The collection of commanders' journals of voyages was roughly arranged in the late nineteenth century into pre- and post-1700 documents, the pre-1700 arranged chronologically and the post-1700 in a crude alphabetical order. The series includes ledgers and receipt books from many voyages, as well as journals. The distinction between the two series, L/MAR/A and L/MAR/B, into which the collection of ships' journals was divided, is a false one, as is the supposed distinction between 'journals' and 'logs'. All are journals, and from the late seventeenth century journals normally include copies of the tabular form of the common deck log maintained by officers of the watch during days at sea. The arrangement of journals from L/MAR/A and from L/MAR/B/1-798 is alphabetical by ship name, following the order in Anthony J. Farrington, Catalogue of East India Company Ships' Journals and Logs 1600-1834 (London, 1999). Journals and journal extracts from the period after the close of the Company's commercial operations in 1834, are generally those of trial and test voyages of experimental steam vessels (L/MAR/B/799-819): they were added here as journals in the late nineteenth-century sorting, but properly belong with the steam navigation materials in the Marine Miscellaneous Records (L/MAR/C). L/MAR/B/799-819 are listed here in numerical order after the alphabetical sequence of pre-1834 journals.
Administrative / biographical background:
The commander of each vessel chartered by the East India Company returning or arriving from the East Indies was required to deliver a fair copy of his journal of the voyage to East India House. These were preserved by the Company as evidence of the proper performance by the vessel of the terms of the charter. As a series of records of voyages, the journals were available for study by any East India Company commander and the observations and track information they contain were extensively used by successive hydrographers in the improvement of charts published by the Company.
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