After more than twenty years, I am retiring.
Largest Collection of Old Documents on the Web
79 Documents taken from the archives of history to view or personalize.
This is the largest collection of old documents on the web. Going as far back as 1404.
8 of the most popular documents covering a wide variety of subjects.
License to arm a private warship.
In olden times, Kingdoms and governments did not have navies. They would license private ships (Privateers) To capture their enemies’ shipping and goods. These licenses were called Letters of Marque and have been issued by all the major seafaring nations since the thirteenth century.
Privateers sailed under the protection of Letters of Marque. They were privately owned warships commissioned by a belligerent nation to carry-on naval warfare for profit. The captured ships, booty and plunder would be divided between the issuing government, the vessel’s owner, and her crew. It was legal piracy. In the 18th century 365 Letters of Marque were issued from just Boston alone.
In the days of fighting sail, a letter of reprisal was a government license authorizing a person (known as a privateer) to attack and capture enemy vessels and bring them before admiralty courts for condemnation and sale. A Letter of Reprisal usually allowed the Captain to capture only one ship as compensation for an injury done to the Captain.
Admiralty Reports is an exciting collection of miscellaneous maritime documents covering a wide range of nautical and historical events from pirates’ trials, hangings, battles and the beheading of a King.
Reports on naval engagements, pirate trials, hangings, maroonings and a host of other maritime topics collected over many years from many different sources.
Put your name and picture on a poster!
Blackbeard’s Reward poster, Advertisement for Privateer crew, Slave Prince for sale, Beggar’s plea
Articles were an important agreement between the crew and the captain of any pirate vessel because they spelled out the conditions under which the crew would agree to sail with the pirate captain. A privateer’s ship did not have Articles because they were governed by naval regulations which they seldom followed. Privateers were little better than pirates.
All the crew members of a pirate ship signed articles at the beginning of the cruise in which they agreed that all prizes taken on the cruise would be divided among the owners, officers, and crews in the proportions set forth in the articles.
Wedding license from 1800, Pact with the Devil, Indentured Servant, Exorcism, Dueling Code, Vampire Hunter, etc.
Select quotes that capture the passion and danger of the sea.
It was common practice for Instructions to be issued along with Letters of Marque to clarify the intent of the Letters.
Few of them have survived.