Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section

Leaflet Guides to Records:


RECORDS OF BRAVERY AWARDS AT GUILDHALL LIBRARY


INTRODUCTION 

The Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library holds three collections relating to awards for bravery bestowed by private organisations. This leaflet provides information on the main sources in these collections for the recipients of awards, as well as background information on the organisations that bestowed them.

Records of gallantry awards made by the state can be found at The National Archives (see below).

LLOYD'S PATRIOTIC FUND

The Fund was established in 1803 on the resumption of the Napoleonic Wars, under the auspices of Lloyd's of London (although as a separate entity). The Patriotic Fund, as it was originally known, made honorary awards between 1803 and 1809, usually in the form of swords or silver vases, for acts of bravery in battle. A total of 153 swords and 66 vases were commissioned by the Fund in this period. From 1809 it restricted itself to granting financial support to 'the relief of Widows, orphans and relatives who depend for support on those who fell in the cause of their country', as well as to prisoners of war, schools, hospitals and injured soldiers.

For alphabetical lists of recipients of awards, see Jim Gawler, Britons Strike Home (Sanderstead, 1993), available at the Manuscripts enquiry desk, or Charles Messenger, Unbroken Service (London, 2003). Both volumes are available in the Printed Books Section of Guildhall Library.

Reference

Description

Years Covered

Ms 31590

Minute books of the Trustees. Contain brief details of recommendations for awards.

1803-1993

Ms 35166

Printed reports of Trustees' meetings. Give full transcripts of letters read at the meetings, often outlining the event for which an award was to be made.

1804-8

Ms 31591

Ledger. Includes accounts for the purchase of swords and vases.

1803-61

LLOYD'S MEDALS

Lloyd's of London emerged in the 18th century as the market for marine insurance. In the 19th century it established a system of medals to recognise acts of courage at sea.

The first medal awarded by Lloyd's of London was Lloyd's Medal for Saving Life at Sea. It was instituted in 1836 and bestowed in recognition of bravery in rescuing, or attempting to rescue, those whose lives were endangered at sea. In 1974, it became Lloyd's Medal for Saving Life. Gold, silver and bronze medals were struck, although the gold medal has been awarded only once, to Captain Edward Evans, in 1921.

Lloyd's Medal for Meritorious Services was created in 1893, to be awarded to those who by their endeavours averted damage to, or loss of, vessels and their cargoes. The medal was at first issued in bronze, 1893-1900; then in silver only, 1900-17; and finally, from 1917, in silver and bronze.

Lloyd's War Medal for Bravery at Sea was introduced in 1940. It was devised for bestowal on officers and men of the merchant marine and fishing fleets in recognition of acts of exceptional gallantry in wartime. See also Hazardous Circumstances: A Register of Awards of Lloyd's War Medal for Bravery at Sea 1939-1945, compiled by R J Scarlett (Dallington: Naval & Military, 1992).

Initially, medals were voted at General Meetings of the subscribers of Lloyd's, and brief details can be found in the minutes of General Meetings (Ms 31570). From 1870, decisions were made by the Committee of Lloyd's alone, and noted in the minutes of the Committee (Ms 31571). In 1941, responsibility for medals was handed to the Medals Sub-Committee, which had been set up in the first instance to design and make recommendations for the award of Lloyd's War Medal for Bravery at Sea.

Minutes of the Medals Sub-Committee are not held by the Manuscripts Section but have been retained by Lloyd's. Lloyd's Medal for Services to Lloyd's was introduced in 1913. Records pertaining to it are also retained by Lloyd's.

For further information about Lloyd's medals, see Jim Gawler, Lloyd's Medals, 1836 - 1989 (Toronto, 1989), copies of which are held in the Printed Books Section and at the Manuscripts enquiry desk.

Lloyd's Medal for Saving Life at Sea

Reference

Description

Years Covered

Ms 31610

Correspondence and papers relating to awards of Lloyd's Medal for Saving Life at Sea, arranged by date of incident. In 1974 the medal was renamed Lloyd's Medal for Saving Life. Indexed by name of recipient in Jim Gawler, Lloyd's Medals, 1836 - 1989 (1989).

