Archive for the ‘Navy Board’ Tag

Google Book Search & George Boddy

My ancestor George Boddy (c1761-1834) was a shipwright and Timber Master in the Royal Navy Dockyards for 57 years. I have traced his long career using various resources, but one of the most helpful has been Google Book Search.

When I heard about this new search function last year, I tried the names of various ancestors – I thought that maybe one would appear in a book published in 1850, or some such.

Amazingly, George Boddy scored hits in books published in 1983 and 1999 on naval dockyard history. As the books are still in copyright, there were only two line snippets in the results, but I was able to order both from my local library for the bargain inter-library loan price of £1.75 each 🙂

So I discovered the work of a naval dockyards historian called Roger Morriss, including the precise references to George Boddy in Admiralty and Navy Board papers at The National Archives, Kew and the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. Who knows if I would have ever identified these papers for myself – but Roger Morriss’s work found via Google Book Search gave me a very welcome short cut.

This July I visited The National Archives, Kew, and read, photographed and transcribed the letters from & about my ancestor – a real thrill for me and my mum who was visiting the Kew archives for the first time.

I now know, in George’s own words, about his career moves from dockyard to dockyard, his invention of a tool to remove broken pintles (don’t ask, but he was hoping for money from the Admiralty!), and about struggling to provide for his eight children.

Note 1: The National Archive references are:

ADM1/4379  a box of loose letters; specifically letters numbered Pro B300, Pro B301 & Pro B302;

ADM1/4379 letter Pro B300 Page 3 letter from George Boddy to Sir Evan Nepean July 1805 This image is Crown copyright.

ADM106/2227 a book of copy letters from the Navy Board to the Admiralty; page 385.

Note 2: the two naval dockyards history books are:

The Royal Dockyards During the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, by Roger Morriss. Pub. 1983 by Leicester University Press. ISBN: 0718512154

History of Work and Labour Relations in the Royal Dockyards, edited by Kenneth Lunn & Ann Day. Pub. 1999 by Routledge (UK). ISBN: 0720123496

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