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Secretaries of State: State Papers Naval

SP 42
Secretaries of State: State Papers Naval

Papers left in the State Paper Office by Secretaries of State acting in their naval capacity.

The series includes general correspondence and letters from the Board of Admiralty or its secretary to the secretaries, in many cases forwarding papers from admirals and other naval officers; drafts of secretarial out-letters, whether addressed to the Admiralty or admirals; resolutions of councils of war held during fleet operations; lists of royal naval ships, convoys, and foreign fleets; correspondence from the Sick and Wounded Office; complaints of Spanish depredations at sea; law reports on Admiralty matters, supplied chiefly by the King's Advocates (including a report on the Palatine refugees); orders in council of naval interest; copies of naval correspondence required by Parliament to pursue inquires; and Court of Admiralty decisions regarding prizes.

The series was previously known as State Papers Domestic Naval, and before that as HO Admiralty and was formerly part of SP 34


Please Note: Folio numbers do not necessarily equate with item numbers because some items have more than one folio number.

Related Material:
For Admiralty correspondence after 1782 see HO 28
Held by:
The National Archives, Kew
Legal status:
Public Record
Physical description:
144 bundles and volumes
Publication note:
The series is calendared in part in: Calendar of State Papers Domestic William and Mary eds W J Hardy and E Babeson 11 vols (London 1895-1937) Calendar of State Papers Domestic Anne ed R P Mahaffy 2 vols (London 1916-1924) Calendar of Home Office Papers of the Reign of George III eds J Redington and R A Roberts 4 vols (London 1878-1899) Please speak to staff at the Map and Large Document Room enquiry desk for the precise location.
Administrative / biographical background:

The Secretaries of State had issued royal orders to Admirals before 1689, but it was then that they started to instruct the Board of Admiralty by sign manual warrant or secretarial letter. The Secretary for the Southern Department was more prominent in naval affairs than his colleague simply because naval operations in this period were more often in the Mediterranean. While there was some professional resentment in William III's reign about the blunders allegedly resulting from Secretarial interference in naval affairs, the role played by the secretaries became unassailable subsequently, being maintained by their obvious advantages over the Board of Admiralty when speed and secrecy were essential.

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