Message from discussion Revisiting -- Ship's Crew, 1748 - Full Muster Roll
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Tue, 08 May 2012 14:18:41 -0700 (PDT)
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From: Bob Melson <amia9...@mypacks.net>
Subject: Re: Revisiting -- Ship's Crew, 1748 - Full Muster Roll
Date: Tue, 08 May 2012 15:18:41 -0600
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Organization: Dept. of Paleocomputing, Whatsamatta U.
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On Tuesday 08 May 2012 14:08, Dexter Kenfield (dkenfi...@mindspring.com)
> Your suggestion of "Free Man" is intriguing. But it doesn't work here.
> The reference to "a Negro" is a parenthetical in the Name column (as are
> the "Indian" references), and he is a F.M. like everyone else.
> I'm wondering if indeed the ship might have been manned entirely by
> experienced seamen, hence foretopmen. That does seem very odd, but after
> all, this is New England we're talking about. No press gangs needed
> Or else there is some other meaning that no one has come up with so far.
I suspect this is the case. It's either something blindingly obvious or so
obscure only those intrigued by minutiae would "get it". As for me, I'm
out of ideas. Sorry.
Seasick Ol' Bob
> On 5/8/2012 12:57 PM, Bob Melson wrote:
>> On Tuesday 08 May 2012 13:38, Dexter Kenfield (dkenfi...@mindspring.com)
>>> I now have the full muster roll of the ship MASSACHUSETTS, Moses
>>> Bennet, captain, dated at Boston 18 September 1748. A scan is at:
>>> Very interesting, in view of previous suggestions that "F.M." might
>>> mean foretopman or a variant thereof, first mate, or landsman.
>>> There are 125 crewmen listed, including a few shown as servants in
>>> addition to their shipboard positions. I see (modernizing the
>>> Captain, Master, First Lieutenant, Second Lieutenant, Doctor, Chaplain,
>>> Pilot, Gunner, Coxswain, Boatswain, Steward, Carpenter, Armorer,
>>> Cooper, Mate, Cook, Doctor's Mate, Carpenter's Mate, Gunner's Mate, 2
>>> Quartermasters, 3 Bosun's Mates, 4 Midshipmen.......
>>> and no less than 97 F.M. Corrections appreciated if I've mis-counted.
>>> So much for the First Mate suggestion. No way.
>>> So much for the Landsman suggestion (which came from a military expert
>>> at the National Archives in London) - the term was used at the time,
>>> but that can't be it here. No way a warship would be manned almost
>>> entirely by inexperienced crew.
>>> One usage of "foretopman" suggests it is tied to a specific watch. Not
>>> here -- all of the seamen have that title or "quality." A watch should
>>> only have a portion of the crew.
>>> If it means "foretopman" at all, it could only be in the sense of being
>>> synonymous with "able seaman." But an entire crew of them???
>>> If that's it, it would suggest to me one of two things: either (a) it
>>> proves beyond doubt how easy it was to man a ship in 18th-Century New
>>> England with qualified sailors, or (b) this was perhaps the most
>>> over-qualified crew in the history of the navy. Not an ordinary seaman
>>> to be found.
>>> A couple of other interesting observations. Most of the servants were
>>> servants of other crew members -- but not all. Two were servants of
>>> Edward Tyng, a former captain of the MASSACHUSETTS. One was a servant
>>> of William Phips, perhaps a descendant of a 17th-Century Massachusetts
>>> There was one person whose single name I could not read - "a Negro,"
>>> near the bottom of page 1 -- who was a servant of M. Deering, not in
>>> the crew as far as I could see, and there were three Indians, none of
>>> them a servant. All of the F.M.s were paid the same amount, whether
>>> servants or not.
>>> Any further thoughts out there on "F.M."?
>> Given the last paragraph, listing "a Negro", the only thing I can think
>> is "Free Man". While that's definitely not a naval rating, it might be
>> used to indicate an individual's, ummmm, social status. Still, that's a
>> stretch and I propose it as a possibility only in the absence of
>> anything better.
>> Since this is a naval vessel, even if colonial, you'd expect the
>> "ratings" in the 4th para, which clearly include both the skilled
>> positions (Master, Quartermaster, Bosun's Mates, etc.) and the
>> leadership (Captain, First
>> Lieutenant and the rest). From what I've read, the Royal Navy had not
>> yet begun rating crewmen as landsmen, ordinary and able seamen - that
>> was to come somewhat later - and I'd imagine a colonial naval force
>> would follow
>> the same pattern. That said, however, I have nothing to suggest beyond
>> my comment above.
>> Seaworthy Ol' Bob
Robert G. Melson | Rio Grande MicroSolutions | El Paso, Texas
The greatest tyrannies are always perpetrated
in the name of the noblest causes -- Thomas Paine