Tell us what you think!

The new MarineLives wiki has gone live with over 13,000 pages of mid-C17th content. Do please take a look at the resources on offer by clicking here. On our front page we are showcasing the work of thirty of our volunteers  – a full text semi-diplomatic transcription of witness statements in 1656 and 1657 (HCA 13/71) made to the English Admiralty Court.


We are proud of our volunteers’ work, but know we can improve with your help. We are therefore inviting all the readers of our blog to join an feedback session we have opened, so that you can have a direct impact on our future work.

Questions you might like to consider include:

  1. How accurate are our transcriptions?
  2. How can we improve our editorial process?
  3. How can we improve our transcription and editing of Latin phrases
  4. How can we better involve students and public historians in the transcription and annotation of Admiralty Court manuscripts.




Please adopt a witness

The MarineLives Summer Programme is underway. With the first week of transcription coming to a close, we  have fifty transcriptions under our belt, together with metadata for over three hundred manuscript pages.

Take a look at the following list of English Admiralty Court witnesses. They are described by name, occupation, residence, and in most cases their age, and are from folios 400r to 531r in the book of Court depositions covering the years 1659-1661 (HCA 13/73).


If you click on the links you will go to our HCA 13/73 wiki, where you will find an image of the original manuscript page on which the witness appears.

In most cases you will find a space, waiting for our team to transcribe the image. For witnesses marked in blue you will see both an image and a transcription.

Then contact us, and tell us if there is a particular witness about whom you would like to learn more, and if you know something already about that witness, please share it.



[WWW]Robert fframpton of Limehouse Shipwright late Carpenter of the ”Brazil ffrigot” (Thomas Heath Master) aged 35 yeares
[WWW]Phillip Manning of London Merchant aged 35 yeeres
[WWW]Daniel Boone of London merchant aged 23 yeeres
[WWW]Thomas Davies servant and Aprentice to Edward Thompson of Shadwell Dealemerchant aged 19 yeeres
[WWW]John Shawe of Tower wharfe Sailemaker aged 20 yeeres
[WWW]George Settle of Shadwell Cooper aged 25 yeeres
[WWW]Thomas Shute of Shadwell Brewer aged 20 yeeres
[WWW]Thomas Etheridge of Limehouse Ropemaker aged 38 yeeres
[WWW]Nicholas Pyburne Living in Schoolehouse Lane in Ratcliffe Ropemaker aged 22 yeeres
[WWW]Robert Hooker of Ratcliffe Ropemaker aged 38 yeeres
[WWW]Richard Hartshorne of Tower Wharfe sailemaker, aged Eighteene yeeres
[WWW]Thomas Severne of Lymehouse Mariner Masters Mate of the ship the ”John and Catherine” whereof John Miller was Master Aged 60 yeeres



[WWW]Robert Scotting of Wapping Mariner aged 32 yeers
[WWW]Captaine William Jopp of Redriffe Mariner aged 45 yeeres
[WWW]Edmund Yorke of Redriffe aged 40 yeeres
[WWW]John Gibbs of Bermonsey in the County of Surry Marchant aged 50 yeeres
[WWW]William Bugbey of Lymehouse Mariner aged 49 yeeres
[WWW]Thomas Rastel of London Merchant aged 30 yeeres
[WWW]Thomas ffeild of harwich in Essex Shipwright aged 53 yeeres
[WWW]John Godfrey of Dover Court neere (XXX) Mariner aged 32 yeeres
[WWW]Thomas Cole of Acton neere Ispwich Mariner, Gunner of the ship the ”Mary Rose”
[WWW]John Turner of Ipswich shipwright Carpenter of the ship the ”Mary Rose”, aged 41 yeeres


[WWW]John Brand of Acton aged 44 yeeres
[WWW]Robert Marten of Acton neere Ipswich Mariner aged 51 yeeres
[WWW]William Howe of the parish of ffanchurch London mariner aged twenty fower yeeres
[WWW]George Whales of the parish of Saint Mary Magdalen Bermondsey Shipwright aged thirty yeeres
[WWW]Andrew Stone of the parish of Saint Olave in Southwarke mariner but borne at Stockholme in Sweden Carpenters mate of the ”Redd Rose” aged thirty fower yeares

