain. Admiralty.
Merchant marine -- Great Britain -- Manning of vessels.
Shipley, Zephaniah.
Ships -- Great Britain -- Manning.
Blank forms.
Buller, James, 1772-1830.
Hope, William Johnstone, 1766-1831.
Palmerston, Henry John Temple, Viscount, 1784-1865.

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