This indenture witnesseth
that Joseph Webb by the consent of his father William Webb
of the parish of Beoley in the county of Worcester, Papermaker
doth put himself Apprentice to James Holyoake of the parish
of Tardebigge in the county of Worcester, papermaker.
And for the true Performance of all and every the said Covenants and Agreements either of the said Parties bindeth himself unto the other by these Presents In Witness whereof the Parties above named to these Indentures interchangeably have put their Hands and Seals the third Day of September in the Twenty fifth year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the third by the Grace of God of Great Britain France and Ireland King Defender of the Faith and in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty five.
N. B. The Indenture Covenant
or Contract must bear date the day it is executed and what Money
or other thing is given or Contracted forwith the Clerk or Apprentice
must be inserted in words at Length and the Duty paid to the
Stamp Office in London or within the weekly Bills of Mortality
within One Month after the Execution and if in the country and
out of the said Bills of Mortality within five months to a Distributor
of the Stamps or his substitute otherwise the Indenture will
be void the Master or Mistress forfeit fifty pounds and another
Penalty and the Apprentice be disabled to follow his trade or
be made free.
Documents held at Worcester Record Office show that in November 1796 a meeting was held at the Guildhall in Worcester to enact the requirements of the recently passed Act of Parliament for the raising of men and notices were subsequently published in Berrows Worcester Journal and The Worcester Herald to publicise this.
Each Hundred had to provide a list of houses and numbers of men of suitable age to be found there. Beoley lay within Upper Pershore Hundred and was noted to have 22 houses. Taken together with the village of Martin Hussingtree, which had 10 houses, a total of 7 men could be counted. Tardebigge and Redditch lay within Upper Halfshire Hundred. Redditch had 51 houses and Tardebigge / Webheath had 20, but this does not seem to have resulted in many suitable candidates. (The Hundred was a division of the shire, which was of great importance in Saxon and Norman times. There was a Hundred Court presided over by the Hundred Reeve acting on behalf of the King. Initially a Hundred literally meant a group of 100 houses, but later came to be a more general area within the shire)
Around that time a 74 canon ship would have cost £36,000 to build and on its capture the Admiralty would pay out £20,000. The Division of Spoils Act (1708) meant that the Crown renounced its claim to a share in the bounty and it could be divided into eight parts:
The Commander was entitled to one eighth (even if he had not been present at the time of capture).
The Captain in command at the time of the seizure of the vessel was entitled to three eighths.
The officers shared one eighth between them, and the lower officers likewise.
The crew (up to about 600 men) shared the remaining two eighths between them. This would mean that a crew member might receive just over £8, some half a year's pay for an Able Seaman (the equivalent of two years' pay for a ploughman). The captain would receive £7,500 from the above example.
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On a vessel such as HMS Victory (for example), life below decks was extremely cramped. The men (referred to as the People) hung their hammocks on the two lower gun decks, where the head-room was about five feet, but where smaller guns were fitted less than five feet was the norm. 14 inches was allowed for each hammock, but as they worked in two watches, with one always on duty, this was effectively 28 inches.
The guns mattered more than anything, and even the Admiral shared his tiny sleeping cabin with a 12-pounder. On a frigate, which was built for speed, there were no guns on the lower deck, giving much more living space.
The food was fairly standard no matter what the type of ship - ships biscuit, usually full of weevils, salt pork or beef and mushy peas. On some vessels, cattle were kept in the lower decks, to be slaughtered on a regular basis, but this must have led to a deterioration in the general conditions below decks. The sailor often ate off a square wooden platter, and this accounts for the origin of the phrase "a square meal", as does the expression "on the fiddle" - the fiddle was the rim of this platter, so if it was more than half full there had obviously been some underhand deal to enable someone to have more than their fair share.
A British frigate could carry a full six months' of provisions and this included a gallon of beer per day per man or the equivalent "grog" (half a pint of strong rum mixed with three parts of water). The beer ration was therefore eight pints and to be "one over the eight" meant that a man had illegally acquired part of another man's ration. Although the conditions seem harsh, it was no more than a farm labourer endured, and at least the sailor had three "square" meals a day, plenty of alcohol and companionship, and a warm place to sleep. Soldiers, (for example in Wellington's army), often had to march for days without food and sleep on the bare ground, even in winter, so the sailor may have had the better deal.