Commissioners for the care of Sick and Wounded Seamen and for the care of Prisoners of War were first appointed during the Dutch wars. Between 1692 and 1702 and between 1713 and 1715 their duties were performed by the Commissioners of the Register Office and from 1715 until 1717 by two Commissioners of the Navy Board. One Commissioner each from the Sick and Hurt Board and the Navy Board then conducted the business from the Navy Office until 1740, when at least two Commissioners of the Sick and Hurt Board were appointed during peace and up to five in wartime. This Board appointed ships' surgeons and their assistants, ensured that they were equipped and supplied with medicines, superintended the dispensers who issued medicines, supervised the furnishing and equipment of hospitals and hospital ships, examined and cleared accounts and made returns of the sick and wounded to the Admiralty and Navy Boards. In 1743 the Board was also made responsible for the care of prisoners of war. In 1796 this duty was transferred to the Transport Board which in 1806 also became responsible for caring for the sick and wounded seamen.
The records were transferred to the Museum in 1938 by arrangement with the Admiralty. They consist of eighty volumes of in-Letters from the Admiralty, 1702 to 1806. Fifty-two of these volumes relate to the care of sick and hurt seamen, 1702 to 1708, 1715 to 1750, 1750 to 1806 (class mark, ADM/E); seventeen to the care of prisoners of war, 1743 to 1750; a further two volumes to the care of American prisoners, 1777 to 1783; and nine more to the care of French, Spanish and Dutch prisoners, 1778 to 1783 (ADM/M).
Public records: records of the central administration of the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy