Joined: 27 Mar 2007
| Posted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 9:38 am Post subject: NGS - Reference Numbers and Online` Actions' resource
A) NGS ROLL – Reference Numbers.
A1) The letter / number shown after the name of the Action [e.g. Trafalgar O / 686, in the case of `my man’ Sam Burton], refers to “the reference number given when a claim was first registered”.
A2) As Colin Message explains more fully in the Introduction to his work `Naval General Service Medal 1793-1840 – Alphabetical Roll of Recipients’ [Privately published by Message in association with J.B. Hayward & Son, 1996]:
“As collectors and researchers in this field well know, several NGS rolls have been produced over the years, starting with the pioneering work of Col. D. A. Haines in 1910.
Taken overall, they give a picture of fair accuracy, but a number of deficiencies remain, particularly where men entitled to more than one clasp have not had this (or these) credited to them.
For example, a man with a three clasp entitlement may be shown as two men, one with two clasps and another with one, or even as three men, each with a single clasp.
The basis for the compilation of all these rolls, is the uncollated Claims List in the ADM 171 series in the Public Record Office [now the National Archives, Kew].
Here, every name is associated with a reference number given when a claim was first registered and which was then apparently entered in an alphabetical book. This, unfortunately, has long since disappeared, which is a great shame as it would have saved many men hours of work.
The names with their numbers were then transferred to other books, with separate sections for each action for which a clasp was to be awarded (e.g., St.Vincent, Nile, Trafalgar etc.,) and each claim was individually checked against the Ships’ Muster Rolls.
A gargantuan task.
It should also be mentioned that the allocation of space in these books did not always tally with the number of applications received and the outcome was a considerable muddle and another source of error.
Thus a name and reference number appearing twice (or more) [ in ADM 171] indicates a medal with two (or more) clasps to one man. For the first time [ in Message’s own Roll] these numbers have been shown against all applicants and, as may be seen, the majority of multi-clasp claims conform to this pattern.
But, there being exceptions to every rule, some men were allocated a different number for some or all subsequent applications. Probably this was due to Admiralty clerks failing to recognise that they were dealing with a man who had already made a claim.
Sometimes this was noticed and the words “ additional claim” appear in the roll and sometimes, despite any such endorsement, the correct assignment was made. But, there are several instances of separate medals being issued instead of clasps. It will be noticed that a number of men have two application numbers shown for the same clasp. Presumably this too was done in error and may also have led to the issue of duplicate medals to some men.”
A3) Reflecting on the above – and it really is quite mind-numbing thinking of the clerical process involved at the time – Message’s own achievement in listing alphabetically more than 17400 verified claims, is itself quite astonishing.
A4) The online resource now kindly provided by Dix Noonan Webb, [accessible via the link above and / or within the ‘Hints and Tips for researchers’ area here] derives directly from, and allows 'interactivity' with, Message’s magnum opus.
A5) It may be worth briefly exploring just how `neat’ it actually is. For example, let’s assume you think you know, say, the surname of someone you believe may have received an NGS medal… but you don’t know the forename(s), Actions or Boat Service clasp or clasps involved etc., then simply input the surname [I’ll use the example `DAY’] on this page on the DNW site:
and then press `Search’.
A6) In this instance [DAY] we then see a list of 20 men with the same surname each known to have received an NGS.
Toward the bottom of that list of twenty, we see the name DAY, B.George.S, and see that he received 3 clasps, the first of which was as a Midshipman aboard Revenge at Trafalgar.
By simply clicking on his name now, we are neatly shown the other Actions / Boat Service missions for which additional clasps were awarded, the Ships involved, the rank of the man at the time… and, for those interested, notes on the provenance of the recipients’ NGS where it is known to be extant.
Very neat, imho.
B) NGS ACTIONS & BOAT SERVICE CLASPS – ONLINE DATABASE
As a wonderful companion`tool’ to the Message / DNW online NGS Roll, you can download [really quite rapidly] a Database relating to all known surviving NGS medals.
It is, again, a thing of beauty!
The database not only lists all Actions and all Boat Service engagements which resulted in clasps being awarded,( so there, Patrick, you have the specific `list’ you directly enquire about above), it also records:
Name of Action, Date, Number of Ships involved, Number of Clasps issued.
In addition, on other pages within the spreadsheet / database, it details information, [provenance, dates of sale, prices realised, condition notes etc.] relating to known to be extant, surviving, NGS medals.
Yet another example of a `labour of love’, initially by Jeff Foster and, today, continuing in his footsteps, by Jim Murray.
To ensure credit is made properly, I personally encountered that database via the superb British Medal Forum website; it is very generously made available for free download via the link above.
[Patrick, I’m going to copy the latter part of this post to the Hints and Tips area – and, on that subject, could you consider perhaps putting a `sticky’ on this part of the Site, to permanently flag the availability of that same very valuable resource area?]
Short questions. Long answers. Sorry.
Postscript: some may find the article by John Hayward on the `evolution' of the various NGS Medal rolls to be of interest. Article is on the Spink site, here:
Last edited by alexlitandem on Wed Feb 11, 2009 2:33 pm; edited 1 time in total