CAPTURE_DETAIL_Marke_Oliver_Langdon_HCA1371_f455r_030113 ff.430r-439v

[WWW]John Johnson of the parish of Allhallowes Barking London Mariner aged twenty eight yeares
[WWW]John Triggs of the parish of Saint Mary Magdalen Bermondsey aged forty five yeares
[WWW]Phillip White of the parish of Saint Olave in Southwarke Mariner aged thirty three yeares
[WWW]Francis Hampton of Ratcliff. Shipwright aged about forty yeeres
[WWW]Richard Pigg of Cheeke (?Lane) near West Smithfeild (?Cooper) aged 29 yeeres
[WWW]Thomas Hulman Lieutenant of the ”ffairfax frigot”’ (Captaine Robert Story commander) aged 43 yeeres


[WWW]Captaine Robert Storey Commander of the ”ffairfax frigat” in the immediate service of this Commonwealth
[WWW]Captaine Willoughby Hanham commander of the ”kentish frigot” in the immediate service of this Commonwealth



[WWW]Captaine John Stokes Admirall of the Squadron of shipps of this Commonwealth in the Mediterranean sea, aged 49 yeeres
[WWW]John van lynen master of the said shipp ”Saint XXXX” aged thirtie eight yeares
[WWW]John Moller of Amsterdam Merchant aged 28 yeares
[WWW]Ide Symonson Burch of Amsterdam Mariner master of the shipp the Marcus Aurelius of Amsterdam, aged 48 yeeres
[WWW]Jurian Houltho(?use) of Amsterdam Merchant, aged (?40) yeeres
[WWW]Abraham van(?ventur) of Amsterdam Merchant, aged 28 yeeres


[WWW]Rocus van der maes of (?Sizicksea) by birth but living in the hague in holland Merchant aged 37 yeeres
[WWW]John Wilkinson of Ipswich in the County of Essex Mariner, aged 44 yeeres
[WWW]William Hitchcock of Wapping in the County of Middlesex aged 60 yeares
[WWW]Henry Hare of Shadwell waterman aged 41 yeeres
[WWW]Ide Symonson Burch of Amsterdam mariner Master of the said shipp aged 48 yeeres
[WWW]Abraham van Dentur of Amsterdam Marchant, aged 28 yeeres
[WWW]Rocus Maes of Ziricksea but dwelling in the hague in holland Merchant, aged 37 yeeres


[WWW]Francis Holt of Portsmouth gentleman aged 43 yeares
[WWW]John Thistlethwaite of Portsmouth gentleman aged 37 yeeres
[WWW]Thomas Garret of Redriffe Shipwright late Carpenter of the Ship ”Anne”, (John Adkins late Master) aged 20 yeeres
[WWW]John Mente of Saint Catherines neere the Tower of London Chirurgion aged 23 yeeres
[WWW]Gerbrand Sas Doctor of Lawes
[WWW]Francisco de Moralis of Saint Lucars de Baramuda in Andalusia Captaine of the shipp the ”Pea henn” belonging to Saint Lucars aforesaud, aged 30 yeeres


[WWW]Andries Verhoogh in Zeeland Mariner, aged 37 yeeres
[WWW]Diego de Guevara of Sivile in Andalusia Master or Sopracargo of the said shipp the ”Peahen”, aged 34 yeeres
[WWW]Lewis Francis of Calice in ffrance Merchant, aged 49 yeeres
[WWW]Pedro Michel of Marseilla in ffrance Mariner, aged 32 yeares
[WWW]James Ru(?p)eleau ofM(?orenar) in (XXXX) in the Realme of ffrance Mariner, aged 41 yeeres
[WWW]John Erable of Mornar neere Rochell in the Realme of ffrance Mariner, aged 35 yeeres
[WWW]John Burnelau of Mornau in the Realme of ffrance Sailor, aged 28 yeeres
[WWW]John (?S)ooker of the Parish of Saint (?Buttolphs) Bishopsgate London Mariner Master of the ship ”Richard and Martyn”, aged 52 yeeres
[WWW]Phillip Widdoson of the parish of Saint Olaves in Southwarke yeoman aged 37 yeeres
[WWW]John (?Porolim) of Shadwell in the parish of Stepney in the County of Middlesex Mariner aged 29 yeeres
[WWW]John Frost of New England mariner but belonging at present to the ship the ”Exchange” of London (John Peirce master) aged 22 yeeres


