Staffordshire at Sea

A selection of the records that Drakeford produced through his work as a Captains' Clerk, Ships' Purser, and Prize and Pay Agent

Archive sources

Sample report and survey document
An example of orders to provide victuals to men on board HMS Lyon (1727) and a report of a survey carried out under orders from Captain John Roberts Commander of HMS Norfolk, to take a strict and careful survey of butter said to be defective on HMS Tiger (1732).
Receipts from HMS Tiger
Receipts for ship’s utensils, silver lace and canvas purchased by Drakeford as Purser of HMS Tiger, 1733/1734.
Pay List for crew on board HMS Lenox
July 1740-January 1742, created by Drakeford as ship’s Purser.
Letter from Edward Jasper to Drakeford
On behalf of a George Fox who has been impressed on the Cholmondley Tender now at Portsmouth, 11 January 1742
Capture of the French privateer L’Indomptable
Featuring a Deed of King George II declaring L’Indomptable to be prize, the sale catalogue for L’Indomptable, a letter of consent to Drakeford from the Purser of HMS Lizard and a list of one hundred and one officers and men on board HMS Lizard at the capture of the L’ Indomptable

Richard Drakeford, (fl. 1709-1757)

The Drakeford family, whose family history can be traced back to the reign of Edward I, lived in and owned Forebridge Hall (on the site of Green Hall), in the 17th and 18th centuries.  Richard was the son of Edward Drakeford, the youngest son of Richard Drakeford and Ann Babington.  Edward had left Stafford to become an ironmonger in London.  In 1709 Richard Drakeford was orphaned at the age of 12 and joined the navy.  Following a successful career in the Navy and as an agent in Gosport, Hampshire, he returned to Stafford, where he purchased Forebridge Hall from the main family line who had fallen on hard times.  He had become quite wealthy and was appointed the High Sheriff of Staffordshire in 1753.  Richard married but had no children, so on his death the property was bequeathed to a great nephew and passed to Edward Drakeford (1749-1814), the last of the line of this significant Stafford family.

From as early as 1709 Drakeford was employed as a Captain's clerk on board the Adventure. He went on to become Purser on board eight navy vessels (the Newcastle, Lyon, Tiger, Windsor, Lenox, Devonshire, Chichester and St. Amelia), between 1726 and 1746. Drakeford was able to obtain leave from his job as Purser on numerous occasions to work as a Prize and Pay Agent based in Gosport, Hampshire. In this capacity, he arranged the prize money from a number of captured vessels, including the Princessa, Del Carmino, St. Pierre, Angellica, L'Indomptable, Dauphine, St Catherine, St. John the Baptist, and Elvira. Between March 1744 and 1746, Drakeford worked in partnership with fellow Prize Agent, Edward Jasper.

The Records

The records that Drakeford produced through his work as a Captains' Clerk, Ships' Purser, and Prize and Pay Agent can be found in a collection of his naval papers held at Staffordshire Record Office (main collection reference: D1798/HM Drakeford). They provide a fascinating and detailed insight into life on board HM vessels and they demonstrate the administrative procedures behind the arrangement and payment of Prize Money. The records include: instructions, orders, and memorabilia; Clerk’s and Purser’s books and correspondence; papers as Prize and General Agent; accounts, largely concerning prize and naval matters; and correspondence relating to all aspects of his work and also private matters. There are also records of people and affairs connected with Drakeford’s naval activities, for example, correspondence of Julian Legge relating to his naval career; and papers arising from Drakeford’s executorship of the estates of Captain Samuel Faulkner and Rowland Frogmere. The records that have been chosen for this exhibition are examples of Drakeford’s work as Captain’s Clerk, Ships’ Purser and as Prize Agent.

Ships’ Purser

Records include: orders and letters sent by Drakeford as Captain’s clerk on board the Adventure, 1709-11; Drakeford’s letter and store book, emanating from his work as Purser on board HMS Lyon, Tiger and Windsor, 1720s-1730s;
vouchers, personal and official expenses as Purser of HMS Tiger, 1733-34; and pay lists and a letters and account book as Purser of HMS Lenox.

Prize Agent

Prize papers including: sale catalogues; disbursement and receipt records; ledgers; correspondence; commissions to act as prize agent; distribution lists; and crew lists, provide a detailed administrative record of Drakeford’s work as a Prize Agent. Documents relating to the capture of L’Indomptable by the Lizard have been used in this exhibition. However, there are similar prize papers relating to the following ships:

  • HMS Lenox: Prize – Princessa
  • HMS Eltham: Prize – Del Carmino
  • HMS Kinsale: Prize – St. Pierre, St. Catherine and St. John the Baptist
  • HMS Lizard: Prize – L’Indomptable
  • HMS Captain: Prize – Dauphin
  • HMS Chester, Kent, Hampton Court, Lyon, Eagle, Advice, Hector, Dolphin and Pluto: Prize – 37 Sail of St. Domingo ships
  • HMS Inverness and Portland: Prize – Angelica
  • HMS Arundel: Prize – Elvira

The images relating to Richard Drakeford are reproduced by kind permission of Hand Morgan & Owen Solicitors, Stafford.

Admiral George Anson (1697-1762) Sir John Leveson (1555-1615) George Legge, Baron Dartmouth (c1647-1691) Richard Drakeford (c1709-1757) John Jervis, Earl St. Vincent (1735-1823)