1901-91

Lloyd's Medal for Meritorious Services

Reference

Description

Years Covered

Ms 31611

Correspondence and papers relating to awards of Lloyd's Medal for Meritorious Services, arranged by date of incident. Indexed by name of recipient in Jim Gawler, Lloyd's Medals 1836-1989 (1989).

1902-1985

 Lloyd's Medal for Saving Life at Sea AND Lloyd's Medal for Meritorious Services 

Reference

Description

Years Covered

Ms 31612

Correspondence and papers relating to awards of Lloyd's Medal for Saving Life at Sea and Lloyd's Medal for Meritorious Services, for which no other papers survive. Arranged by date of incident. Compiled 1960s-90s by Lloyd's staff in the course of answering enquiries. Indexed by name of recipient in Ms 31613.

1837-1943

Ms 31614

Extracts from minutes relating to awards of Lloyd's Medal for Saving Life at Sea and Lloyd's Medal for Meritorious Services, for which no other papers survive. Arranged chronologically. Typescript volume compiled in 1978 by Jim Gawler. Consists of extracts from minutes of General Meetings, 1837-69 (Ms 31570), minutes of the Committee of Lloyd's, 1878-1923 (Ms 31571), and minutes of the Medals Sub-Committee, 1945.

1837-1943

Ms 31615

Index to vessels involved in incidents for which Lloyd's Medal for Saving Life at Sea and Lloyd's Medal for Meritorious Services were awarded, compiled 1970s-90s. Correspondence and papers relating to these vessels can be found in Mss 31610-11, arranged by date of incident. Please note that the references to documents in this index do not relate directly to Mss 31610-11 and the documents to which they do relate are not known.

1913-20

       

Lloyd's War Medal for Bravery at Sea

Reference

Description

Years Covered

Ms 31617

Reports of incidents submitted to the Medals Sub-Committee, with notes of their recommendations for awards of Lloyd's War Medal for Bravery at Sea.

Reports were compiled by the Admiralty and passed to Lloyd's, where further information was added. Indexed by name of recipient and vessel in Ms 31619/2, available in the Manuscripts Reading Room. Also

indexed by name of recipient in Jim Gawler, Lloyd's Medals 1836-1989 (1989).

1939-48

Ms 31619/1-2

Lists of awards of Lloyd's War Medal for Bravery at Sea published in Lloyd's List, 1941-7. Compiled 1970s-90s. Vol. 2 includes an index (numbered

1-530) to awards by name of recipient and vessel.

This index covers awards published in Lloyd's List and those unpublished. Compiled late 20th century.

Vol. 2 is available in the Manuscripts Reading Room.

1941-7

 

     

SOCIETY FOR THE PROTECTION OF LIFE FROM FIRE

The Society was established in 1836, after a previous attempt to set up such a society in 1828 failed. It was formed in reaction to high death rates from fires in domestic properties. Its aims were to provide men and equipment (mostly mobile fire escapes) to assist in rescues from fires. It also bestowed awards for individual acts of bravery in rescuing victims from fire. Until 1867 these were for incidents in London only. Thereafter, as it gave up responsibility for fire escapes and attendants, it gradually spread its remit for the bestowal of awards countrywide. It maintains this function today. By 1970 it had considered over 20,000 cases. The Society has made awards of certificates, medals, cash sums and, on occasion, watches.

Ms number

Description

Years covered

Ms 34980

Minutes of general and committee meetings. Include brief details of applications for, and grants of, some awards (by no means all are minuted).

1844-1998

Ms 34982

Annual reports. Include awards, arranged by case number. Until 1949 they give name of recipient, occupation, award, date and cause of fire, person rescued and location of fire. Thereafter they give only a brief description of the incident, and details of the recipient and award.

1892-1974

(incomplete)

 PRINTED SOURCES

 Brief notices of awards bestowed by the state (but not campaign medals) are recorded in the London Gazette, a complete set of which is held in the Printed Books Section of Guildhall Library. A scanned version of the London Gazette is now available online for the 20th century (www.gazettes-online.co.uk). The original records of such awards are held at The National Archives, Kew, Surrey TW9 4DU, 020 8876 3444, or via email.

The Printed Books Section also contains various printed works on awards and medals. See, in particular, P E Abbott and J M A Tamplin, British Gallantry Awards (London, 1981), which contains details of each award with reference to where original records are held and where citations can be found.


Last updated September 2007

Leaflet Guides to Records

Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section