Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The truth about the Greenwich Pensioners: New source shines light on sailors' lives

Date:
November 12, 2013
Source:
University of Greenwich
Summary:
The lives of 18th century naval pensioners in the Greenwich Hospital hold several surprises, according to new research carried out at the university.

The lives of 18th century naval pensioners in the Greenwich Hospital hold several surprises, according to new research carried out at the university.

Using the Greenwich Hospital records for the first time, Dr Martin Wilcox, of the university's Greenwich Maritime Institute, found that the sailors admitted provided a colourful image of naval life, and were often far removed from the image of pensioners held today.

Opening in the early 18th century, the Greenwich site housed roughly nearly 3000 sailors by 1815, with the majority coming from London. It played a vital role in supporting those unable to remain at sea, often through injury rather than age. Although the average pensioner entered at 56, they ranged from aged 12 to 99. Many of the younger men had lost limbs or been blinded; however, a significant number of pensioners returned to sea, often as ships' cooks (cartoons of the time portray the cooks as having a wooden leg).

The accommodation at the Hospital, if basic, was usually far better than the sailor might expect elsewhere. However, the site had its problems. With no families allowed to live in, and some of the men frustrated at being unable to work, bad behaviour broke out, as shown in the list of petitions the records hold. One pensioner was expelled from the site after fathering nine illegitimate children in Greenwich. Another was arrested for stealing the Hospital's clothes, while even the staff had problems; one nurse was expelled for infecting several men on the site with venereal disease. Complaints from the town about drunkenness in the pensioners were common.

"They could be quite a rough bunch," says Dr Wilcox, who used the Hospital's original records to build up pictures of 'the men who manned the wooden walls'. "But in fact not much is known about sailors' lives in this period. The Hospital records are a uniquely rich resource that really shows what life was like for them. It's surprising nobody's used them before."

The Hospital site today forms the university's Greenwich Campus.

Dr Wilcox used the records to build up pictures of individual sailors' origins, family lives, careers and reasons for entering the Hospital. His research paper on the records, 'The "Poor Decayed Seamen" of Greenwich Hospital, 1705-1763', is published in the International Journal of Maritime History. He has also co-authored the book Sustaining the Fleet, 1793-1815, about the Navy and food, and is currently researching the British fishing industry.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Greenwich. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Wilcox, Martin. The ‘Poor Decayed Seamen’ of Greenwich Hospital, 1705-1763. International Journal of Maritime History, 2013

Cite This Page:

University of Greenwich. "The truth about the Greenwich Pensioners: New source shines light on sailors' lives." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131112123739.htm>.
University of Greenwich. (2013, November 12). The truth about the Greenwich Pensioners: New source shines light on sailors' lives. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131112123739.htm
University of Greenwich. "The truth about the Greenwich Pensioners: New source shines light on sailors' lives." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131112123739.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Did ISIS Destroy Jonah's Tomb?

Did ISIS Destroy Jonah's Tomb?

Newsy (July 25, 2014) Unverified footage posted to YouTube purportedly shows ISIS militants destroying a shrine widely believed to be the tomb of the prophet Jonah. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Richard III's Car Park Burial Site Opens to Public

Richard III's Car Park Burial Site Opens to Public

AFP (July 25, 2014) Visitors will be able to look down from a glass walkway on the grave of King Richard III when a new centre opens in the English cathedral city of Leicester, where the infamous hunchback was found under a car park in 2012. Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins