Elena

Stupid question - shoes and boots

62 posts in this topic

I saw mentioned in this forum and maybe somewhere else for reenactors that they should use buckled shoes and no way boots. But boots existed before the Age of Sail, as far as I know (and I have read about various people being described in books). Then... why?

I really want to know...

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It's not so much 'no way boots', but 'no way bucket boots of the kind sported by Jack Sparrow et al and popularly associated with pirates'.

'Bucket boots' of the kind worn by Sparrow and co were riding boots, they are completely impractical for any kind of use at sea. Now, in the middle of the 17th century they were also a generally fashionable footwear, but by the end of the century (ie. by the GAoP), were worn pretty much only by those people riding horses, and anyone with any pretence of fashion was wearing shoes.

Furthermore, there's virtually no evidence of pirates wearing such boots. Henry Teonge, a naval chaplain in the 1670s, rode from his home to London where he was due to join his ship, and when he reached London sold his horse, saddle, and boots, on the grounds that he no longer needed them. When Ned Low's pirates captured a ship carrying a cargo of horses they had great fun riding about the decks, but suffered lots of falls. They berated the ship's master for not carrying boots as well as horses - ie, they had no riding boots of their own.

In short, although boots existed, it is highly unlikely that 'bucket boots' were worn by seamen, including pirates, because:

-they are utterly impractical on a ship

-they were considerably more expensive than shoes

-they were not at all fashionable

-there is no evidence of them being worn by pirates

-there is actually evidence against them being worn by pirates.

-additionally, in terms of reenactors, most of the boots being worn are not authentic copies of 18th century riding boots, so even if the use of riding boots by pirates could be justified (which it can't) then the boots in use are still wrong anyway.

There are, of course, various arguments put forward by people who want to wear them anyway.

Pirates didn't give a damn about fashion and if they thought they looked cool would have worn them. Unfortunately, we are generally conditioned by the fashions of our peers as to 'what looks cool', so it's unlikely that pirates would have found bucket boots any more 'cool' than the rest of society.

It doesn't matter that they were expensive, pirates would just have stolen them. From whom? A handy regiment of cavalry trotting over the Atlantic?

We don't have evidence of what every single pirate looked like, so we can't say for certain that they were never worn. True, but we do have a lot of evidence about the clothing of pirates and other seamen and it doesn't include riding boots. Neither does it change the fact that they were expensive, rare, unfashionable and impractical.

There is evidence of boots being worn by seafarers. For example, a calf-length boot was recovered from the wreck of the Vasa (1620s, so a bit early), and an ankle-length laced boot was recovered from the wreck of HMS Stirling Castle (1703), and there is evidence of fishermen wearing long boots. But none of those are the 'bucket boots' so beloved of Hollywood and pirate illustrators.

Does that answer your question sufficiently?

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Thank you,. Foxe, it was more than enough. :)

Of course, when somebody describes a sailor who wears boots (in the books where I had read it or in my games - because I asked about it now and not before, simply because I was curious when I read it on various sites that it is not recommendable, but I forgot to ask until I saw a new sailor described as wearing boots in an application on my game) they are not described what kind of boots.

There is evidence of boots being worn by seafarers. For example, a calf-length boot was recovered from the wreck of the Vasa (1620s, so a bit early), and an ankle-length laced boot was recovered from the wreck of HMS Stirling Castle (1703), and there is evidence of fishermen wearing long boots.

Well, somehow I knew too that sailors wore boots. And this was exactly why I was wondering why several sites said "no boots, but shoes" - which, in my opinion, were for richer, more elegant people. (When I said "boots", I didn't think about Jack Sparrow's, but something simpler and cheaper).

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as a side note to foxe's information. If we look at GAOP protestant new england laws, where many Caribbean pirates are rumored to be from, Massachusetts sumptury laws make issue of cobblers making boots as they are an excess of waste as they take seven times the amount of leather and suit no further gain.

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Well, somehow I knew too that sailors wore boots. And this was exactly why I was wondering why several sites said "no boots, but shoes" - which, in my opinion, were for richer, more elegant people. (When I said "boots", I didn't think about Jack Sparrow's, but something simpler and cheaper).

Even amongst the poorer classes shoes seem to have been far more common than boots. The Admiralty Slop Contracts throughout the GAoP specify buckled shoes, for example. There are plenty of examples of shoes recovered from shipwrecks, but the two I cited above are the only boots I can think of off the top of my head. Even taking 'boots' in the widest sense, shoes were still more common.

Stirling Castle Boot:

goodwinboot.jpg

Vasa Boot:

85985499.jpg

Neither of which are remotely like the typical 'pirate boot':

pirate_capt.jpg

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Good stuff as usual Foxe. In my "Pirate Myth Busters" presentation, i have a good time talking about boots.

<div><br></div><div>Speaking of boots, does anyone have a good link to large and complete images of the drawings of a Spanish Sailor 1717-1756 or a place to get it?

spanish-1.jpg

Edited by Ivan Henry aka Moose

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LOUD APPLAUSE FROM THEE BALCONY! ;)

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I think what bothers me most is people not wearing their riding boots properly. They are not supposed to be flopping around near the ground. If you refer to period illustrations, they are folded down to the foot, and then about half is folded back up to form the open "bucket" top. This bothers me more than the fact that they are wearing boots. I dunno...... just a pet peeve of mine !!!

>>>>> Cascabel

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Foxe & all,

Though a very early reference - even so for my buccaneer impression - following are some historical thoughts on boots that might be of interest here as they’re contemporary observations. Again, very early era and certainly not GAoP but methinks is worth putting in this thread as general historical boot info.

Source material: Two Centuries of Costume in America, Vol. 1, 1620-1820 (chapter XIV, Batts and Broags, Boots and Shoes) by Alice Morse Earle 2003, available online as a Project Gutenberg e-Book: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/10115/10115-h/10115-h.htm##VII

“So great was the use and abuse of leather that a petition was made to Parliament in 1629 to attempt to restrict the making of great boots:

‘The wearing of Boots is not the Abuse; but the generality of wearing and the manner of cutting Boots out with huge slovenly unmannerly immoderate tops. What over lavish spending is there in Boots and Shoes. To either of which is now added a French proud Superfluity of Leather.’

‘For the general Walking in Boots it is a Pride taken up by the Courtier and is descended to the Clown. The Merchant and Mechanic walk in Boots. Many of our Clergy either in neat Boots or Shoes and Galloshoes. University Scholars maintain the Fashion likewise. Some Citizens out of a Scorn not to be Gentile go every day booted. Attorneys, Lawyers, Clerks, Serving Men, All Sorts of Men delight in this Wasteful Wantonness.’

‘Wasteful I may well call it. One pair of boots eats up the leather of six reasonable pair of men's shoes.’ "

Brass

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Good stuff as usual Foxe. In my "Pirate Myth Busters" presentation, i have a good time talking about boots.

<div><br></div><div>Speaking of boots, does anyone have a good link to large and complete images of the drawings of a Spanish Sailor 1717-1756 or a place to get it?

spanish-1.jpg

That was posted here a few years back, in its entirety, I had it saved to my last computer, (but it got zapped by lightning while we were in town and I lost tons of stuff that day). I don't have much luck with the archives search, but I am certain that this image was posted here at one time.

Bo

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There is yet oonnnnneeee more reason sailors would not wish to wear boots on board a ship.....in the event that you fell overboard.....they would cause you to sink quite quickly........now i have hear it mentioned(though i have not a source on it) that sailors in period, where not quite as good at swimming as one would think......but by all means...lets not speed up your drowning with boots to drag you down......man i love the stirling castle wreck, i wooulldd looovvee to see drawings of what they think the prototype wheel on her looked like....*cough...if anyone has one...*cough......

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Thank you,. Foxe, it was more than enough. :)

Of course, when somebody describes a sailor who wears boots (in the books where I had read it or in my games - because I asked about it now and not before, simply because I was curious when I read it on various sites that it is not recommendable, but I forgot to ask until I saw a new sailor described as wearing boots in an application on my game) they are not described what kind of boots.

There is evidence of boots being worn by seafarers. For example, a calf-length boot was recovered from the wreck of the Vasa (1620s, so a bit early), and an ankle-length laced boot was recovered from the wreck of HMS Stirling Castle (1703), and there is evidence of fishermen wearing long boots.

Well, somehow I knew too that sailors wore boots. And this was exactly why I was wondering why several sites said "no boots, but shoes" - which, in my opinion, were for richer, more elegant people. (When I said "boots", I didn't think about Jack Sparrow's, but something simpler and cheaper).

A few things to remember about the Vasa - it was a warship, not a pirate ship. Not everyone on it was a sailor. The officers would have dressed in the height of fashion which did include bucket top boots which were in fashion at the time. They were out of fashion by the GAoP.

Bucket top boots are really thigh-high boots that have been folded down and back up. When you were riding you would pull them all the way up and they acted like chaps, protecting the leg and pants. When on foot, you would fold them down to show off your fashionable breeches.

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There is yet oonnnnneeee more reason sailors would not wish to wear boots on board a ship.....in the event that you fell overboard.....they would cause you to sink quite quickly........now i have hear it mentioned(though i have not a source on it) that sailors in period, where not quite as good at swimming as one would think......but by all means...lets not speed up your drowning with boots to drag you down......man i love the stirling castle wreck, i wooulldd looovvee to see drawings of what they think the prototype wheel on her looked like....*cough...if anyone has one...*cough......

Few people swam for sport and many sailors felt that being able to swim would just prolong the time it took them to die if they fell overboard. It was unlikely that a sailing ship could turn back or even stop in time to recover a lost sailor.

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I vote Foxe for Senior Class President!

I have said my peace on this before, so I won't go into much detail

However

Everyone needs to seriously take a look at GAoP bucket boots.

Here are some from early 1700

d5294261l.jpg

And another pair

d1854112r.jpg

French, same period

1700militaryboots.JPG

From Nicole Kipar's AWESOME 17th Century Site... where you will find more pics and great info

marlburian-boots_denmark2.jpg

17th Century Boots

1600s5.jpg

My Point

People use the fact that "boots were worn during the GAoP" to justify ANY BOOT they feel is "Piratey"

If you are just goofing off with a pirate kit, fine. If you want to tell people that you are accurately portraying someone from the 1680-1725 time frame, at least get the boots right.

Historically accurate GAOP riding boots cost a small fortune now, just like they cost a small fortune in the GAOP

To get some now, that is ACCURATE riding boots, you'd need to spend $500-$1000 depending on who is making them

So if you must, get Sara Juniper's 17th Century Riding Boots $972

18c25.jpg

Most folks, at best, have a late 18th century "riding boot" simpler to make and cheaper... but wrong for GAOP... or at worst:

pirate-boots-header.jpg

Edited by Gentleman of Fortune

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A few things to remember about the Vasa - it was a warship, not a pirate ship. Not everyone on it was a sailor.

The same can also be said of HMS Stirling Castle. The main point I want to make though is that I'm not convinced that during the GAoP there was anything much to tell between the appearance of seafarers on a warship and seafarers on a priate ship.

The officers would have dressed in the height of fashion which did include bucket top boots which were in fashion at the time. They were out of fashion by the GAoP.

And THAT is pretty much the main argument for pirates not wearing 'em. They weren't practical, they weren't fashionable, so why would they?

Bucket top boots are really thigh-high boots that have been folded down and back up. When you were riding you would pull them all the way up and they acted like chaps, protecting the leg and pants. When on foot, you would fold them down to show off your fashionable breeches.

I suspect that the folding down had more to do with ease of walking than with the cut of one's breeches, but yes.

Few people swam for sport and many sailors felt that being able to swim would just prolong the time it took them to die if they fell overboard.

I'd like to see a period source for that. I suspect it may be a bit of reverse thinking myth. There is certainly evidence of sailors who could swim, and I don't believe many of them gave too much time over to thinking about the practicalities of being washed overboard.

This is not to say that the ability to swim was universal, or even that widespread, but I don't think that that was the reason.

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**cough "Pierce Cullen" cough*** ;)

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Ah, that's why, in my original reply, I put the word 'worn' in italics. Pierce Cullen's effects did indeed include boots and spurs, and a pair of 'riding spatterdashes'. They also included items of tack (but no horse) and women's clothing. We can surmise therefore that not everything he was in possession of was for his own seaborne use...

;)

(nb. I am not entirely prepared to rule out that Cullen was in fact a horse-riding transvestite, but in that case he probably ought not to be considered typical)

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Has anyone who insists on wearing bucket boots as a Pirate actually had the experience of doing real work on a ship in them, as opposed to a photo op?

Having a very limited experience climbing rigging, etc., and more experience riding, I can't see how they _wouldn't_ get in the way of working on a ship, and how they would be excellent for riding, particularly through places where the underbrush grabs you, like chaps (as someone else mentioned). Perhaps a fancy captain might own a pair, but if they were a fashion statement, why waste the leather (and money) exposing them to wear and salt spray at sea, where the crew really isn't going to be so impressed by how spiffy a dresser you are? Fancy boots would be saved for use where they would make the best impression on people you'd care about impressing, or where you needed them for riding.

Love the pics of extant boots, btw. The wear that shows how some of them were actually used for riding (toes up!) just makes the past so much closer.

Jen

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"I am not entirely prepared to rule out that Cullen was in fact a horse-riding transvestite, but in that case he probably ought not to be considered typical"

See that there folks? That, my friends, is comedy!

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well this does have me wondering...though not all to do with boots, just what the percentage of sailors who could not swim are....as well as period evidence of such.....TO MY PERIOD JOURNALS AAAWWWWAAAAYYYY!!!!........

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Who is actually this Pierce Cullen you mention? I googled and I didn't find anybody from the Age of Sail with this name!

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The drawing to myknowledge originally came to light on the pirate brethren. There are rumors that when they were doing the excavation of Port Royal they found hundreds of boots in the cobblers shop. The best "period" boot I have found so far that doen't cost too much is from Loyalist but I would be prepared to wait. I have not seen these in person.

boots2.jpg

boots.jpg

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a bit ago fox posted Mr. Cullen's inventoried possessions...after he had been arrested for....something probably relating to pyracy(his brother went on the lamb as well,some of his stuff is listed here also)....BUT...this inventory is helpful to us because it is indeed a listing of items owned by someone known to be a sailor/pyrate.......... the reason his name was brought up though...is because...as you can see...he has listed one pair of boots and spirs......BUT pay attention later because also listed riding spats and a pillion..which is a type of saddle...thus he had been riding...or was planning to

(reposted, from a thread by Mr.Fox)

Pierce Cullen wasn't yer classic Caribbean pirate, but he was a genuine pirate in 1722. His leather portmanteau contained:

"5 white shirts marked P.B.C.

1 white shirt marked C.

1 napkin marked C.A. 1714

1 napkin marked w.j.

1 white shirt

5 blew and white shirts

1 old frise coat

1 worsted damask wastcoat and serge damask breeches

1 pair of silk damask breeches

2 flannell wastcoats

2 bob wigs

1 pair of sleeved

1 pair of boots and spurs (Good Lord... here we go!)

4 plain cravat stocks

2 night caps

2 muslin cravats

1 pair of black silk stockings, 2 pair of white cotton stockings

1 pair of worsted stockings

1 towell

1 thread sack

1 blew and white bag

1 white Fustian wastcoate

1 old handkerchief

1 razor and hoand [sharpening stone?]

1[?] pair of blew and white riding spatterdashes

1 mail pillion

1 silk quilted stomacher"

When he heard of the arrest of Pierce Cullen, his brother Andrew fled his lodgings, leaving behind a "wallet" containing:

"1 Arithmetick Book signed Andrew Cullen

2 pair of breeches

2 flannell wastcoats

2 blew and white shirts

1 white shirt

6 plain cravat stocks

1 Turneover[?]

1 holland cravat

1/2 a yard of new holland

3 paire of yarn hose

1 paire of worsted hose

2 Wollen Caps

1 paire of shoes

2 blew and white baggs

2 Razers

1 knife and fork

1 Glove"

[HCA 1/17, f. 163] It comes from the records of the High Court of Admiralty (HCA) in the National Archives at Kew. HCA 1/17 is the records of indictments and subsequent proceedings filed at the High Court of Admiralty, 1713-1724. The lists come from f[olio] 163 of that file.

Edited by Bos'n Cross

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Pierce and Andrew Cullen were members of Peter Roche's pirate crew who operated in the waters around Europe for a short period in 1722. There is a chapter about Roche and co in Johnson's General History (which is freely available online).

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A few things to remember about the Vasa - it was a warship, not a pirate ship. Not everyone on it was a sailor.

The same can also be said of HMS Stirling Castle. The main point I want to make though is that I'm not convinced that during the GAoP there was anything much to tell between the appearance of seafarers on a warship and seafarers on a priate ship.

The officers would have dressed in the height of fashion which did include bucket top boots which were in fashion at the time. They were out of fashion by the GAoP.

And THAT is pretty much the main argument for pirates not wearing 'em. They weren't practical, they weren't fashionable, so why would they?

Bucket top boots are really thigh-high boots that have been folded down and back up. When you were riding you would pull them all the way up and they acted like chaps, protecting the leg and pants. When on foot, you would fold them down to show off your fashionable breeches.

I suspect that the folding down had more to do with ease of walking than with the cut of one's breeches, but yes.

Few people swam for sport and many sailors felt that being able to swim would just prolong the time it took them to die if they fell overboard.

I'd like to see a period source for that. I suspect it may be a bit of reverse thinking myth. There is certainly evidence of sailors who could swim, and I don't believe many of them gave too much time over to thinking about the practicalities of being washed overboard.

This is not to say that the ability to swim was universal, or even that widespread, but I don't think that that was the reason.

Here's a stub of an article from the New York Times talking about sailors who cannot swim. The full article failed to open for me.

When John White returned to Roanoke Island to pick up the lost colonists after two years, their long boat was overturned by heavy swells. This book on Roanoke describes the sailors as having to cling to the boat because they could not swim. The captain of the relief ship drowned in that mishap.

It isn't period but here is a quote from 1933 about most sailors not knowing how to swim.

So why don't sailors learn to swim? It is probably modern speculation that it prolongs the time needed to drown but it seems like there must be some reason. I can think of several good reasons for sailors to know how to swim.

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