Board of Admiralty, Hydrographic Department, 1795-1856
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These records form part of the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) Historic Archive formerly held at Taunton (as an authorised place of deposit under section 4(3) of the Public Records Act, 1958) and transferred to The National Archives commencing 2005.
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Administrative / biographical background:
The primary function of the Hydrographic Department, also known as the Hydrographic Office, has always been safety at sea - in particular during military action. However, the survey work it sponsored had additional aims of supporting exploration, colonisation, the monitoring of the slave trade after abolition, and scientific research.
Surveyors and their support staff on board ship, in addition to their survey skills, were also trained to provide navigational information through artwork, diagrams and textual records. Some naval officers recorded extra information which was not required for chart making or Sailing Direction updates, but for reporting purposes on the events and encounters of the voyage.
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