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 Navy-Related Societies 
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Post Navy-Related Societies
I've seen references to various societies, I thought I would be good to have a thread about them.

I saw the "Amicable Navy Society" mentioned in a notice printed in The Times. Does anyone know anything about this particular group?

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Fri May 12, 2006 4:06 am
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Post Re: Navy-Related Societies
susan wrote:

I saw the "Amicable Navy Society" mentioned in a notice printed in The Times. Does anyone know anything about this particular group?



I might be able to help on this one from further info in The Times.

In the issue of May 16 1939 is a column headed The Amicable Navy Club - a Venerable Institution which gives the information that it was formed by a number of navy captains in 1739 frequenting Wills Coffeehouse "in Scotland Yard, convenient to the Admiralty ....finding it necessary 'to maintain there libertys as subjects tho they be Officers in The Navy .... instituted them selfs into an Amicable Club, to oppose All Illegal Innovagions, that they may tend to deprive them of the Liberty other British Subjects Enjoy.' "

In 1745, they accumulated surplus funds and " proposals were made to use it for the relief of widows of Navy captains, 'as its well known many Sea Captain's widows are streitned with having short of £40 P Annum...

In 1749 .. had occasion to fulfil its orginal object. The 'Illegal Innovagion' of applying martial law to sea officers on half-pay was proposed... Protests were unavailing...Admiral of the Fleet Sir John Norris, four other admirals and 52 captains presented a petition to Parliament...and carried their point. ...

Between 1776 and 1791 it seems to have fallen into oblivion ... although it was never wound up....in the latter year it was reconstituted as The Amicable Navy Society and opened to all branches of Navy officers....politics were dropped and it was devoted solely to charitable works....every name well known in naval history is to be found... Geary, Rodney, Jervis, Barham, Calder, Nelson, Gambier, to name but a few....."



Im 1808 it became the Naval Charitable Society; King William IV, previously a member became patron and it became Royal Naval Charitable Society and in 1838 "it was incorporated by charter and known as The Royal Naval Benevolent Society, since when there has been no further change."

Please scroll down to see mention of the Society as it is today, and, incidentally, the 1939 entry in The Times commemorated the 200th anniversary of the forming of the Society.

...and P.S. The spelling throughout the quotations are as they appeared and not my rotten typing skills. ;)

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Fri May 12, 2006 10:42 am
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Thanks for digging up all that information, Mil. It's interesting to see how the organization evolved. With all the name changes, it may well be that the societies I've seen mentioned in various places are merely incarnations of the Amicable Navy Society!

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Fri May 12, 2006 4:36 pm
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Another society with ties to the British Royal Navy is the Marine Society, which still exists today.

Here is their website: Marine Society & Sea Cadets

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Mon May 15, 2006 10:44 pm
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The Royal Navy Annuitant Society - established in Devonport (with branches in other locations) in April 1823.

The purpose of the society was to provide a fund for annuities for the widows and children of deceased members. Membership was open to flag officers, captains, commanders, lieutenants, masters, surgeons, pursers, chaplains, marine officers, and their widows.

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Fri Apr 27, 2007 5:24 am
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More about the Amicable Navy Society/Naval Charitable Society from a footnote (Lord Radstock) in Marshall's Royal Naval Biography:

"The Naval Charitable Society was instituted in 1791, for the relief of the indigent orphans, widows, and children of Sea Officers, and also of Officers themselves reduced by misfortune to indigence. From that period to the latter end of the year 1821, acceptable and necessary relief was supplied in no less than two thousand one hundred and ninety-two cases of distress."

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Sat May 26, 2007 3:28 am
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Not strictly related to the navy but had members who were in the navy...the Port of London Society and the Bethel Union Society. Both were involved with promoting religion to sailors.

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Sat Jun 16, 2007 7:30 am
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susan wrote:
More about the Amicable Navy Society/Naval Charitable Society from a footnote (Lord Radstock) in Marshall's Royal Naval Biography:

"The Naval Charitable Society was instituted in 1791, for the relief of the indigent orphans, widows, and children of Sea Officers, and also of Officers themselves reduced by misfortune to indigence. From that period to the latter end of the year 1821, acceptable and necessary relief was supplied in no less than two thousand one hundred and ninety-two cases of distress."


Hello - I've just joined this forum - does anyone know if there are any records for the Naval Charitable Society and if so where - TNA? I have mention of this is correspondence in 1820. Thanks.


Tue Oct 16, 2007 10:48 pm
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Post Re: Navy-Related Societies
Hi Brenda,

Welcome to the SN forum!

