Nautical Hardships


Practical Seamanship
War At Sea
Nautical Hardships
Nautical Fiction

Bibliography & Credits

Sad Nevvs from the Sea, Being a True Relation of the Losse of That Good Ship Called the Merchant Royall Which Was Cast Away Ten Leagues from the Lands End on Thursday Night Being the 23 of Septemb. Last, 1641. [London?],1641.

On a return trip from Spain, the English ship the Merchant Royall sprung a leak below the waterline. When the chains for both of the ship's pumps broke, the crew realized that the ship would soon sink. According to this pamphlet, the Merchant Royall was loaded at the time with "300000 pound in ready boloigne [bullion], 100000 pound in gold, and as much value in Iewels". The crew and passengers were rescued by a nearby vessel, but the treasure went down with the ship. The loss was felt so deeply by the captain of the Merchant Royall that upon landing on shore, he "repaired to his house and family, and will not be seene or spoken with (as yet) by any his griefe is so great". The illustration used on the title page was copied from William Bourne's A Regiment for the Sea (1577), although it was altered to remove the original coats of arms on the sails.

The Sailor's Happines, or A Scheme to Prevent the Impressing of Seamen. London, for W. Clarke, 1751.

Due to trouble finding recruits to man their ships, the British Royal Navy frequently resorted to the practice of impressment during the eighteenth century. Anyone was liable to be forced into service by roving "press gangs", although most of the men pressed into service had some experience on the sea. In addition to the painful sudden separation from families and friends (discussed by the author of this pamphlet in the section on display here), pressed sailors were typically paid less than volunteers.

The Sailors Groans, Or A Short, but Faithful Relation of Many of the Horrid Abuses and Oppressions Our English Seamen Lay under During the Late War...By A Saylor. London, 1702.

Life on board a ship at sea was often difficult, especially for pressed sailors and other members of the crew who were "before the mast" (so called because their sleeping quarters were in the ship's forecastle) as opposed to midshipman and officers. In this passage "a Saylor" describes canings and other misfortunes facing such crew members during the period.

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