Monday, October 30, 2006

Shipwright's Boys' Tools

Ah, Monday mornings; don'tcha just love 'em? Anyway, I hope I haven't over-sold this one...

Courtesy of the National Archives in Kew (reference ADM 106/241) via the generosity of Nicholas Blake, this is - well it's all explained in the letter really. It's the agreement on what and how many extra tools were to be issued for the benefit of the shipwrights' and caulkers' apprentices. I've done my best to transcribe it from the pics of the original accurately, but there may be a few slip-ups. First, the letter. And yes, it really does appear to say "conformably" and you thought management speak was a recent phenomenon...

Admiralty Office 1st December 1812


Whereas by your letter of the 28th ultimo you have returned to us the abstract which we had transmitted to you containing our decision as to the number of tools to be allowed for the use of the additional numbers of boys prepared to be instructed on board His Majesty's Ships in the Shipwrights and Caulkers trades; and conformably to our directions you have sent us an account of the value of the said tools we do hereby desire and direct you to cause the additional tools specified in the enclosed Account to be allowed to the different Rates of His Majesty's Ships for the additional Boys proposed to be instructed in the Shipwrights and Caulkers trades. We further signify that the Carpenters of His Majesty's Ships are to be charged with the said tools, as with other stores and their expenditure is to be most carefully regulated observing that they are not to be made use of for any other purposes than those for which they are intended, we are,

Your affectionate friends

H Yorke
H Dundas
J Osborn

I do love the last bit; yes, we're letting you have these things, but we're watching you... "Affectionate friends" is a bit of a surprise though. Anyway, the enclosed account as mentioned is as follows. The numbers afterwards are the allotted quantity for certain ships based on their rates. Thus the first and second rates (the largest) are first, then third & fourth, fifth & sixth rates and finally "small vessels". So Axe is 6 for the 1st & 2nd rates, 4 for the 3rd & 4th, and one each for the 5th, 6th and unrated vessels. "[?"] means I've made a best guess on the word based on shape and deduction but don't take it as gospel. Full descriptions are given for each tool simply because the blog can't cope with the formatting needed to present it as written.

Deptford Yard
25th Nov 1812
An account showing the usual[?] quantities of tools to be furnished for the use of the Boys who are prepared to be instructed on board H.M. Ships in the Shipwrights and Caulkers Trades.

Shipwrights Tools

Adzes, common
Adzes, compass
Saws, hand
Saws, compass
Mauls, pin [?]
Mauls, double headed
Hammers, claw
Hammers, sheathing
Hammers, clench
Chizles of 2 inches
Chizles of 1 1/2 inches
Chizles of 1 inch
Chizles of 3/4 inch
Chizles, Mortice 5/8 inch
Chizles, Mortice 1/2 inch
Chizles, Mortice 3/8 inch
Chizles, Mortice 1/4 inch
Gouges 2 1/2 inches
Gouges 2 inches
Gouges 1 1/2 inches
Gouges 1 inch
Slices 4 inches
Augers 1 1/2 inches
Augers 1 3/8 inches
Augers 1 1/4 inches
Augers 1 1/8 inches
Augers 1 inch
Augers 7/8 inch 1.1.1 .1
Augers 3/4 inch
Augers 5/8 inch
Gimblets 1/2 inch
Gimblets 3/8 inch
Gimblets small sorts
Planes, Jack
Planes, Smoothing
Drawing Knives
Squares, Iron
Lines [?]
Stones, Turkey
Stones, Rag [?]
Spoke Shaves
Saw Set
Punches, nail
Punches, Socket for Boat [hook?]
Punches, brad
Chest for Tools

Caulkers Tools

Iron caulkings
Reaming [?] Hooks

I feel a distinct likelihood of finding myself taking Christopher Gabriel and the Tool Trade in 18th Century London off the shelf now. There's a comprehensive inventory taken in 1800 with values - reckon they wouldn't have changed that much and it might be interesting to see how much all that would have cost. But no, I won't be blogging that - this is bloomin' hard work!


  1. Thanks for that, Alf, very interesting and worth waiting for. When I started work people would still use terms like "...your letter of the 28th ultimo". Most readers didn't have a clue what they were talking about....!!

    Paul Chapman

  2. And I still don't have a clue on the ultimo thing--but I'm too lazy to look I guess!

    Very good, Alf. I can just hear the squabbles now. "Gee, those guys on the 1st through 4th rates get 1/2" mortise chisels, why cannot we have 'em, sir?"

    Neat letter. Take care, Mike

  3. "ultimo" - of last month :)


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