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Women on Ships

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Does any one else have that strange feeling of dejavue

:P

http://pyracy.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=884

Hate to keep dragging up these old threads for ye mates but this one has much of what we have covered and some info that has yet to be touched in this thread. It also has me making the "women had no choice argument" and being proven quite wrong(at least to my own satisfaction) by Foxe and Hawkyns (not much suprise there) Also Lady Seahawk I pointed out in one of my posts in the older thread that the Admiralty had declined to issue medals to women that had been at the battle of the Nile something that had apparently been quite openly discussed at the time and was wondering if this could be a mistelling of your Lady sailor receiving pay (I picked up this praticular bit of trivia from the History channel so I would be most intrested in anything you have from a solid source on the matter.)

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One thing that about the lasses in breeches. If'n they be go'n to sea as a participant and not as a passenger, it would make sense for her to be wear'n breeches and not a petticoat. Think about mov'n about the ship, climb'n the rigg'n etc. doing it in men's clothing would be safer and more comfortable. So, even if she didn't need to hide her identity, she would be in men's clothing more for convenience then anything else. B)

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I'm not quite sure I get what you're driving at B)

If a woman went to sea without having to disguise herself, as a "participant" as you put it, then what would she be doing climbing the rigging?

The evidence we've so far collected - with the exception of Grace O'Malley - of women openly at sea during the GAoP era has them far removed from the sailorly activities like climbing rigging.

Unless you've got some more evidence to add?

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Quote ..."The number of women who actually disguised themselves as men before going to sea seems small (so far we've got 3: Bonny, Read, and Lincken for the GAoP)"

Well, using a bit of logic here...in regard to Bonny and Reed...considering that when they were caught, they both pleaded their bellies...ie, they were verifiably pregnant it would seem that ummm, some bloke(s) (Calico most likely) at least knew they were female. B) Don't you think. So, was it they were hiding their identities from the crew? (ah, being the ship was tight quarters...being a twosie or threesie they may ALL have been very quiet B) in the thoes of passion. B) AH yep that could be B) uhhuh ) or from their victims? (so, that if'n when they were ready they could possibly merge back into society when they were ready. But, then testimony from some of the female victims cites that they could tell the two were female even in the men's clothing because fullness of their breasts. Tell me was the crew blind? ;) )or did they use men's clothing more for comfort.

Anyway, have a great day!!! B)

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Ah, got you. We're talking about Bonny and Read!

According to the testimony of two Frenchmen at their trial "when they saw any vessel, gave chase, or attacked, they wore men's clothes; and at other times, they wore women's clothes" (my italics)

Now, there are several possible reason for the change. Possibly they wore men's clothes in battle to protect their identities from their victims - but proclamations issued prior to their capture mention them by name so that is unlikely. Perhaps they changed clothes because men's clothes were more practical - this is quite likely, but it does then suggest that during the day to day running of the ship the women played little part.

If women were joining ships' crews disguised as men then we'd expect them to be in breeches, practicality or no. If women were joining ships' crews without disguising themselves, where's the evidence?

To be honest, I still don't quite get the point you're trying to make? B)

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No you don't have me there... B) ...HEY, them hiding their identities wasn't my quote.... B)B) and I think we have seen that Bonnie, Read and Lincken weren't the only three.

Now the question is did they wear women's clothing while on the ship or perhaps scouting out a village for a raid? And how about the story of the one that saved her lover by challenging one of the other pirates to a duel, distracting him by pulling open her shirt...and shooting him. Legend, perhaps, but most legends have a basis in fact. So how much fact vs legend is this story...that is a question.

OH, my point...my point is it is interesting to me. :) because, according to how they were dress could, IMHO, have implications as to how much a part of the crew a female would/could have been and in turn, how much they were accepted and how common it was.

As far as the idea of the number and names reported, well, I do be asking again a bit of logic...were the male scallywages we know of the only tars going on account? Of course not, there were hundred to thousands of them during the GoAP. So, just because we don't have names of females does not mean they weren't on board.

:) B) :)

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Okaaay, I think I'm beginning to understand...