[WWW]John Clarke of New England Mariner but at Present belonging to the ship the ”Exchange” of London (John Peirce Master) aged 19 yeeres
[WWW]Richard Taylor of Saint Katherines Mariner, aged 20 yeeres
[WWW]Thomas More of Horsey downe in the County of Surry Shipwright, aged 25 yeeres
[WWW]Abraham Ripley Chirurgeon resident at present in the parish of Saint Michaell Woodstreete London, and borne in or neere the same parish, aged 33 yeeres
[WWW]John Duce of Wapping in the County of Middlesex Mariner aged 36 yeeres
[WWW]John Hunter native of Eddenborough Scotland but residing at Present at the signe of the Ball in Saint Lawrence Pountneys Lane London Merchant aged 48 yeeres
[WWW]John Taylor of Limehouse Marriner late Boatswaine of the ship the ”hopewell” Arthur Perkins Master aged about 35 yeeres


[WWW]Godfrey Hembling of Waborne in (?Clay) in Norfolke aged 40 yeeres
[WWW]Morris Briggs of Saint Katherines waterman aged 58 yeeres
[WWW]Abraham Barnaby Citizen and (?Grocer) of London Living at the Tower Liberty aged 32 yeers
[WWW]The Answer of the foresaid Godfrey Hembling to the Interrogatories
[WWW]The answer of the said Morris Briggs To the Interrogatories
[WWW]Captaine Thomas Sprittiman Native of Peterhead in the County of (?BoughXX) in Scotland Mariner, late Master of the ship the ”Golden Starre”, aged 37 yeeres
[WWW]Cornelius De Gelder of London Merchant aged 38 yeeres
[WWW]Henry hart of ffalkirke neere Glascoe in Scotland Mariner aged 30 yeeres
[WWW]Henry hart of ffalkirke (?neere ?Glascoe) in Scotland Mariner aged 30 yeeres
[WWW]Captaine Nathaniel Cobham of dunkirke Commander of a foote Company there, aged 40 yeeres
[WWW]Richard Shament Living in Grubstreete London Chirurgion aged 23 yeeres


[WWW]Alexander Kerr native of Greenock in Scotland but living at Ayre in Scotland Mariner aged about thirty yeeres
[WWW]Alexander Keir of Borrowstonesse neere (?Aenborow) in Scotland Mariner aged about 19 yeeres
[WWW]Alexander Keir of Burroghston neere Edenborowe in Scotland Mariner aged about 19 yeeres
[WWW]James Ker of Glascoe in Scotland Merchant aged 22 yeeres
[WWW]Robert Cuming of Glascoe in Scotland Merchant aged 34 yeeres and upwards
[WWW]Edward Paine of Saint Ives in Cornwall gentleman aged 31 yeeres
[WWW]Collaert Budaert of Calice in ffrance mariner late Master of the ship the ”Saint Lewis” aged 50 yeeres
[WWW]Phillip Mansell of Swanzey Merchant aged 30 yeeres


[WWW]Christianus Tepffer Native of (?GXXX) but lodging at Present in New Gravell Lane in Wapping Mariner aged 32 yeeres
[WWW]Laurence Tyrer of Liverpool in Lancashire Mariner aged 25 yeeres
[WWW]Captaine Owen Sallevanne of Munster in Ireland, Gentleman aged 26 yeeres
[WWW]Colonel Edward Freeman Governour of Tinby Castle in the County of Pembro(?ke) in Southwales aged about 49 yeeres
[WWW]Garret Johnson Conneke of (XXXX) in north Holland mariner aged 35 yeares
[WWW]Jacob van Wallendal dwelling at Rochell Marchant aged 35 yeeres
[WWW]Daniel van Liebergen of Rochell but borne at Amsterdam aged 26 yeeres
[WWW]William Jackson servant to Thomas Burton of London Merchant, aged (XX) yeeres
[WWW]John Bell of Lower Shadwell in the parish of Stepney and County of Middlesex Smith aged 36 yeeres


