HMS Suffolk 1778. (74 gun Warship)


A friends of Dundee City Archives’ volunteer has been cataloguing Duncan Family Papers and early in 2004 came across a nondescript quarto notebook. On examination it became clear that it contained a crew list from 1778. It was clearly a find of some importance and was passed to another volunteer to transcribe the material into a database. When this stage was completed it became possible to survey the contents of what was now obviously the Muster Roll of a warship. Admiral Adam Duncan

Adam Duncan, later Admiral Lord Duncan victor of the Battle of Camperdown, was listed as a captain who seemed to have joined the ship on 12th May 1778. From evidence in a Factsheet from the Royal Naval Museum he returned to active service at about this time as a Post Captain on the Suffolk, a 74 gun third-rate warship, but moved soon after to the Monarch, another 74 gun warship. Other papers in the Archives show that he made the later move in December 1778. So, with certainty the find can be dated to Duncan’s time on the Suffolk, 74. Its survival is a happy chance.

The internal evidence is consistent with the pattern and distribution of the crew of a third-rate ship except that no Marines are listed. Further confirmation of the list’s connection with the Suffolk comes from appearance of William Gordon Rutherford, a captain’s servant, whose life story can be found on the Internet. Starting out on the Suffolk he progressed to be an officer, gaining distinction with Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar, and dying in 1818, aged 54, as one of the captains of Greenwich Hospital.

The book and the associated database provide an intriguing glimpse of the 497 members of  the crew of a Georgian warship and of an early episode on the life of a famous Admiral, Adam Duncan.


HMS Suffolk Muster Roll of 1778


Third Rate 74 gun Warship


Suffolk Muster Roll 1
Suffolk Muster Roll 2
Suffolk muster roll 3
HMS Suffolk Muster Roll
HMS Suffolk Muster Roll
Entry for Capt Adam Duncan
Suffolk Muster roll 4
William G. Rutherford
Third rate warship
Entry for William G. Rutherford