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"Boy Sailors During the Age of Nelson and Napoleon " Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP02 Dec 2017 1:02 p.m. PST

"Anyone who has thrilled to the dramas of naval derring-do such as Horatio Hornblower or Master and Commander will have observed that on the British ships of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, there were a great many boys--often as young as 12--serving aboard His Majesty's Ships

Indeed, it had been a 12 year old boy who had saved the day and the general (in this case, Sir Francis Drake) back in 1578 after a fracas with natives near the Island of Mocha. So boys, working their way up the ladder, as it were, proved a common feature of the English navy from its beginnings. And they were called 'Younkers'.

The eighteenth century saw a great rise in charitable institutions which were often founded to enable the poorest of London poor to climb out of the gutter and provide for themselves in a legitimate trade. In 1756, The Marine Society was just one of these ventures--others included the Foundling Hospital and the Royal Hospital School. At the first meeting of the founders, held at the King's Arms Tavern in Cornhill, they met to approve "A Plan of the Society for contributing towards a supply of Two or Three thousand Mariners for the Navy…"
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14Bore02 Dec 2017 1:14 p.m. PST

Americans had them also in the age of sail

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP03 Dec 2017 2:53 p.m. PST

I suppose that all the Navies of that Era have them…

Or not?…


mghFond03 Dec 2017 11:25 p.m. PST

The French did, I recall reading about it.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member04 Dec 2017 4:44 a.m. PST

There's a famous poem, by Felicity Hemans, "The boy stood on the burning deck" about the juvenile son of a French officer aboard "L'Orient".

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