Naval Songs & Ballads - online book

3 Centuries Of Naval History In Shanties & Sea Songs With Lyrics & Notes

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habit of exacting money from merchants for con­voys, an act for which in 1689 the House of Commons committed Captain Churchill to the Tower.
As the war went on there were loud complaints of corruption in the victualling and shipbuilding departments, and the grievances of the seamen were set forth in pamphlets by Robert Crosfield, William Hodges, George St. Lo and other writers. Hodges published in 1695 Great Britain's Groans: or an account of the oppression, ruin, and destruction of the loyal Seamen of England, in the fatal loss of their pay, health, and lives, and dreadful ruin of their families. One grievance was impressment, a greater that men, once pressed, were kept at sea continuously, and not allowed any interval of liberty between their cruises. But their greatest grievances related to their pay : their wages were too long delayed; they were transferred from ship to ship without being paid ; they were obliged to sell the certificates for their wages at half-price to ticket-buyers, and so on. Besides this, they were badly fed and harshly treated. In the good old days, said a pamphleteer, ' they were not poisoned by bad provisions, pease bread, and stinking beef and pork.' Moreover, ' such men as General Blake, the Earl of Sandwich, Dean, Lawson, Bourne, Minns, etc. were familiar with their sailors, and instead of calling them damned dogs or sons of whores, called them brethren' {Remarks upon the Navy. In a Letter from a Sailor to a Member of the House of Com­mons, 1700, part ii. p. 14). These grievances found expression in a ballad called The Sea Martyrs, or the Seamen's Sad Lamentation of their faithful service, bad pay, and cruel usage, which the vigilant Pepys preserved, but forgot to date (see p. 140). The sailors punished were evidently