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 Transport Board & Transport Agents 
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Post Transport Board & Transport Agents
In his memoirs*, Samuel Walters accepts a position as a Transport Agent. This is a career path that I have not read about before and I wonder if anyone can shred some further light on this subject.

In 1813, Walters found his chances of promotion had vanished. His latest ship "Courageux" (74), where he had served as Third Lieutenant, was paid off in March of that year. He applied to his very first naval captain, James Bowen, who was then working at the Transport Board of the Admiralty. Bowen offered Walters the position of Transport Agent on the hired armed transport "Windham" -- an Indiaman of 878 tons and 22 guns. Agents, always a Naval Lieutenant, and termed a Commander, were supported by a Purser, Boatswain, Gunner, and Carpenter, all appointed by warrant and on Navy pay. Walters made several voyages as Commander of the "Windham" until she was paid off on 15 Sept. 1815.

The 37 Transport Agents employed in 1814-1815 were reduced to 25 in 1816 due to the war ending. Walters was one of the Lieutenants not retained. His naval service ended at that point and he remained on half-pay until his death in 1834.

Don

*From "The Memoirs of an Officer in Nelson's Navy" by Samuel Walters Lieutenant RN -- edited by C. Northcote Parkinson


Last edited by timoneer on Wed Feb 06, 2008 8:51 am, edited 2 times in total.



Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:53 pm
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The WINDHAM was a famous East Indiaman, built on the River Thames in 1800 and made four successful voyages to India/China before running into misfortune on the fifth voyage (1809/10) when she was twice captured by the French and twice retaken, vicissitudes which extended that voyage until August, 1811. She was refitted and hired by the Transport Board and Walters hoisted his pendant in her in May, 1813 for a voyage to Australia. She returned to the River Thames in August, 1815. She was then relinquished by the Transport Board and, with a new Managing Owner, made a sixth and final voyage to China in 1816/7. She was subsequently purchased by the Chilian Government and fitted out as a 3rd Rate and named LAUTARO. She was a unit of Cochrane’s squadron blockading the Spanish frigate ESMERALDA in Talcahuano in 1818 and participated in the cutting out of that ship at Callao in 1820.


Wed Feb 06, 2008 4:08 am
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Post Transport Agents
I found a brief mention of transport agents in N. A. M. Rodger’s "The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain, 1649-1815." On page 384, Rodger states "A significant development in the late eighteenth century was the emergence of the first quasi-professional specialization among commissioned officers, the transport agents. These were officers employed afloat and in uniform by the Navy Board to control and organize merchant ships on charter to the government. Their position was in several respects uncomfortable and ambiguous, because they looked and behaved like sea officers, but were in law only naval officers, not liable to naval discipline. Nevertheless the huge transport force of the American War required a lot of management, and the status of transport agents rose from being a job only for elderly lieutenants. Officers of ability were needed, and commanders-in-chief found means to promote senior transport agents to commander or even captain."

C. Northcote Parkinson offers a few more details in his notes in Samuel Walters’ memoirs. Hired vessels with a Transport Agent (Lt. RN) aboard were distinguished by a blue ensign and a "plain blue common pendant" and could exercise authority over smaller transports which carried no Agent. In the case of a large convoy, one vessel would carry a "Principal Agent" (Commander or Captain RN) with a "Blue Broad Pendant" at the main-top-mast head. Failing a naval escort, his orders were to be obeyed.

Parkinson also states "They [Agents] appeared separately in the List of Sea Officers. They were no longer, in the full sense, fighting men."

Don


Wed Feb 06, 2008 10:13 am
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Post Re: Transport Agents
timoneer wrote:
C. Northcote Parkinson offers a few more details in his notes in Samuel Walters’ memoirs.... In the case of a large convoy, one vessel would carry a "Principal Agent" (Commander or Captain RN)

I found a some additional information illustrating the details from Parkinson’s notes above (with some very familiar names) in the "Journal of Rear Admiral Bartholomew James 1752-1828" via Goggle Books.

In 1793, James was 41 years old and a lieutenant on half-pay. During the peace, he had became captain and part-owner of the merchant ship "Maria" although he was in severe financial difficulties with a family to support. When the war commenced, he volunteered his services to the Admiralty.

On page 227, James writes: "My ship having been taken into government service as a transport, and myself appointed as a [transport] agent through the interest of Mr. [Evan] Nepean, I quitted London November 13, 1793, and joined the fleet at Spithead under the command of Sir Charles Grey and Sir John Jervis, who was assembling a force to go against the French West India Islands, having given up to my creditors the full possession of all I was possessed of in the world, who had appointed Messrs. Abels of Cloak Lane, and Mr. B. Wood, of Bishopsgate Street, as trustees to manage my affairs.

The 27th of this month, the fleet sailed from St. Helens with his Majesty’s ships Boyne, Vengeance, Veteran, and several frigates, with about six thousand troops in transports, and myself as agent in the Acorn under Captain [John] Schank [of sliding keel fame], the principal agent, who had under him Captain Osborne, Captain Mouatt, and eight lieutenants besides myself, all of whom were in different transports, divided into divisions and subdivisions."

I have not read this journal in its entirety but to have Evan Nepean as a patron must have been some comfort to the hard-pressed James. This was prior to Nepean becoming the secretary of the Admiralty. In 1793, he was the commissioner of the privy seal, already with close personal ties to John Jervis (later Earl of St Vincent),

Don


Last edited by timoneer on Wed Feb 06, 2008 11:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:14 pm
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The Transport Board was set up in 1794 to handle the business of transports and to relieve the Navy Board of a time-consuming task. There had been an earlier Board of Transports between 1689 and 1724.

The establishment of the new Board was based on experience gained in the War of American Independence and was strongly supported by Sir Charles Middleton (later Lord Barham), the former Controller of the Navy. By 1806 the Board had taken over the business of the Sick and Hurt Board and had also assumed responsibility for Prisoners of War. It was abolished in 1817 with its business being taken over by the Navy Board once again.

In terms of the Transport Service, the Board was responsible for “the hiring and appropriating of Ships and Vessels for the conveyance of Troops and Baggage, Victualling, Ordnance, Barrack, Commissariate, Naval and Military Stores of all kinds, Convicts and Stores to New South Wales and a variety of miscellaneous services such as the provision of Stores and a great variety of Articles for the Military Department in Canada and many Articles of Stores for the Cape of Good Hope and other Stations”.

There were resident Agents of the Board at domestic ports and at foreign ports frequented by transports. There were also agents afloat who travelled with the transports.


Wed Feb 06, 2008 11:07 pm
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IONIA wrote:
In terms of the Transport Service, the Board was responsible for “the hiring and appropriating of Ships and Vessels for the conveyance of Troops and Baggage, Victualling, Ordnance, Barrack, Commissariate, Naval and Military Stores of all kinds, Convicts and Stores to New South Wales and a variety of miscellaneous services such as the provision of Stores and a great variety of Articles for the Military Department in Canada and many Articles of Stores for the Cape of Good Hope and other Stations”.
Thanks, Ionia, Could I ask where you got such detailed information?

Don


Thu Feb 07, 2008 6:02 am
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The description of the duties of the Transport Board comes from “Parliamentary Papers, 1806 - Reports of the Commissioners Appointed by Parliament to Enquire into the Fees, Gratuities, and Emoluments, which are, or have been lately Received in the Several Public Offices therein Mentioned – Ninth Report”.

I did not mine this myself but obtained it vicariously from the pages of “The Mariner’s Mirror”.


Thu Feb 07, 2008 10:05 am
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One of the agents with the Second Fleet (to NSW) was Lieutenant John Shapcote. Part of his instructions:

"To visit the ships as frequently on the passage as opportunities offer, and see they are wash'd and air'd, and that the convicts are kept clean, have their cloaths [sic] shifted and washed, and as much air given them as possible, consistent with their safety; and that the sick are kept seperate [sic], and the place allotted for them fumigated when necessary; that they are supplied with wine and other necessaries when required by the surgeon; and that justice is done to the whole of them on board, agreeable to contract."

From: History of New South Wales from the Records: Phillip and Grose, 1789–1794 Volume 2 (1894)

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Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:30 am
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susan wrote:
One of the agents with the Second Fleet (to NSW) was Lieutenant John Shapcote. Part of his instructions:

"To visit the ships as frequently on the passage as opportunities offer, and see they are wash'd and air'd, and that the convicts are kept clean, have their cloaths [sic] shifted and washed, and as much air given them as possible, consistent with their safety; and that the sick are kept seperate [sic], and the place allotted for them fumigated when necessary; that they are supplied with wine and other necessaries when required by the surgeon; and that justice is done to the whole of them on board, agreeable to contract."

