Irish Family History Society

Connecting People With Their Irish Roots

Nelson's navy 1793 – 1815

by Keith Gregson
Published by The Federation of Family history Societies
Britain’s naval power, known as “The wooden wall”, kept the country free from invasion by the French for twenty years from 1793. Each of these wooden ships was manned by hundreds of seamen. The Royal Navy was the biggest employer of the period. Think of the big set piece naval battles such as The Nile, St. Vincents and Trafalgar – all great victories for the wooden ships. Yet for most of those years the navies main duty was the blockade of the French coast.
Life in Admiral Nelson’s navy was rough and raw for the ordinary seamen and not a whole lot better for the officer class.
Thousands of Irishmen signed on during those rousing times and many had a watery grave.
At the time of Trafalgar the Royal Navy had a total manpower complement of 110,000 and at that same battle there were eighteen different nationalities on board HMS Victory. There is family history in there for sure. The author tells us that much of the research material can be found in books, CDs and Internet sites. There is a “Trafalgar Ancestors” database available at the National Archives at KEW, London.
The final chapter consists of a list of web-sites which cover more than just Trafalgar during the period mentioned in the title. Under “Further Sources” we are given a full list of reading material covering all aspects of naval life aboard the ships of the line including naval ancestors and their life under sail.
The booklet consists of 32 pages in A5 and retails at Stg.£3.95
Reviewed by Eddie Brennan, Hon. librarian IFHS

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