[WWW]James Do(?w)glas of Allhallowes Barking London Skinner aged 30 yeeres
[WWW]Thomas Greeneleafe of BeereLane London wine Cooper aged 22 yeeres



Patterns in time

With one and a half million words transcribed since the launch of the MarineLives project in September 2012, MarineLives project volunteers can now look for patterns in English Admiralty Court data.

Help us identify and confirm trends and patterns in seventeenth century commercial life. You don’t need to be a historian. You do need to be a pattern seeker.

When did the tobacco ships arrive and depart from Virginia, and what was cost of delay? How did hurricanes affect the Bermudas and Virginia to London trade? How did the harvesting of grapes in the Canaries affect the export of Canary wine to England? How long did it take to sail from the Port of London to the Port of Zant to load raisins for the London market?

Please join us as we build a visual timeline of commercial activities in the 1650s (supplemented by an Access database of commercial events). Help us build the timeline and help us find the patterns in the data.

Please contact us to access the MarineLivesTimeline and, if you wish, to contribute to the same timeline, by exploring our wikis of English Admiralty Court records.

The Timeline

We are building our timeline of commercial activities in the 1650s in a web accessible  Excel based Google document. In parallel with the Google document, we are building an event driven Access database. We are making all data freely available.

The Google document lists events by specific day (where the data are available), and by month (if no day is specified)


Colour coding

We are colour coding events by broad categories to help us as we look for patterns. Currently we are doing events as follows:

Blue: An event concerning a named individual or the crew of a ship

ML_Blue_Feb3rd_1655Brown: An event involving the dispatch of a letter of advice, or some other type of communication, concerning commercial matters






Green:  A general shipping event, such as the arrival or departure of a ship from a specified port


Grey: An event driven by weather conditions








Lilac: An event involving the seizure of a named ship


Purple: An event involving the purchase or sale of a named ship





Red: A political event, such as an embargo imposed by a nation on another nation’s shipping

ML_Red_Feb_1656Yellow: An event involving specified commodites, such as the lading or unlading of goods into or out of a named ship



Summer Programme 2014

We are launching a new collaborative MarineLives programme this June and we hope that you, your friends, your colleagues and your students may be interested in participating.

All activities can be done online from home, at times of the day to suit your personal schedule, and you will be personally supported online by MarineLives team facilitators.

The programme will be run by Jill Wilcox and Colin Greenstreet, and will offer an opportunity for you to improve your manuscript transcription and research skills. The programme is offered without charge to participants – in return we are looking for two to three hours of your time per week for the length of the programme.

We will be running the programme for twelve weeks, from the first week of June through to the end of August, with some leeway for participants who want to get going in the second half of May, or who need to take a holiday break in July or August.


Two goals

Firstly, programme participants will transcribe a portion of HCA 13/73, a volume of English Admiralty Court depositions from the years 1659 to early 1661, and will publish their work on the web. We have already made a start, so you can get a sense of the content by clicking on Annotate HCA 13/73 and looking at some transcribed pages.

Secondly, programme participants will develop their research skills using our accumulated transcribed Admiralty Court material, and through their research work will develop their and our collective understanding of the material – by developing short biographies, thematic analyses, and geographical profiles. If you, or someone you know, are considering an undergraduate or graduate thesis paper next year, this would be a great way to explore potential topics.

We have plenty of suggestions you may wish to follow up on, ranging from the nature of the mid-C17th Thames shoreline, with its docks, wharves and warehouses, to the prevalence of foreign language skills amongst mariners. You may also wish to try mapping some of our datasets, to explore the location of different occupations, or to study the trade routes followed by specific commodities.