From: History of New South Wales from the Records: Phillip and Grose, 1789–1794 Volume 2 (1894)


Unfortunately, Shapcote failed in his duty and the mortality in the three ships for which he was responsible was the highest in the history of transportation. Shapcote escaped any formal enquiry by dying between the Cape and Australia.


Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:24 am
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The Times, October 10th, 1803:

" .... PORTSMOUTH, Oct.7 .... The Pandour, one of the Dutch 38-gun ships, commanded by Capt. Shutland, which has hitherto been employed as a troop ship, under the direction of the Transport Board, is ordered to receive her lower deck guns, and to be fitted as a guard-ship. Her destination is, we understand, for the River Shannon, in Ireland. ...."




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Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:32 am
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IONIA wrote:
Unfortunately, Shapcote failed in his duty and the mortality in the three ships for which he was responsible was the highest in the history of transportation. Shapcote escaped any formal enquiry by dying between the Cape and Australia.

Hi Peter,

Yes, from the little I've read, Shapcote seems to have been on the shady side. Edward Riou (lieutenant at the time, post-Guardian wreck) had dealings with him in Cape Town. He wasn't impresed.

There also seems to be some question as to how he died. Foul play, perhaps? Do you know any more details about his death?

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Tue Feb 02, 2010 5:49 pm
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susan wrote:
IONIA wrote:
Unfortunately, Shapcote failed in his duty and the mortality in the three ships for which he was responsible was the highest in the history of transportation. Shapcote escaped any formal enquiry by dying between the Cape and Australia.

Hi Peter,


There also seems to be some question as to how he died. Foul play, perhaps? Do you know any more details about his death?


Susan – I know nothing to suggest that he was done away with.
He seems to have dined with the Master, Trail, and retired below. During the middle watch the female convict with whom he was cohabiting for the voyage came on deck and told the watch that he was dead. There is some suggestion that he was suffering from scurvy (an ironic touch).


Wed Feb 03, 2010 2:44 am
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Prior to the establishment of the Transport Board in 1794, transports were the responsibility of the Navy Board although Admiralty typically made recommendations and endorsed such appointments.

For example, Lieut Henry Chads (1740-1799) [rank: 07 Mar 1759] went out to America in 1775 as an Agent of Transports and returned in Dec 1778 were he resumed half-pay status. Then on 02 Jan 1779, writing from the home of his uncle and surrogate father, Capt James Chads, at the Royal Hospital, Greenwich, he requested (ADM 106/280):
Quote:
Hon’ble Gentlemen
As I have had the Honor of being Employ’d by your Board as an Agent for Transports in America and Monday next being the Day you have fixed for Hireing Transports for foreign Service, I beg leave to request the Honor being Employ’d again in that Station, I am
Hon’ble Gentlemen, your Most Obedient and Most Hum’le Servt H.Chads:
To: The Hon’ble Navy Board.

Writing from memory, I recall that the pay for a Lieutenant, Agent of Transports, was that of a Lieutenant of a 6th rate PLUS five shillings per day with Masters & Commanders (M&C) and Captains, serving as a Principal Agent of Transports receiving pay of a commander of a 6th rate PLUS 15 shillings per day.

Four Lieutenants, Agents of Transports, serving during the American war, were promoted by the theatre Commander-in-Chief and given a “command for a day” in order to establish them in that rank, including:

--- Lieut John Bourmaster, M&C, Albany, Sloop 30 May-01 June 1776; Captain, Renown, 4th rate, 50, 09 Sep 1777.
--- Lieut John Knowles, M&C, Sulphur, Fireship, 29-30 Sep 1778.
--- Lieut Thomas Tonken, M&C, Otter, Armed Ship, 15-16 Dec 1778; Captain, Charlestown, 5th rate, 32, 15-16 May 1780
--- Lieut Henry Chads [above], M&C, Victor, Sloop, 19-20 Sep 1779; Captain, Chatham, 4th rate, 50, 14-15 Apr 1783.

Bourmaster and Knowles both became Admirals but Tonken (died 1790) and Chads (died 1799) would not live long enough.


Sat Feb 20, 2010 6:15 pm
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