Collection Description & Arrangement
This handwritten letter book was kept for James Sparrow, who worked for the British Board of Trade as the Receiver of Wrecks at Hull, 1855-1861. The volume begins with an index of correspondents and subjects. While the book primarily records copies of all outgoing mail, there are frequent notes about disposition of matters or copies of replies in the margins.
Biographical & Historical Information
Traditionally, salvage was an important economic source in coastal areas and sometimes exposed the savage and merciless nature of those around the coast. Folklore has it that some coastal dwellers enticed ships to a watery grave by luring them onto the rocks. This was known as wrecking. So that order could be maintained and local people encouraged to save those in peril and their belongings rather than pillage them, Receivers of Wreck were appointed to keep order and reward those who assisted in a wreck event. Historically, Receivers were given powers which allowed them to "hurt, maim or kill" anyone obstructing them in their duties. Theoretically at least Receivers of Wreck were permitted to carry weapons with which to defend themselves whilst carrying out their duties up until 1997.
The main task of the Receiver of Wreck is to process reports of wreck, in the interest of both finder and owner. This involves researching ownership and working with the finder, owner. archaeologists. museums, and other interested parties. The process of reporting wreck provides legal owners the opportunity to be reunited with their property and to ensure that law-abiding finders of wreck receive appropriate recognition in the form of a salvage award.
Wikipedia contributors, "Receiver of Wreck, Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Receiver_of_Wreck (accessed Decmber 1, 2015)
|Donor Information||This book was purchased in November of 1991.|
|Access||There are no restrictions.|
|Use Restrictions||There are no restrictions.|
Letter Book for the Receiver of Wrecks at Hull, MSS 91-2, Special Collections, University of Virginia Law School Library
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