Experienced facilitators

We will be running the programme with experienced team facilitators, who will work with small online groups of three to four people.  If the mix of people who sign up is anything like before, we expect to have participants from Europe and the US, and of a wide range of ages and experience. Already signed up to the programme are four second year undergraduate students from Bath Spa University.


So if you are, or know, someone with an interest in social, material and marine history who would like to do something fun and different this summer, please get in touch, by contacting us to learn more about the programme.

Progress since our last collaborative programme in autumn 2012 and spring 2013

What started as the glimmer of an idea in summer 2012 has become a substantial corpus of transcribed material made available on the web through our wikis, through MarineLives-Transcript, and through our blog, the Shipping News.


We have transcribed 2800 pages of material from seven volumes of Admiralty Court depositions in the 1650s and early 1660s, amounting to just short of one and a half million words, and plan to take this to five million words by the end of 2016.

We are also working with Bath Spa University, and the Universities of Mannheim and Saint Andrews on a collaborative research programme.

The first fruits of our research programme will be heard in Reykjavik this May, when academics from the University of Mannheim will read a paper authored in collaboration with the MarineLives team, entitled: Named Entities in Court: The MarineLives Corpus.

The paper introduces the MarineLives corpus to the Natural Language Processing research community, and presents experiments using NLP tools to extract named entities from the corpus.

Perhaps most excitingly, we are developing a bid for Heritage Lottery funds to support the expansion of our activities operationally and in terms of educational outreach.  Our initial pathfinder application has met with a positive response from the Fund, and we are now working on the full proposal.

Sample MarineLives web resources

Communicating MarineLives

The MarineLives project uses a variety of digital and social media to communicate with its volunteers, and to reach a wider and developing public. 

Today’s Shipping News article examines our approach to communication and reviews our use of three specific vehicles – Facebook, Twitter, and the Shipping News blog – and explains our thinking behind their use.

Our early strategy

Our early communication efforts were centred on our website,, and on a wiki-based project manual we developed for our team of transcribers. 

We advertised for volunteer transcribers and team facilitators in a number of online media, ranging from the IHR website to genealogy fora. We also encouraged our early volunteer recruits to recommend the project on to friends and colleagues.

The role of our website was to provide a first port of call for potential volunteers seeking quick information about the project, but our focus was on eliciting email expressions of interest in volunteering.

The conversion rate from an emailed expression of interest to a signed up volunteer was remarkably high at about three to one, and the drop out rate after starting was relatively low.  This we attribute to our explict statement to all volunteers as to our expectations from them in terms of time, and our commitment to train and support volunteers who were grouped into virtual teams of three to five volunteers, with each team supported by a volunteer team facilitator. 

The most productive of our recruitment initiatives was to publish a short article in History Today about the project. 

This single article was the prompt for more than one third of the eventual thirty volunteers who worked on the MarineLives project between September and December 2012.

Our evolving social media strategy

We opened Facebook and Twitter accounts just a couple of weeks after launching our website, in July 2012.  Whereas we had some prior experience of Facebook, Twitter was a completely blank page.

In the early days of the project, we attempted to use Facebook and Twitter to drive viewers to our website, with the hope this would lead to volunteering. We had limited content to share, and the strategy was not a big success.  This was reflected in relatively low views per posting on Facebook.

Our Twitter followership grew more rapidly, with a decent level of response measured in interactions and mentions. We encouraged our volunteers to open their own Twitter accounts and to retweet and comment on our own postings.

Analysis of the followership shows a large number of academics from the fields of history and English literature, at all stages in their careers, together with a significant number of PhD candidates. The third well represented field of followers is drawn from digital humanists, digitally oriented librarians, and web oriented computer scientists. In total, they are drawn mainly from the United Kingdom and North America, but include Italians, Germans, Russians and Japanese.

Our breakthrough in terms of communication with our academic and wider audience came when we established the Shipping News blog in September 2012. This blog has become our vehicle to communicate synthesised content from the English Admiralty Court archives. After an early flurry of articles, we have settled down to a publishing rate of two or three new articles each month.

As our blog has grown in importance, it has replaced our website as our primary vehicle to publish synthesised material.  And as our corpus of full text transcriptions has grown to over 1.5 million words, the citations supporting our blog articles increasingly point through hyper links to a range of wikis containing the full text transcriptions, such as Annotate HCA 13/72 (the Admiralty Court deposition book for the years 1657-58).

Tempting as it has sometimes been to get content “out there”, our most read articles have been those into which we have put most work, in terms of text, images, and interactive maps. Good examples of highly viewed articles are: Fishing for whales, part one (January 22, 2013), The Admiralty Court and the Spanish West Indies (October 7th, 2013), and Language and Identity (November 8th, 2013).

The final piece in the strategy has been to use Colin Greenstreet’s personal account as a repository for published project documents. This is probably not the long term solution, but has the short term merit of being easy to use, with decent analytics of document views, and easy integration with other social media.

The top documents viewed via this repository are our Digital humanities and technical partnership discussion document (July 23, 2013) and our Case study of London whaling ship, the Owners Adventure, in 1656 (September 12, 2013).


Launched: July 20, 2012
Stats: 66 posts, 54 likes, average views per post = 35, highest view post = 270, lowest view post = 16
Use: Steer traffic to Shipping News blog and MarineLives Twitter account


Facebook – MarineLives Masthead, 24/11/13

Recent postings offering strong content and new functionality have achieved significantly higher viewership per posting

Facebook postings, Sep 2012 – Nov 2013

Facebook provides useful tools to monitor organic reach, post clicks, likes, comments and shares

Facebook – MarineLives: All posts, Aug 26 to Nov 23, 2013


Launched: July 11th, 2012
Stats: 364 tweets, 422 followers, average monthly tweets = 21
Use: Publicise new Shipping News blog entries, generate and maintain interest in MarineLives project, create a project voice, and support recruitment of project volunteers


@Marinelivesorg: Profile page

Twitter useful for (1) Recruitment of volunteers (transcription; PhD Forum) (2) Promoting blog and blog postings (3) Establishing academic connections leading to partnership, e.g. Bath Spa University, Universities of Mannheim and Ancona.

The Shipping News blog launch – Twitter response 60 minutes post announcement

PhD Forum – Twitter response 60 minutes post announcement








Launched: September 22, 2012
Stats: 32 postings (avg 2 per month), 20,000 blog visits since launch (vs. 2300 + Facebook visits since launch)
Use: Communicate synthesised, strongly visual content; encourage trial of other MarineLives resources –,,


Shipping News blog views are reported as running at over 2000 per month since the middle of 2013. These data strip out spam and spiders, but still probably contain some automated and other attempts to access or post to the blog.

Close inspection of the individual IP addresses, combined with country of origin, and the specific pages the viewers enter on and dwell on, suggests that the true viewership of the blog is running at 1000 + views per month.

Shipping News: Monthly blog postings, visits and page views, Sep 2012 – Nov 2013

The effect of social media promotion of new blog postings is quick, as can be seen for our posting on the Admiralty Court and the Spanish West Indies in the figure below

Shipping News: Twitter and Blog response to Spanish West Indies blog posting

 The interactive Google Map displayed in the blog posting above has been accessed 240 times since its publication on October 7th 2013.  An earlier map of Admiralty Court depositions by French witnesses in HCA 13/71 (1656-57) was published on December 16th, 2012, and has been viewed a remarkable 2,758 times.


In the figure below, the first peak in blog views was generated by the first two of three Tweets, and the second peak was generated by the one Facebook posting.  First day responses to Tweets and Facebook postings are almost instantaneous, with the great bulk occuring within sixty minutes of the postings.

Shipping News: Twitter and Blog response to Google the Court blog posting

An ideal Twitter response combines straight Retweets of a message with a repackaging and commenting on a message by opinion leaders, as in the example below

@MarineLivesOrg: Twitter interactions to Google the Court posting



Undoubtedly our use of social media will continue to evolve as we gain in experience, and as our project needs change.

We would be delighted to hear your own experiences of using social media as part of your communication strategy with volunteers and audiences of different types.

Please feel free to post your comments to the Shipping News blog, or alternatively to contact us directly.