Convoy Instructions were issued by the protecting naval force, and outlined procedures and conduct required of every vessel in the convoy. The example above was a British document given to an American merchant vessel, sailing as a neutral under British protection, ca. 1800.
Instructions were usually printed, and often varied in detail and composition. The signature of the convoy commander and the name of the vessel or master receiving the instructions might appear on the document as well as illustrations – sometimes in color – of the flag or lantern codes used during the voyage. These documents might be found in collections of American maritime manuscripts form the colonial and early national periods, when our interests on the high seas were much less secure.