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Written treasure: correspondence from captured ships, 1652-1815

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The National Archives

Bessant Dr

Kew

TW9 4DU

United Kingdom

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As pirates buried their captured gold and jewels, their legal cousins - privateers and navies – left a written treasure almost as well hidden. Thousands of letters sent across the seas were swept into their captors’ hauls, brought into court, and forgotten. If delivered, the letters would likely not have survived. Written by people of all ranks - wives and husbands, parents and children, partners in business - they speak of hope and death, news and gossip. These letters come to us from an expanding world of slavery and sugar, European colonisation and trade, peace and war: the precursor to our world.

Dr Amanda Bevan is Head of the Legal Records Team and is a specialist in the records of the early modern period. Since 2013, she has been working on a major international project to catalogue and digitise the undescribed Prize Papers - papers seized from ships captured in wartime between 1650 and 1815, and submitted to the High Court of Admiralty as exhibits to prove their enemy status.


This talk is part of the Summer Lecture Series exploring the theme 'State and Society: Cultures of Communication', which is generously sponsored by the Friends of The National Archives. This year, the summer lecture series intersects with The National Archives’ research priorities on openness, access and use, and people, place and rule.

Each of the talks draws upon The National Archives’ rich collections and provides an opportunity to see the documents behind the research.

Our café remains open to the public when there are evening events taking place, serving a range of speciality coffees and teas, cakes, pastries, snacks, sandwiches, beer and wine.

Programme

6.30pm: Talk

7.15pm: Q&A

7.30pm: Document display


Discover the other talks in the Summer Lecture Series

As this event is free, not everyone who registers attends. To ensure we have a full house, we allocate more tickets than there are seats. We do our best to get the numbers right, but do sometimes have to disappoint people. Admission is on a first come, first served basis, so please arrive in good time for the start of the event.

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Date and Time

Location

The National Archives

Bessant Dr

Kew

TW9 4DU

United Kingdom

View Map

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