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Author Topic: procedure for joining a ship in 1820  (Read 72 times)

johnbennett

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procedure for joining a ship in 1820
« on: 20 May 2018 09:17:41 AM »

My family research has unearthed that my grt grt grt grandad who served as a coastguard for most of his life had a brief naval career, 1819- 1824 serving on two ships HMS Conqueror and HMS Cambrian. I have two questions. One he joined HMS Conqueror in 1819 but the ship at that time was guarding Napoleon on St Helena. would the navy send a new recruit to a ship 6000 miles away or just load him onto one in port at the time... his record shows him being 20 yrs old and joining as an able seaman. I am thinking could he have joined earlier as a 'boy' and they only started recording him when made an able seaman. the other query is regarding what he did for five years between 1824 and 1829 when he joined the coastguard service... is it common for naval ratings to go into merchant shipping for instance...only after suggestions as i know specifics would be very hard to find....oh his name was Robert William Bennett from Ipswich
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PhiloNauticus

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Re: procedure for joining a ship in 1820
« Reply #1 on: 20 May 2018 02:07:34 PM »

Although officers could embark on a career in the Royal Navy, in 1819 seamen did not "join the Navy" - the Navy employed ratings on a casual basis - individual ships recruited men anyway they could: financial inducements and pressing were both legitimate methods.
On foreign stations, like St Helena, ships would frequently take men from merchant ships (whether they liked it or not).  If he was rated Able Seaman on joining the Conqueror, then this meant that he was already an experienced sailor - able to reef and steer and heave the lead - normally only attained after five years or so at sea. 

Men would only be employed by the Navy for the length of the commission, they were then paid-off and were free to move wherever they wished: although sometimes the Admiralty would order a ships company to be 'turned over' to a ship about to be commissioned.

For the seamen of the time,  they moved constantly and easily between merchant and naval service, enjoying the freedom to choose whatever ship they wished to join, so a mixed record is quite normal and indeed the usual.

If he joined the ship at St Helena, then I would suggest that he was 'recruited' from a passing merchant vessel, and after leaving Cambrian, he went back to merchant service.

Have you checked the Pay and Muster Books for Conqueror ? - they sometimes indicate a previous ship
 
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johnbennett

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Re: procedure for joining a ship in 1820
« Reply #2 on: 21 May 2018 08:11:09 AM »

many thanks Philo, fantastic summary of the 'navy way' of doing things in those days opened a new set of avenues for me, I have visited the National Archives to research my man, but concentrated on his Coastguard career and a spell back in the navy in the 1850s when a lot of coastguards were posted back into the navy during the Crimean war.. So its another visit


John
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