Waterbodies & Maritime => Vessels => Topic started by: Bilgerat on April 21, 2018, 20:12:15

Title: HMS Portland (1770 - 1817)
Post by: Bilgerat on April 21, 2018, 20:12:15
HMS Portland was a 50 gun, fourth rate ship of the line, built by the Royal Dockyard at Sheerness. She was the lead ship of a group of ten small ships of the line of which five were built in Kent shipyards.

Designed by Sir John Williams, Co-Surveyor of the Navy, their design was based on that of HMS Romney, designed by Williams' Co-Surveyor, Sir Thomas Slade and launched in 1762 from the Woolwich Royal Dockyard.

Of the other four Kent-built ships of the Portland Class, HMS Bristol and HMS Leopard were also built at the Sheerness Royal Dockyard, HMS Leander was built at the Chatham Royal Dockyard and HMS Isis was built under Navy Board contract by John Henniker at his Chatham shipyard.

See here for the stories of HMS Romney:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=18890 (http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=18890)

HMS Leopard:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=14896 (http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=14896)

HMS Isis:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=15494 (http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=15494)

HMS Bristol:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=16158 (http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=16158)

and HMS Leander:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=191757 (http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=191757)

Up until about the mid-1750s, the 50 gun fourth rate ship of the line was the smallest of the Royal Navy's ships of the line. From then, they were generally seen as being too small and weak to stand in a line of battle against the larger and more heavily armed French and Spanish ships of the line. They continued to be of use however, in the shallow waters of the North Sea and off North America and they were of particular use against the smaller and less heavily armed ships of the line operated by the Dutch Navy and for that reason, the Royal Navy continued to build and operate small numbers of them into the early 19th century. In the late 1790's however, a new type of warship appeared - the Heavy Frigate. These ships, mounting upwards of 40 guns with 24pdr long guns and heavy carronades both outsailed and outgunned the 50 gun ship of the line and by the end of the French Wars in 1815, they had largely disappeared from front line service in the Royal Navy. Those ships which avoided being broken up or converted into hulks continued in service in supporting roles, as troopships or storeships.

The order for what was to become HMS Portland was placed with the Sheerness Royal Dockyard on 18th of January 1766. Once the 1/48 scale drawings had been expanded to full size on the Mould Loft Floor and the moulds made, the first keel section was laid at Sheerness in January of 1767. Her construction at Sheerness was overseen by Mr Edward Hunt, the Master Shipwright. She was to be the only warship construction project overseen by him there before promotion took him to the position of Master Shipwright at the Portsmouth Royal Dockyard. He was to eventually be appointed Co-Surveyor of the Navy.

HMS Portland was launched with all due ceremony into the Swale on the 11th of April 1770 and following the launch, the ship was secured to a mooring buoy and fitted with her guns, masts, sails and rigging.

In September 1770, HMS Portland commissioned under Captain John Elliot while still fitting out and the ship was declared complete shortly afterward having cost a total of 21,021.1s.6d.

Captain John Elliot was a successful and distinguished naval officer who had come to fame in the Seven Years War (1756 - 1763) during his term in command of the 12pdr-armed 32-gun frigate HMS Aeolus. His previous appointment had been in command of HMS Bellona (74) while that ship was serving as Portsmouth Guardship. That had ended in 1765 and Captain Elliot had been laid off on half pay until he received his appointment for HMS Portland. John Elliot was a son of Sir Gilbert Elliot, the Second Baronet Elliot of Minto in the County of Roxburghshire in Scotland and the Lord Justice Clerk, or second-most senior judge in Scotland. His elder brother, also Sir Gilbert, the 3rd Baronet was a prominent politician and was appointed Treasurer of the Navy in 1770 in the Government of Lord North. His brother's considerable influence, along with his own undoubted skill, courage and record of success certainly helped Captain Elliot's career in the Royal Navy, particularly in gaining appointments in a time of relative peace.

On completion, HMS Portland was a ship of 1,044 tons, was 146ft long at the upper gundeck and 119ft 9in long at the keel. She was 40ft 6in wide across her beams, drew 10ft 6in of water at the bow and 15ft 7in at the rudder. On completion, she was armed with 22 x 24pdr long guns on her lower gundeck, 22 x 12pdr long guns on her upper gundeck with 2 x 6pdr long guns on her forecastle and 4 x 6pdr long guns on her quarterdeck. In addition to her main guns, she also carried about a dozen half-pounder swivel guns attached to her forecastle and quarterdeck handrails and in her fighting tops. She was manned by a crew of 350 officers, seamen, boys and Marines.