I think we have seen that Bonnie, Read and Lincken weren't the only three

Actually, I think we have seen that they were the only three we've yet had presented here who were women aboard ships in an illegitimate way during the GAoP.

Now the question is did they wear women's clothing while on the ship or perhaps scouting out a village for a raid?

I must confess that I don't know about their dress when scouting out villages for raids (anyone know of any instances when Bonny and Read did raid villages?) but we do know what they wore on ship. During battle or the chase they wore mens clothes, at other times they wore women's clothes.

And how about the story of the one that saved her lover by challenging one of the other pirates to a duel, distracting him by pulling open her shirt...and shooting him. Legend, perhaps, but most legends have a basis in fact. So how much fact vs legend is this story...that is a question

I suspect the origin for this particular legend is this passage from Johnson's General History:

"...it happened that this young fellow had a quarrel with one of the pirates, and their ship then lying at anchor, near one of the islands, they appointed to go ashore and fight, according to the custom of the pirates. Mary Read, was to the last degree uneasy and anxious for the fate of her lover... she took a resolution of quarreling with this fellow herself, and having challenged him ashore, she appointed the time two hours sooner than that when he was to meet her lover, when she fought him at sword and pistol and killed him upon the spot."

No mention of bared breasts, which smack very much of a later addition. Incidentally the old "legends must come from somewhere" argument is balls IMHO. Legends must come from somewhere, but that needn't be history need it?

my point is it is interesting to me.  because, according to how they were dress could, IMHO, have implications as to how much a part of the crew a female would/could have been and in turn, how much they were accepted and how common it was.

That's an interesting point, and one worth exploring. Getting back to my earlier division of women at sea during the GAoP into 4 groups we can look at the roles played by each group in terms of being "crew" members.

For the first three categories ("Sea-women", "Lower-deck wives", "Officers' wives and passengers") we are fortunate to have a certain amount of information actually about them, and the consensus is that they didn't really play much of a part in the management of the ship. In times of emergency, such as in battle, they certainly helped out where they could, running ammunition about, helping with the wounded etc., but they don't really seem to have taken much of an active role in the day to day sailing of the ship. Unless evidence to the contrary appears it is reasonable to assume that these women dressed in their normal, female, attire.

For the fourth category ("Women in disguise") we can only look at the three examples we have. Bonny and Read we know only wore men's clothes during battle, so it is a not-unreasonable assumption that whatever work they did during other times it was not stuff which was too impeded by their female clothes. Catherine Lincken disguised herself full time and took her place as a male member of the crew - we can assume therefore that she did everything her male colleagues did. Other women who may have disguised themselves with more success were probably in the same boat as Catherine Lincken (no pun intended).

As far as the idea of the number and names reported, well, I do be asking again a bit of logic...were the male scallywages we know of the only tars going on account? Of course not, there were hundred to thousands of them during the GoAP. So, just because we don't have names of females does not mean they weren't on board.

I've offered nothing but logic and evidence B) We know the names of thousands of pirates, many more than you probably think, we know the names of tens (even hundreds) of thousands of other seamen. Of course, some of those names might well have been women who were successful at disguising their sex, but as we have already been over more than once, they were almost certainly of significantly smaller numbers during the GAoP than later periods, and we only have two proper examples from which to draw evidence and conclusions (hey, we could exercise our imaginations but that would fall into the category of "making stuff up").

Now here's some more logic for you. The reason we know of Bonny and Read, the reason they are so famous, is because they were so unique for their time. If there were lots of women running round in breeches aboard ships we'd know about them, and there certainly wouldn't be the fuss made over Bonny and Read by their contemporaries.

Earlier on you claimed (apparently as a joke) that we were going out of our way to disprove women on ships during the GAoP. I gotta be honest, it now feels like you're determined to prove large numbers of women running round being sailors during the period, and the evidence just doesn't support that. If you want to throw in some more relevant evidence then I'm sure everyone would be really pleased to see it (me most of all), but based on the evidence so far gathered there's plenty of evidence for women on board ships in female clothing in more passive roles (and active roles under special circumstances), and evidence for a small number of women taking more active roles and dressing as men. Now, we can speculate all we like if it'll make you feel better, but it ain't history.

B)

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quote "Now here's some more logic for you. The reason we know of Bonny and Read, the reason they are so famous, is because they were so unique for their time. If there were lots of women running round in breeches aboard ships we'd know about them, and there certainly wouldn't be the fuss made over Bonny and Read by their contemporaries."

Perhaps they are famous in the same way as Morgan, Calico and others are famous, because, they were successful in pyracy, and feared. I am not trying to prove that there were huge numbers, I am stating that they were more common then some would think and that is all.

Ok, I will probably be out of this conversation for a bit as I am sitting in here in HUGE AMOUNT OF PAIN. B) I just re-injured my dang back. So tis back to a prone position for me... at least for a while.

B)

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My point as well. I never meant that the ships were teeming with women disguised as men; I meant, as with many things, that there were more than were documented. I don't think there were lots of disguised women at sea during the GAOP or afterwards, with the additional hardship and stress of disguising oneself added to the hardships of being a sailor, but I think it's a safe bet that a number of women were able to pull it off and were successful - meaning we wouldn't have read about them being WOMEN at sea.

In the case of Mary Read, from the accounts I read, she went undetected at first. The man she challenged was apparently unaware she was a woman - that could have prompted the story of her baring her breasts at him after she had him down and close to death.

And in terms of my own experience being a woman who has done a number of jobs that were considered masculine, I can tell you that back in the day when I cleaned sewers and storm drains (using a Vactor - you've probably seen them: large trucks with tanks on the back and hoses on the tops) oftentimes, I was mistaken for a young man, even though I was 5'4" (163 cm) tall and weighed 110 lbs (50 kg). The fact that I wore a yellow rubberized jumper and coat which disguised my figure may have been a factor, but I think a lot of it was that people were just expecting me to be a man.

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:wub: well, without wishing to sound too dogmatic... Bonny and Read were hardly likely to be remembered simply for their success! Seriously though, the nature of their notoriety at the time makes it clear that the main point was that they were women. Calico Jack is probably only really well known because of his association with Bonny and Read... but that's a whole different thread.

OFF TOPIC BIT!! I too suffer from a really bad back at times (combination of a youthful sporting injury and adult crash between a van and my bicycle). I don't know if you get them in the US, or if they have the same name, but I have found that a Lifa vest just takes the edge off the pain. It doesn't cure it, but it makes me mobile on days when I couldn't otherwise walk.

Jill, I quite agree that there were probably a few women at sea during the GAoP whose disguise was good enough that they were never discovered. Had Mary Read quite while she was ahead, for example, we'd never have heard of her. For various reason though I do seriously believe that the number of them was considerably lower than in later periods.

I also believe most strongly that there were probably more women at sea legitimately as women during the period than is generally thought.

:)

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Just outside the GAoP, but close enough to be maybe relevantish, and certainly of interest in itself.

From the Ipswich Journal, May 21 1748.

Bristol May 14th.

Last Tuesday a remarkable discovery was made about one of his Majesty’s ship’s, The Prince Edward in Kingsroad, a person who went by the name of John Davidson having drank freely became passionately fond of his messmate which occasioned him to suspect something, having informed his officer and on due examination by the ship’s surgeon he was discovered to be of the female sex and confessed to having been three years in the Privateers Service in which she was so successful as to be entitled to £150 prize money.

As well as being an interesting piece on female tars it also gives us a bit of an insight into attitudes towards homosexuality amongst seamen of the time.

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Perhaps they are famous in the same way as Morgan, Calico and others are famous, because, they were successful in pyracy, and feared

Bonny, Read and Rackham were anything but successful. Quintessential two-bit crooks of their time, really. They are only of note today because Johnson wrote of their sensational capture & trial, which is far more noteworthy than their actual crimes.

John Davidson having drank freely became passionately fond of his messmate which occasioned him to suspect something,

The wording in this passage is a bit confusing, but I sort of took it to mean that the amorous sailor found himself wondering why the heck he was getting all hot and bothered over his messmate...and thinking that perhaps his *feelings* were telling him something that his eyes missed, he reported the matter to the surgeon who quickly discovered "hey he's a chick!"

I'd like to know what happened afterwards. Obviously she was immediately dismissed, but I bet she was pretty popular thereafter.

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It is a bit ambiguous isn't it. I took it to mean that John Davidson was the woman who, having drunk too much and forgotten herself, started making advances on an unnamed messmate, and the messmate reported the incident.

I guess it was the phrase "went by the name of..." that made me think that was, kinda implies that Davidson was the woman's alias.

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Going back to that great long list of women pirates posted earlier here (and originating, I believe, from Fren Canyon Press's website) I'm now in a position to add some information about Elizabeth Patrickson of 1634.

The good news is that unlike many of the women of the list she did genuinely exist and was tried for piracy, the bad news is that really calling her a pirate is a bit of a stretch.

"William Patrickson and Elizabetha his wife, in the Thames near the City Bridge did take one hundred pounds English money, and various goods; and upon Henrico Marten a Doctor of Law, did comit piracy, robbery, and murder, between the first and second hours on the 10th day of March 1634".

Robbing a vessel on the Thames might techincally be piracy, but it doesn't really place Mrs Patrickson at sea.

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And anyway, who on earth would want to wear breeches and look like a boy when you could wear fabulous girl clothes?!?! :rolleyes:

KassandMerrick.jpg

:blink: AMAZING WORK THERE, KASS!!!!

Just wanted you to know that...

Interesting thread about women upon ships. I must admit that I am not educated enough upon this subject to interject, but there have been several eye opening accounts listed here that make me want to dash to the library for further studies. I thank you all…

By the way...why is it that English women have the reputation of being lazy (or drunk) in this time period?!

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A quick note as regards "which clothes did they wear?"

Yes, admittedly, this is once again stealing notes in part from later periods [but my focus is admittedly on the 1812 period, with the Lafittes et al], but here is:

Whilst Grania "Grace" O'Malley may have been noted as famed for "shaving her head" and leading from the fore [even being once captured on a boarding action], those ladies aboard later, Naval vessels were more of a mixed bag:

Thanks to those aboard Victory at Trafalgar, there are a number of accounts of that ship and that battle. Not only do we know that several individuals were _born_ aboard those vessels during the battle [thus a strong acknowledgement of the Warrants' wives aboard ships], but we know for certain and by name of at least a couple of Warrant Officers' wives aboard Victory herself.

One, the wife of a Gunnery Officer, switched to men's slops during the battle of Trafalgar so as to act as Powder Monkey [and then as Loblolly Boy]. This suggests that (a) outside the battle she did _not_ wear slops, and that ( ;) during the battle, even though everyone knew she was a woman, she dressed and acted the part of a Ship's Boy.

No, this does not guarantee any such occurance during the Great Age of Piracy, but it does mean that those pirates active during the War of the American Revolt and the War of 1812, and the Napoleonic era, do have this to fall back on, should the ladies wish to dress the Boy's role...

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I thought this was interesting. It's from Barlow's Journal by Edward Barlow, edited by Basil Lubbock:

"[1666-7]...and the next day we [the Monk, commanded by Capt. Thomas Penrose, serving at this time as a BRN vessel in the second Anglo-Dutch War] came into Falmouth, for our commander, being a Cornishman, had the liberty to go in for two days to see some friends and to settle some things, for his wife being aboard along with him that winter [Emphasis mine] we went for 'Hamborow', she died on board of our ship when we lay in 'Grimesby' Road in the Humber, and was buried on shore at 'Grimesby' Church." (Barrow, p. 132-2)

Curious Note: I think Lubbock puts quotes around locations and names that he knows Barlow has misspelled, although I'm not entirely sure. If so, he misses some - Barrow refers to Sir Christopher Minns and Mines when it should be Myngs, around whose name there are no quotes. Still, he does this repeatedly for names I know are misspelled, so that's my guess. If anyone knows different, I'd love to hear about it. (Even more curiously, I know for a fact Lubbock has changed non-Name and Location spellings because he uses the original journal wording as the captions to reproduced drawings from Barlow's Journal. In those captions, it's just like all the other original documents from period - wild, irregular and phonetic to the extreme - yet the regular text of the book is not that way.

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Ah, now this is interesting. It alone may explain much. From Barlow's Journal again:

"[1669]And about four or five days afterward, we arrived in 'Tangere' Road, and coming to an anchor, we found a frigate there called the Princess, which had been at 'Lisborne', and they told us how one of the King's ships was burnt in the river of Chatham by accident; for the gunner lying on board and having his wife on board, and it being the same winter that we were in the Straits, and it being cold weather, they having in the cabin a chafing-dish of coals along with them to warm themselves by, and going to bed and leaving them (the coals) carelessly in the night, they took fire in the cabin and set the ship on fire, and so the ship called the Defiance was burnt, the King losing a good ship through the means of having women on board and to be pleased with what they want, they being such ----- evils, doing more harm than good wheresoever they come." [Note: I suspect the left out word was 'damned' although it's just a guess on my part. I have seen swear words left out of materials by reprinted editors in the late 19th and early 20th centuries before.] (Barlow, p. 171)

This sort of thing (if not this event alone) may well have led to the rumor that women were bad luck on ships. I know from John Keevil's book Medicine and the Navy 1200-1900: Volume II – 1640-1714 that the Navy was always short on money and the somewhat capricious loss of one of His Majesty's ships would not have pleased Him. Of such things rumors could well be made. It is interesting that even the gunner could bring his wife on board a BRN ship in 1669, though, isn't it?

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Yet another reference from Barlow, this one from a merchant ship going to the East Indies, the Expedition in 1670:

“…we had three med dead, and one that had a wife aboard, her husband dying the same night we came to anchor at the island.” (Barlow, p. 183)

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Always interesting whatis found apparently.

Aye, apparently, from my understanding, in the late 18th and early 19th... women were aboard even British Naval vessels. Maybe just one woman aboard but still.

I can see women traveling for sure. I don't see any reason why not at least. Considering ships were the only means of transportation from Europe to anywhere else in the world or vice versa.

I've heard of Conquistadoras, women disguising themselves not only for ship duties but for war and even just for the hell of it or criminal activities.

Granted though... They may have been a small minority. And granted, didn't last all that long on their tour of duty I'm sure.

But how believeable can some women be in portraying it properly? No matter what part of the era?

That is some awesome info there. Granted, no question at times of women on board (as a minority, known or unknown, depending upon the Articles of the ship would be my guess)... but sometimes would be interesting to know their dress. Some info I've come across made no mention of their attire. ;) And some would mention too little of what they did on board, too.

~Lady B

;)

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Well, they were allowed on board as nurses and laundresses until the BRN decided that was a bad plan.

“In 1703 nurses and laundresses were assigned to the British fleet and paid at the same rate as seamen. Recruited from seaport towns, these women often were the wives of sailors. However, women aboard the vessels caused discipline problems and were the source of much discontent and friction among the crew. Later they were replaced with male nurses, the reason for the policy change given by the navy being the predilection of the women for drink.” (Zachary B. Friedenberg, Medicine Under Sail, p. 25)

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This is interesting, coming from someone heavily involved in preparing medicine chests and young Surgeons for the East India merchant ships (and later the British Royal Navy itself) during much of the middle 17th century. He's explaining how to make laudenum.

"Hee that intendeth any part of this composition for women, must forbeare the muske and ambergrece, and use with it rather foure graines of good castroium, I meane in that one dose he intends to give the women; but in this I digresse from my scope of the Sea-practise, where women in long voyages are rare creatures." (John Woodall, The surgions mate, p. 230) [Emphasis mine.]

The voyage to the Caribbean was considered a long voyage, incidentally.

Edited by Raphael Misson

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Interesting that the BRN would accuse the women of having a "predilection to drink" considering what the average sailor drank during the period.

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This is just a guess but perhaps it was more acceptable for a man to drink than for a woman.

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