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Monday, April 25, 2011

Piratical Humor

Tongue-in-cheek crewlists of privateers 

As we all know (though perhaps some of us don't) a privateer was a Licensed Pirate.  He had a certificate called a Letter of Marque, issued by a monarch or some other person of great power, which gave him permission to attack, seize, and plunder ships of rival countries.

There is a group of dedicated researchers who call themselves  the Letters of Marque and Reprisals (LoMaR) Transcription project, who are transcribing all the paperwork to do with this dangerous and profitable kind of swashbuckling seafaring.

One of their members, Chris Maxworthy, recently shared a collection of humorous crewlists, made up by the captains of privateers.

As he remarks, occasionally the captains or agents were in such a rush to lodge the paperwork that they made up the names of the key personnel of the ship.   And this was where they displayed a hearty sense of humor.

Take, for instance, the whaleship Thetis of London (226 tons), commanded by Captain Henry Mackie.

According to the list, the mate was called Thomas Tipple (a hard drinker?)

The gunner was George Report
The boatswain was Thomas Bowline
The carpenter was Richard Chip
The cook was William Cabbage
And George Lancet was the surgeon

And then there is the good ship Withywood

Gunner:  James Ball
Boatswain, Tom Piper
The carpenter was Christopher Chip (Dick Chip's brother?)
The cook was John Lamb
And the surgeon was Richard Limb

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