In terms of records, I suppose it would depend on what type you are looking for. Perhaps you can contact the Society directly? There is contact information on the RN page Mil linked to:

Mil Goose wrote:
Please scroll down to see mention of the Society as it is today, and, incidentally, the 1939 entry in The Times commemorated the 200th anniversary of the forming of the Society.

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Wed Oct 17, 2007 5:11 pm
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Post Re: Navy-Related Societies
Many thanks for your response, Susan - I'll give it a try.


susan wrote:
Hi Brenda,

Welcome to the SN forum!

In terms of records, I suppose it would depend on what type you are looking for. Perhaps you can contact the Society directly? There is contact information on the RN page Mil linked to:

Mil Goose wrote:
Please scroll down to see mention of the Society as it is today, and, incidentally, the 1939 entry in The Times commemorated the 200th anniversary of the forming of the Society.


Wed Oct 17, 2007 6:37 pm
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Another British society was the Society for the Improvement of Naval Architecture. It was founded to encourage improvements in ship design, for the navy and shipping in general.

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Tue Nov 06, 2007 7:20 am
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susan wrote:
Another society with ties to the British Royal Navy is the Marine Society, which still exists today.

Here is their website: Marine Society & Sea Cadets




.... I thought the following nicely complemented Susan's post:


The Times, July 16, 1795:

" .... yesterday the Anniversary Dinner of the Marine Society was held at the London Tavern; Sir William Dolben in the Chair. According to annual custom the boys who have been cloathed, and educated into the knowledge of nautical affairs, paraded round the room where the Committee dined, and an Ode was sang proper for the occasion. The late Jonas Hanway, Esq. gave great vigor to this undertaking, which may be truly said to be an honour to the age we live in, and hope it will never want proper support. The Rev. Dr Glasse as usual was an attendant at the Meeting, and we wish to announce hereafter the preference of a great number of the Admiralty and Navy Boards, to whom this institution is peculiarly useful, and were his Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence to notice it with his attendance, it would be a mark of propriety and add dignity to his station ...."


I liked the none too subtle hint at the end of the account...;)



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Mon Jan 07, 2008 11:46 am
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Other societies which were all connected and seem to have been set up by many of the same people (including my ggggfr) are:

The Destitute Sailors' Asylum. They at first used a converted warehouse in Dock Street, north of the London Docks. It was set up in 1827 by Capt George C Gambier, Robert J Elliot and Lieut Robert Justice. The inmates paid a few shillings a day and were supposed to be out during the day looking for work, in the evening they were greeted with beef soup and Bible readings.

The Sailor's Home. This was set up in 1828/9 and was a hostel for sailors who were not destitute, but who were between ships or otherwise temporarily unemployed. Joseph Conrad often stayed there, as the seaman Józef Korzeniowski.

The Episcopal Floating Church. This was set up to provide regular Anglican services for seamen visiting the Pool of London. This vessel had formerly been the Royal Navy sloop HMS Brazen (1808). By the 1840s the Floating Church was no longer adequate. The Sailor's Home set up a special committee to raise funds for a permanent seamen's church as a replacement.Prince Albert laid the foundation stone in May 1846, and the church, known as St Paul's, was completed two years later.

The Sailor's Orphan Girls' Episcopal School.

The Naval and Military Bible Society, which still exists today.

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Sun Apr 13, 2008 4:56 pm
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Not a naval club, but one that had naval members—the Raleigh Club.

The purpose of the club was to create "an agreeable friendly and rational Society, formed by persons who had visited all parts of the world."

"The first regular meeting was at the 'Thatched House,' on February 7th, 1827.... The navy was very strongly represented in the club by Captain Beaufort the hydrographer, Basil Hall and Marryat, Franklin and Parry, Smyth, Mangles, Cochrane, Murray, Mansell, Beechey, and Owen..."

The club eventually became affiliated with the Geographical Society and the name was changed to the Geographical Club in 1854.

From Major James Rennell and the Rise of Modern English Geography by Clements R. Markham.

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Fri Jul 04, 2008 5:31 pm
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susan wrote:
Not strictly related to the navy but had members who were in the navy...the Port of London Society and the Bethel Union Society. Both were involved with promoting religion to sailors.

More about the Bethel Seamen's Union. The objectives of the society were:

1. To unite and extend the prayer-meetings now established in various ships on the river Thames.
2. To ascertain the state of British seamen in every sea-port throughout Great Britain, both in the navy and merchant service, and adopt such measure, in connexion with friends in maritime towns, as may best conduce to their moral and religious interest.
3. To establish a foreign correspondence, and solicit information and direction as to the best means of doing good to foreign sailors, so that the limits of this society shall be the circumference of the globe.
4. To publish a Sailors' Magazine.

From: The Christian Herald - Volume 6 (1819), edited by John Edwards Caldwell.

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