Oscar Henry

where did they keep their money?

16 posts in this topic

while at work this evening i started thinking about old style pocket books and wallets then the thought occurred to me, where did 18th century mariners keep their money?... was it in a pouch tied to their belt, or was it a cloth wallet of some sort, i tried looking for information but came up empty handed, what do yall think or know about this?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe the Gunnister man had a knit drawstring purse. Just a bag, really. A small knitted bag.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

many accounts of coins and jewels sewn into clothing seams and liners for safe keeping

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
:lol: You guys are just being silly. Everyone knows that Pyrates kept their money in large iron-bound chests conveniently buried on nearby beaches. :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is one of the most common ways that men and women alike carried money in the 17th and 18th centuries. These little knit coin purses were so common that the term 'cut purse' dates all the way back to the mid 14th century. Have knife, will profit.

1333153417_188cc79d39.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, new question, just where did they tie these purses off at? They would almost certainly be tucked into clothing somewhere.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We can eliminate around the neck,ankles,above the knee, harr even the ears. > *

So me thinks like any one would.. a hidden pocket,eerr around the Waist. Say Did they have Money belts back then >

actually on a more serious note...Eye dont think most had much money at all except some coins.. for

the Bartering system was more intact back then. Occasionally ..Eye use a Crown Royal bag with draw strings..

Edited by oderlesseye

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, new question, just where did they tie these purses off at? They would almost certainly be tucked into clothing somewhere.

Agreed.

As mentioned above, the term cutpurse dates back to the 14th century, a time of different fashions and habits.

As unearthed in another thread, the Gunnister man's purse was found inside his breeches, as in a pocket (http://pyracy.com/index.php?/topic/19078-tied-to-me-belt/?p=413414)

As to barter, I have my doubts as to how far any seaman fresh off ship would get without coin or scrip in the local tavern.

Have we any accounts with which to further illuminate the subject?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While not exactly what we think of as bartering, there are accounts of 'pawning' from the Golden Age forward. The profession of Pawnbroker has been around over 300 years, and there are mentions of sailors and Captains pawning goods before and after journeys abroad. Even ship owners and men of station would pawn goods to secure a crew or buy goods against a long journey. The idea is so common place that it carries over into nautical fictional.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We had a discussion on bartering a while back and I can't seem to find it. I know because I brought up the comments in Woodes Roger's book about the men trading all their clothing in a warm port for fruit and such and they wound up making those men clothing out of sail cloth when they got near the Horn. There were also some comments by Edward Barlow about how the Bo'sum (I think it was the Bo'sun) sold clothes to men for a high price on the ship, totting it up against their wages before making landfall and the men turned around and sold the clothes on land for far less than they paid just to get enough ready cash to buy drinks in town.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We had a discussion on bartering a while back and I can't seem to find it. I know because I brought up the comments in Woodes Roger's book about the men trading all their clothing in a warm port for fruit and such and they wound up making those men clothing out of sail cloth when they got near the Horn. There were also some comments by Edward Barlow about how the Bo'sum (I think it was the Bo'sun) sold clothes to men for a high price on the ship, totting it up against their wages before making landfall and the men turned around and sold the clothes on land for far less than they paid just to get enough ready cash to buy drinks in town.

Aye! This last is exactly what I meant, and what brings us back to the topic at hand: where did they keep their money?

Ill gotten gains must be made liquid somehow. So, first they are fenced for cash, and then the cash spent. As opposed to walking into the tavern with a bolt of silk and talking the publican into a trade, which I expect was far less common to have happened.

Now, don't get me wrong here: I am not disputing Eye. Aye! Barter was more common then than now. But, to come into a port town with your share of the spoils, what are you going to do? Haul the goods around with you from tavern to whorehouse to bed? Now then, where would you be keeping all that then? Not tied around your belt I reckon.

Aye! William! Pawnbroking is an old and venerated profession. And, aye, it is not the same as barter but more akin to to fencing goods, save that you stand a chance to redeem your goods. Aye! No doubt you'll be back in port with the money to redeem them in short time, a wee short time indeed.

Edited by Quartermaster James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually we have two topics here: Land practice and practice at sea. At sea I would imagine they would keep it in their sea chest if they had one. Or would they distrust their fellows so much that they carried it on their person at all times?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've read that the pirates kept the spoils in common chests and divided it when they made landfall or broke up their crew or in similar circumstance. (Except Blackbeard. He marooned half his crew so he could make the common chests a little less common.)

As for where they kept it, probably in their pockets, possibly in a coin purse, somewhere handy, possibly protected. (If I wear a coat over a waistcoat, I find the waistcoat pockets are somewhat protected. It's where I carry my coins.)

You've worn period garb; where would you put it?

Or do you mean saved funds? I don't have the impression that most pirates saved much money. (We thoroughly thrashed that dead horse in pirates the savers? Even the nearly impossible to convince to change his opinion Swashbuckler 1700 gave up on it. At least as of this posting, he had. ;) )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
"You've worn period garb; where would you put it?"

Sometimes the Answer stares ye in the face!

Glad you said that Mission .

Edited by oderlesseye

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven''t researched this much but I would imagine they would keep money in their chests at sea. Last thing you want is your purse to go falling into the ocean while your adjusting the rigging on the top gallants. I do think they were some what more trusting then but at the same time they had stricter rules for stealing as well. Seem's like I remember the pirate code punishment for stealing on board was punishable by marooning or being shot. They just didn't mess around. Also I know they had locks back then. Would they have kept there trunks locked up?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To answer the original question:

...where did 18th century mariners keep their money?

While there are other options, and they have already been discussed on this thread, here is another one for your consideration:

PROB 32/58/121

"A true and perfect Inventory of...John Matthews late of the Burrough of St Ives in the County of Cornwall Marriner deced..."

in the list of his possessions and their value, the first thing listed is:

"his Purse Girdle and wearing Apparell,15 shillings"

Date at the bottom of the document for when this was written is 2 July 1714

The emphasis in the quote above is mine.

As for obtaining money, barter, and trade - I can attest to period documents referring to pawn shops and sailors using them in several documents (as mentioned above). Even British Navy Lieutenants use the pawn shop. There was a huge market during this period for second hand clothing. This is how the lower class got their hands on nicer clothing (otherwise they couldn't afford it, and manufacturers of clothing/tailors had yet to start making large amounts of more basic and cheaper versions of popular fassions (though there are some attempts, printed cottons from India often playing a role)). Sailors are recorded selling their clothes to the point of being made part of their characature for the GAOP period. Why did they? Sometimes, they were stuck in a port and didn't have any other means of obtaining money for getting home. Other times, it was to get a drink down in Shadwell at the old drinking establishment. And other times, as referrenced by others already, it was to obtain things from natives in foreign lands, including food. But I feel like I'm getting off topic with the clothing discussion.

For obtaining money, it became harder as you got into colonies and marginal regions. Eventually, this is why colonies tried for paper script, but that is its own barrel of issues. Also, this is why non-British coinage was accepted in British colonies.

Also, as others pointed out, we have to specify the question here. Which one are we trying to answer:

>Where did common sailors keep their money on their person (this is the one I tried to answer)?

>Where did common sailors store their money for safe keeping?

>Where did pirates keep their money on their person?

>Where did pirates store their money for safe keeping? How did division of plunder influence this?

Hope something here helps you all in answering your question.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now