"In 1759, at the age of nineteen, Mary Lacy donned a pair of men's breeches, adopted the name of William Chandler, and went to sea. Her autobiography (first published in 1773) chronicles her seafaring adventures and gives a fascinating insight into the hardships of ordinary sailors in the 18th-century Navy.... Destitution, betrayal and amorous encounters all play a part in this intriguing tale."--Dust jacket.
Generations of readers have enjoyed the adventures of Jim Hawkins, the young protagonist and narrator in Robert Louis Stevensons Treasure Island, but little is known of the real Jim Hawkins and the thousands of poor boys who went to sea in the eighteenth century to man the ships of the Royal Navy. This groundbreaking new work is a study of the origins, life and culture of the boys of the Georgian navy, not of the upper-class children training to become officers, but of the orphaned, delinquent or just plain adventurous youths whose prospects on land were bleak and miserable. Many had no adult at all taking care of them; others were failed apprentices; many were troublesome youths for whom communities could not provide so that the Navy represented a form of floating workhouse. Some, with restless and roving minds, like Defoes Robinson Crusoe, saw deep sea life as one of adventure, interspersed with raucous periods ashore drinking, singing and womanizing. The author explains how they were recruited; describes the distinctive subculture of the young sailor the dress, hair, tattoos and language and their life and training as servants of captains and officers. More than 5,000 boys were recruited during the Seven Years War alone and without them the Royal Navy could not have fought its wars. This is a fascinating tribute to a forgotten band of sailors.
Author: Suzanne J. Stark
Publisher: Naval Institute Press
Release Date: 2017-09-15
The wives and female guests of commissioned officers often went to sea in the sailing ships of the British Royal Navy in the 18th and 19th centuries, but there were other women on board as well, rarely mentioned in print. Suzanne Stark has written the story of the women who lived on the lower decks. She thoroughly investigates the custom of allowing prostitutes to live with the crews of warships in port. She provides some judicious answers to questions about what led so many women to such an appalling fate and why the Royal Navy unofficially condoned the practice. She also offers some revealing firsthand accounts of the wives of warrant officers and semen who spent years at sea living—and fighting—beside their men without pay or even food rations, and of the women in male disguise who actually served as seamen or marines. These women’s stories have long intrigued the public as the popularity of the often richly embellished accounts of their exploits has proved. Stark disentangles fact from myth and offers some well-founded explanations for such perplexing phenomena as the willingness of women to join the navy when most of the men had to be forced on board by press gangs. Now available in paperback, this lively history draws on primary sources and so gives an authentic view of life on board the ships of Britain’s old sailing navy and the social context of the period that served to limit roles open to lower-class women. The final chapter is devoted to the autobiography of one redoubtable seagoing woman: Mary Lacy, who served as a seaman in shipwright in the Royal Navy for twelve years.
Out of Print for over 200 Years, the original text of three of the most remarkable naval biographies ever written. We know that women served as sailors in the Royal Navy as early as 1650. Unfortunately, what little we know of these women is based largely on second- and third-hand accounts and deductions. In general, few seamen (and even fewer sea-women) knew how to write. As a result, there exists no first-hand, autobiographical, accounts-with three exceptions. Three women-three lady tars-left memoirs of their experiences serving as men in the Royal Navy. Hanna Snell (1723-1792) originally joined the army but deserted over a brutally unfair punishment to which she was subject. She then joined the marines and was wounded several times at the Battle of Pondicherry. Later she capitalized on the success of her autobiography by launching a stage career in which she would appear in her uniform doing military drills and singing patriotic songs. Mary Lacy (1740-1773+) ran away from home when she was 19, and became a carpenter's servant on several Royal Navy ships. After four years at sea she applied to be an apprentice shipwright. Seven years later, after dodging several brushes with discovery, she became the only known, fully credentialed, female shipwright of that era. Mary Ann Talbot (1778-1808) started her career in the army disguised as a boy servant to an officer. After he was killed at the siege of Valenciennes, she deserted and was pressed into the Royal Navy. There she served as a cabin boy, and fought at at the Battle of the Glorious First of June-where she almost lost her leg from wounds. Fireship Press is proud to make available-for the first time in one volume-the text of the original editions of all three of these astonishing autobiographies.