Types of Ships' Records

Ships' Logs (C.1)

Logs of Hudson's Bay Company ships, recording weather, sea conditions, ship's location, progress, and the activities of the crew. When on the high seas, the entries are in a tabular form noting hours, speed, course, winds, weather, and other remarks. The logs frequently include crew and passenger lists. Note that the nautical day runs from noon till noon: therefore 31 July at sea would begin at noon on 30 July.

Seamen's Wages Books (C.2)

Account books of wages paid to officers and seamen. Pay of individual crew members is included for the period ca. 1726–1735. From 1736–1792, wages were advanced to captains in a single payment. These advances include gratuities for services rendered and for hazardous duty.

Portledge Books (C.3)

Accounts of advances made to crew members.

Ships' Movements Book (C.4)

Record the disposition and movement of the HBC's ships, including a list of dates of arrivals and departures to and from posts in the Bay and the Pacific Northwest. The records are in a tabular form recording the year and location of each ship.

Marine Insurance Books (C.5)

Freight Books (C.6)

Contain Accounts of freight shipped from Great Britain. Recorded are number, package, contents, dimensions, volume, weight, freight charges, and often consignor and consignee. They are arranged chronologically.

Miscellaneous Papers (C.7)

Includes accounts, receipts, bills of lading, inventories, cargo manifests and other records of provisions and stores. Also included are crew and passenger lists, appraisals of the condition and value of ships, reports, estimates, tenders, contracts for repairs and refurbishing of ships, specifications and plans of ships and gear, advertisements, agreements, charter parties, insurance policies, certificates of registration, licenses, documents concerning loss or damage to ships or cargo, instructions to commanders of warships and ships having letters of marque, and records of duty and entry fees. Some particular types of papers are described below:

  • Balance Sheets were produced in the London Office for each vessel at the end of each outfit or voyage (if longer).
  • Bills of Health were written by the officer in charge of a particular post to ensure clearance from quarantine on the vessel's arrival in London. Most bills of health in C.7 are from York Factory.
  • Bills of Lading were produced in three or four copies. Those in C.7 are the captain's and/or London copies. Post copies are found in posts' miscellaneous papers.
  • Bills of Sale are legal records of transfer of ownership, produced either in London or, in the case of sales abroad, forwarded from the relevant post.
  • Certificates of Classification, Registration, and Survey were legally required by the Merchant Shipping Act of 1854. They were produced usually by Lloyds in London or their Canadian and American counterparts and sent to London.
  • Charter Parties were usually produced at the port where the ship was being chartered and forwarded to London. Most in C.7 come from Victoria.
  • Crew Lists were sent to the London Office by the captain of the ship immediately before setting sail.
  • Customs Certificates are captain's records acquired during the voyage.
  • Declarations of Ownership were another legal requirement of the Merchant Shipping Act (1854). Those in C.7 come from Victoria.
  • Government Instructions to Captains were instructions issued by H.M. Government to captains of warships and privateers concerning the powers of search, free passage, and procedures to be followed on sighting enemy or neutral ships. Orders-in-Council relating to permission for trade with specific ports are also provided. They are arranged chronologically.
  • Instructions to Captains were issued by the HBC to its captains at the beginning of voyages. They outlined the destination(s) and purpose(s) of the voyage, conditions to be maintained on board, and procedures to be followed when trading with natives, meeting an enemy, arriving in London, etc. They are arranged chronologically.
  • Official Descriptions were sent from Victoria apparently to inform the London Board of the type of vessel HBC Victoria staff was considering chartering.
  • Provision Books contain lists of provisions issued. They were given to the captain at the outset of a voyage.
  • Sailing Orders, see Instructions to Captains above.