Prof. Dr. Margaret Hunt
Uppsala University, Sweden

"The printed appeals that make up HCA 45 are easy to read, engaging, and the most accessible of the Prize Papers. As such they are the perfect class with which to launch the new Portal. They will be appreciated by scholars, students and the general public alike."

Dr. Nick Radburn 
Lancaster University, UK
Co-Editor of the Slave Voyages Project

"Accessible and packed with new information, the printed appeals in HCA 45 are the perfect entry point to the Prize Papers - a project that will be transformational for the study of Atlantic history."

Dr. Bertie Mandelblatt
The John Carter Brown Library,  Brown University
Providence, Rhode Island, USA

"The Prize Papers Portal makes available to scholars crucial primary documents that had previously been difficult to access. These papers are incredible snapshots of the worlds of European and transatlantic trade in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and can be used to investigate all kinds of questions from many fields: not only economic, maritime, political and legal history but also social and cultural history. Moreover, the filters and metadata provided by the portal allows for new and very useful kinds of searches."

Online First: HCA 45

HCA 45 High Court of Appeals for Prizes: Case Books (Printed Appeal Papers)

This part of the Prize Papers collection will go online first. It comprises 55 fully digitized “Case Books”, volumes of printed court papers documenting the appeal cases held in the period between 1793 and 1815 before the High Court of Admiralty in London and in the territories that formed the British colonies. These documents covering more than 57,000 photographed pages can be searched according to various criteria and are connected to legal proceedings that were conducted during the French Revolutionary War or the Napoleonic Wars.

The TNA series HCA 45 contains bound volumes of printed appeals presented to the Lords Commissioners of Prize Appeals by litigants, with judgments written in. Those for 1793 to 1815 are presented here, to allow in-depth exploration of maritime trade, communications and warfare across the globe.

The litigants provided their own narratives of voyages and captures and the text of depositions and judgments from the earlier court cases. The appendices print (in full English transcript) the ship's papers, cargo lists, accounts and letters, used to prove the nationality of ship or goods.  The prize courts appealed from could be the High Court of Admiralty in London, or one of the many British Vice-Admiralty Courts in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, the Northwest Atlantic or in Africa and India.

Appeals by enemies were not possible, although British captors disputed their own shares of the spoils of war, from both neutrals and enemies. Only neutrals could hope for restoration, and so 60% were about United States ships (neutral until the War of 1812) and 30% about ships from Denmark, Sweden, and Germany. Numerous appeals concern slave trading-ships. Some are for trade to and from India, China and the East; more are for trade along the coasts of Europe, or the west Atlantic coast, or between the Caribbean coasts and islands – all linking people across the world.

The archival cataloguing and pagination of this collection HCA 45 was carried out with additional support of the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation.