Swashbuckler 1700

Matchlock firearms in golden age of piracy

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Does anybody know were the Matchlock muskets/other firearms popular or even commonly used during Gaop (1690-1730)? Many sources say that they were replaced by the flintlocks in early 17th century onwards and practically disappeared by early 18th century? I know that many buccaneer musket even as early as the 1650s had flintlocks but was the matchlocks still used with flintlocks as late as Gaop at least they were around in large extent 1400-1680s or so..... but what about Gaop were there much Matchlocks around? I believe that only few were used. ;)

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I can't find it right now, but somewhere I have a picture of a matchlock from about 1720(ish)....

The flintlock mostly replaced the matchlock, but there were some people that hung onto older stuff because they were more comfortable with it....

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I can't find it right now, but somewhere I have a picture of a matchlock from about 1720(ish)....

The flintlock mostly replaced the matchlock, but there were some people that hung onto older stuff because they were more comfortable with it....

Isn't there always some who don't want use new stuff. there is still people who don't use modern electronics etc. :lol:

Edited by Swashbuckler 1700

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Matchlocks were used during the GAOP. It was this time period that the flintlock finally overtook the matchlock, though you would still find them. For instance, in 1707, the British made a large purchase of matchlocks from the Dutch. But, that was due to arms shortages from the War of Spanish Succession. While matchlocks were used in this war, this war was by far the war that put a end to the use of matchlocks in major wars.

The Spanish colonials had plenty of matchlocks. St. Augustine's Castillo de San Marcos struggled to keep what few flintlocks they could get, but for the longest time they had more matchlocks than flintlocks (the Spanish colonists were the farthest behind in the 'arms race' so to speak in the New World).

During the 1680s and 1690s, the Dutch even sold a transition piece between the Matchlock and flintlock. The gun had both the ability to fire as a flintlock and had a matchlock arm as well, on the same lockplate. Strange thing is, while the Dutch army never had these guns made for themselves, the Dutch did sell them to other countries like the Danish.

For sea service, the GAOP would have witnessed its share of matchlocks, but based on surviving evidence and surviving originals, it seems the maritimers had a pretty big preference for flintlocks, even more than land (at least that is what William Gilkerson concluded in Boarders Away II).

Edited by Brit.Privateer

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Matchlocks were used during the GAOP. It was this time period that the flintlock finally overtook the matchlock, though you would still find them. For instance, in 1707, the British made a large purchase of matchlocks from the Dutch. But, that was due to arms shortages from the War of Spanish Succession. While matchlocks were used in this war, this war was by far the war that put a end to the use of matchlocks in major wars.

The Spanish colonials had plenty of matchlocks. St. Augustine's Castillo de San Marcos struggled to keep what few flintlocks they could get, but for the longest time they had more matchlocks than flintlocks (the Spanish colonists were the farthest behind in the 'arms race' so to speak in the New World).

During the 80s and 90s, the Dutch even sold a transition piece between the Matchlock and flintlock. The gun had both the ability to fire as a flintlock and had a matchlock arm as well, on the same lockplate. Strange thing is, while the Dutch army never had these guns made for themselves, the Dutch did sell them to other countries like the Danish.

For sea service, the GAOP would have witnessed its share of matchlocks, but based on surviving evidence and surviving originals, it seems the maritimers had a pretty big preference for flintlocks, even more than land (at least that is what William Gilkerson concluded in Boarders Away II).

Thanks :D . So there were matchlocks but flintlocks started to be overbearing by this time....I think that you ment 1680s and 1690s when you said "During the 80s and 90s, the Dutch even sold a transition piece between the Matchlock and flintlock"?

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I've seen a few garrison lists from the early 1700s where Matchlocks are listed, but the listing made it seem as if they were "last resort" type stores. In my research, I have found requisitions from the colonies dated to the 1660s where officers (or what-not) are begging to have thier outdated matchlocks replaced by newer firelocks. The more I see the subject come up, with additional references added, the more I beleive it was a long slow transition between matchlock and flintlock.... But the bulk of the transition seems to have gone down between the 1650s and 1680s, with some holdouts that lasted an extra couple of decades.

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That was what I thought ;)

Edited by Swashbuckler 1700

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MB is dead on - One other reason I've heard for sailors moving toward flinters is it is one less source of fire on a wooden ship.

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MB is dead on - One other reason I've heard for sailors moving toward flinters is it is one less source of fire on a wooden ship.

well in cannons needed fuses still...

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[well in cannons needed fuses still...

Not to take things sideway, but cannon in the period did not use fuses. They were fired by what is called hotshotting- putting fine grained powder firectly into the vent.

On the original topic, the last matchlocks were not withdrawn from service in the British Army until 1711. That said, the matchlock is very much a military weapon, and civilians took to the firelock (flinlock, doglock, English lock, miquelet) long before the military. As early as the Mass Bay colony in the 1620's-1630's, colonists were recommended to acquire a firelock if at all possible,

Hawkyns

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[well in cannons needed fuses still...

Not to take things sideway, but cannon in the period did not use fuses. They were fired by what is called hotshotting- putting fine grained powder firectly into the vent.

On the original topic, the last matchlocks were not withdrawn from service in the British Army until 1711. That said, the matchlock is very much a military weapon, and civilians took to the firelock (flinlock, doglock, English lock, miquelet) long before the military. As early as the Mass Bay colony in the 1620's-1630's, colonists were recommended to acquire a firelock if at all possible,

Hawkyns

Thanks... Well bit of topic... but was it stick with match that was used to ignite powder in the cannon vent.

85757518.jpg

see there is match on the stick here

Below linstocks had fuse to ignite powder (see the pic above it is period pic and it has similar stick)

licod88b.jpg

Edited by Swashbuckler 1700

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You are correct, the linstock is a shaft, sometimes with a spearhead, that holds match for the purpose of lighting the powder in the vent of a cannon. That particular method of ignition lasted well into the 19th century, until the invention of the friction primer. Some naval cannon, in the late 18th century, and into the 19th, were equipped with flintlock mechanisms that fitted over the vent. This, however, was usually reserved for the larger cannon, 18 pounders and above. There was an additional method of firing in the 18th century, called a portfire, a mixture of powder, sulfur, and binders that was attached to a shorter staff. This burned with a much hotter coal, much faster, and looked similar to what we think of today as a road flare. Road flares are, in fact, used in some places to simulate the portfire. These were not used on ships, for the obvious reason of fire danger. I think the issue is that you are calling the match, 'fuse', which it is not. They did have fuses, which were similar in nature to the portfire, but smaller, and used for granadoes and mortar bombs.

Hawkyns

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You are correct, the linstock is a shaft, sometimes with a spearhead, that holds match for the purpose of lighting the powder in the vent of a cannon. That particular method of ignition lasted well into the 19th century, until the invention of the friction primer. Some naval cannon, in the late 18th century, and into the 19th, were equipped with flintlock mechanisms that fitted over the vent. This, however, was usually reserved for the larger cannon, 18 pounders and above. There was an additional method of firing in the 18th century, called a portfire, a mixture of powder, sulfur, and binders that was attached to a shorter staff. This burned with a much hotter coal, much faster, and looked similar to what we think of today as a road flare. Road flares are, in fact, used in some places to simulate the portfire. These were not used on ships, for the obvious reason of fire danger. I think the issue is that you are calling the match, 'fuse', which it is not. They did have fuses, which were similar in nature to the portfire, but smaller, and used for granadoes and mortar bombs.

Hawkyns

yep and if there were need for fuses why don't use one of them to musket... but I am certain of that that on ship flintlock was the best...

Edited by Swashbuckler 1700

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You are correct, the linstock is a shaft, sometimes with a spearhead, that holds match for the purpose of lighting the powder in the vent of a cannon. That particular method of ignition lasted well into the 19th century, until the invention of the friction primer. Some naval cannon, in the late 18th century, and into the 19th, were equipped with flintlock mechanisms that fitted over the vent. This, however, was usually reserved for the larger cannon, 18 pounders and above. There was an additional method of firing in the 18th century, called a portfire, a mixture of powder, sulfur, and binders that was attached to a shorter staff. This burned with a much hotter coal, much faster, and looked similar to what we think of today as a road flare. Road flares are, in fact, used in some places to simulate the portfire. These were not used on ships, for the obvious reason of fire danger. I think the issue is that you are calling the match, 'fuse', which it is not. They did have fuses, which were similar in nature to the portfire, but smaller, and used for granadoes and mortar bombs.

Hawkyns

Oh I forgot that match is different thing that fuse... :rolleyes:

Edited by Swashbuckler 1700

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Another consideration is the amount of rope (in the form of match) that a matchlock goes through. Figure a foot per hour (two feet if ou light both ends which was recomended) for any time that you might need to fire. Multiply that times the number of musketeers and you burn up a lot of rope. If you were on watch then you had to have your match burning the entire time or your gun was useless. In the military, battles were infrequent and you only needed enough match to last the battle. Garrisons in the outlands where active cobat was infrequent could also make their match last.

Matchlocks are a poor weapon for hunting. If you have the match cocked then you have to keep adjusting it constantly as it burns down. If it isn't cocked then you have a few seconds delay before you can fire. Also, the smell frightens the wildlife. Accordingly, colonists swapped out their matchlocks for flint pieces as soon as they could.

Different countries made the switch at different times. Because of match shortages, the Swedes changed to an ungainly type of snaphaunce in 1620. This has a cock in the form of a long "z" and a pan that has to be opened manually. Other countries changed later. The invention of the French Lock (what we think of as the modern flintlock) spend the process up quite a bit. I have counted pieces. My snaphaunce has twice as many pieces as most flintlocks. My Swedish Snaplock is comparable to a flintlock but, like I said, you have to open the pan manually. The lock is huge and most of the pieces are exposed to the weather.

A matchlock is less reliable in the rain. The same would be true for sea spray. Wet rope does not burn, even when soaked in saltpeter.

One final point - matchlocks can be a fire hazard. When they go off, the burning end of the match it sprayed out. I know of someone whose piece went off because of sparks from the person beside him. When I am firing a matchlock I make sure that my sleeve is thick enough that a spark will not burn through it. Even so, you can see dozens of tiny burns.

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Another consideration is the amount of rope (in the form of match) that a matchlock goes through. Figure a foot per hour (two feet if ou light both ends which was recomended) for any time that you might need to fire. Multiply that times the number of musketeers and you burn up a lot of rope. If you were on watch then you had to have your match burning the entire time or your gun was useless. In the military, battles were infrequent and you only needed enough match to last the battle. Garrisons in the outlands where active cobat was infrequent could also make their match last.

Matchlocks are a poor weapon for hunting. If you have the match cocked then you have to keep adjusting it constantly as it burns down. If it isn't cocked then you have a few seconds delay before you can fire. Also, the smell frightens the wildlife. Accordingly, colonists swapped out their matchlocks for flint pieces as soon as they could.

Different countries made the switch at different times. Because of match shortages, the Swedes changed to an ungainly type of snaphaunce in 1620. This has a cock in the form of a long "z" and a pan that has to be opened manually. Other countries changed later. The invention of the French Lock (what we think of as the modern flintlock) spend the process up quite a bit. I have counted pieces. My snaphaunce has twice as many pieces as most flintlocks. My Swedish Snaplock is comparable to a flintlock but, like I said, you have to open the pan manually. The lock is huge and most of the pieces are exposed to the weather.

A matchlock is less reliable in the rain. The same would be true for sea spray. Wet rope does not burn, even when soaked in saltpeter.

One final point - matchlocks can be a fire hazard. When they go off, the burning end of the match it sprayed out. I know of someone whose piece went off because of sparks from the person beside him. When I am firing a matchlock I make sure that my sleeve is thick enough that a spark will not burn through it. Even so, you can see dozens of tiny burns.

The matchlock is quite a interesting weapon in terms of it's place in firearms history. As MarkG points out, more dangerous than the flintlocks and pretty hard to use for hunting. But even with that consideration, what throws me are the European powers were throwing these to their colonies into the early parts of the 18th century. For instance, in 1705, the Governor of Virginia requested more firearms for their state armory since most of them went up in a fire. And what does the Ordnance department send them? Old matchlocks (which ticks of the colonists since by that point they were pretty used to flintlocks). (Ref: American Military Shoulder Arms, Vol 1) The worst offender was Spain by far. St. Augustine dealt with matchlocks for the longest times in their armory. It took forever for the number of firelocks of some sort to outnumber the matchlocks. In the 1680s, the wives of deceased soldiers in St. Augustine had to be stopped from continuing the tradition of taking the weapons of their passed on husbands and selling them to those on ships coming into port at St. Augustine, all because of how short weapons they were (and operational weapons). Even in 1698 when arms were sent to Pensacola, Florida, they sent 300 matchlocks to 100 flintlocks (and since the garisson of that town was too small for that many weapons at the time, there is the question of what purpose those guns were all for and if they actually got that many). (Ref: Firearms in Colonial America) It's no wonder the illegal trade of firearms from the Dutch and English to the Spanish was strong.

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Another consideration is the amount of rope (in the form of match) that a matchlock goes through. Figure a foot per hour (two feet if ou light both ends which was recomended) for any time that you might need to fire. Multiply that times the number of musketeers and you burn up a lot of rope. If you were on watch then you had to have your match burning the entire time or your gun was useless. In the military, battles were infrequent and you only needed enough match to last the battle. Garrisons in the outlands where active cobat was infrequent could also make their match last.

Matchlocks are a poor weapon for hunting. If you have the match cocked then you have to keep adjusting it constantly as it burns down. If it isn't cocked then you have a few seconds delay before you can fire. Also, the smell frightens the wildlife. Accordingly, colonists swapped out their matchlocks for flint pieces as soon as they could.

Different countries made the switch at different times. Because of match shortages, the Swedes changed to an ungainly type of snaphaunce in 1620. This has a cock in the form of a long "z" and a pan that has to be opened manually. Other countries changed later. The invention of the French Lock (what we think of as the modern flintlock) spend the process up quite a bit. I have counted pieces. My snaphaunce has twice as many pieces as most flintlocks. My Swedish Snaplock is comparable to a flintlock but, like I said, you have to open the pan manually. The lock is huge and most of the pieces are exposed to the weather.

A matchlock is less reliable in the rain. The same would be true for sea spray. Wet rope does not burn, even when soaked in saltpeter.

One final point - matchlocks can be a fire hazard. When they go off, the burning end of the match it sprayed out. I know of someone whose piece went off because of sparks from the person beside him. When I am firing a matchlock I make sure that my sleeve is thick enough that a spark will not burn through it. Even so, you can see dozens of tiny burns.

The matchlock is quite a interesting weapon in terms of it's place in firearms history. As MarkG points out, more dangerous than the flintlocks and pretty hard to use for hunting. But even with that consideration, what throws me are the European powers were throwing these to their colonies into the early parts of the 18th century. For instance, in 1705, the Governor of Virginia requested more firearms for their state armory since most of them went up in a fire. And what does the Ordnance department send them? Old matchlocks (which ticks of the colonists since by that point they were pretty used to flintlocks). (Ref: American Military Shoulder Arms, Vol 1) The worst offender was Spain by far. St. Augustine dealt with matchlocks for the longest times in their armory. It took forever for the number of firelocks of some sort to outnumber the matchlocks. In the 1680s, the wives of deceased soldiers in St. Augustine had to be stopped from continuing the tradition of taking the weapons of their passed on husbands and selling them to those on ships coming into port at St. Augustine, all because of how short weapons they were (and operational weapons). Even in 1698 when arms were sent to Pensacola, Florida, they sent 300 matchlocks to 100 flintlocks (and since the garisson of that town was too small for that many weapons at the time, there is the question of what purpose those guns were all for and if they actually got that many). (Ref: Firearms in Colonial America) It's no wonder the illegal trade of firearms from the Dutch and English to the Spanish was strong.

So to summary: Flintlocks were more popular but there were lots of old matchlocks, especially in colonies. Sailors and pirates would probaply favor flintlocks since they were more reliable in wet conditions aboard ship...

Edited by Swashbuckler 1700

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Correct.

Also, a lot of pirates carried pistols (and vice-versa) and matchlock pistols just don't work.

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