Portland Class Plans

Orlop and Lower Gundeck Plans:


Upper Gundeck, Forecastle and Quarterdeck Plans:


Inboard Profile and Plan:


Framing Plan:


Sheer Plan and Lines:


The Navy Board model of HMS Portland, starboard quarter view. These paintings, by Joseph Marshall, were amongst a number commissioned by King George III in 1773:


Starboard bow view:


Once Captain Elliot had been appointed to the ship, the Admiralty appointed his commissioned officers and the Navy Board the senior Warrant Officers, including the Standing Officers, those men who would remain with the ship whether she was in commission or not.  A 50-gun 4th rate ship would have four Lieutenants, ranked in order of seniority, 1st and 2nd etc. The Captain would appoint the more junior Warrant Officers from amongst those applying for positions and presenting their credentials while the local Commander-in-Chief would appoint the Midshipmen. In a 50-gun, Fourth Rate ship, the warrant officers would be as follows:

The Boatswain, assisted by two Boatswains Mates
The Gunner, assisted by a single Gunners Mate and thirteen Quarter Gunners
The Carpenter, assisted by a single Carpenters Mate and a crew of up to six Able Seamen
The Purser
The Sailmaker, assisted by a single Sailmakers Mate and a crew of two Able Seamen
The Armourer, assisted by a single Armourers Mate
The Caulker, assisted by a single Caulkers Mate and Able Seamen as and when required
The Cook
The Surgeon, assisted by two Assistant Surgeons
The Sailing Master, assisted by two Masters Mates and four Quartermasters, each with their own Mate.
The Schoolmaster
The Chaplain
The Clerk
The Ropemaker

A ship like HMS Portland would have ten Midshipmen appointed plus Midshipmen-in-Ordinary, depending on the Captain. Since the Midshipmen-in-Ordinary were filling positions on the ship's books as Captains Servants and a ship with a crew of 350 would entitle the Captain to have 12 servants, or four per hundred of her Company, their numbers depended on the number of actual servants the Captain required.

The rest of the ship's crew would consist of Petty Officers, such as Captains of parts of the ship, gun captains etc, plus Able and Ordinary Seamen, Landsmen and Boys, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Class depending on their levels of experience at sea. The ship's contingent of Marines would consist of two Lieutenants of Marines ranked in order of seniority like the Sea Officers, assisted by two Sergeants, two Corporals and a Drummer with 43 Privates and they would come aboard as a pre-existing unit.

Although the UK was enjoying a period of relative peace when HMS Portland was commissioned, storm clouds were gathering. Trouble had broken out in the American Colonies over what the colonists saw as unfair and illegal taxation, brought about by the Government's need to pay off the mountain of debt accrued during the Seven Years War, a conflict fought on an unprecedented scale and which for good reason, is regarded as the first real world war in the true sense of the phrase. By 1770, rioting had erupted in the main American cities, goods imported into the Colonies from the UK were being boycotted and British troops had occupied Boston. Of more immediate concern however, was the Falklands Crisis of 1770. This saw Britain and Spain mobilising their fleets and preparing for war in a territorial dispute over the Falkland Islands.

In June of 1770, the Spanish Governor of Buenos Aries sent five frigates and 1,400 Marines to the Falkland Islands and these quickly overwhelmed the small British garrison and sent them back to the UK. News reached London a few weeks later and when Parliament assembled in November of 1770, MPs demanded that Lord North's Government do something about this deliberate insult to the nations honour. The Government ordered that the fleet be mobilised and a tit-for-tat exchange of threat and counter-threat followed. King Charles III of Spain asked his cousin King Louis XV of France for help, but the French king had bigger problems. His country was bankrupt after the Seven Years War and the last thing he needed was an expensive and prolonged war against the British over a useless speck of land on the other side of the world that nobody had ever heard of.

On the 9th of January 1771, amidst the growing crisis, HMS Portland sailed to meet an incoming convoy of ships of the Honourable East India Company and escort them back to the UK in case war should be declared and they became targets for French and Spanish naval units and privateers. Amongst the ships of the convoy which HMS Portland met at Saint Helena was HMS Endeavour, on her way back to the UK after her epic first voyage of exploration in the Great South Sea under Captain James Cook. Unfortunately, the heavy and slow collier-built HMS Endeavour was unable to keep up with the convoy and was left behind soon after the convoy crossed the equator. Before the ship was left behind however, Captain Cook ensured that HMS Portland carried his journals of the voyage back to the UK, should anything untoward happen to HMS Endeavour.

On the 22nd of January 1771, Spain backed down. Unable to pursuade the French to support him, King Charles III knew that he would be unable to defeat the might of the Royal Navy on his own. In an attempt to save face, the Spanish Government laid the blame for the invasion of the Falkland Islands squarely on the shoulders of the Governor of Buenos Aries and disavowed him. The British accepted the Spanish offer of returning the Falklands to Britain and the crisis ended peacefully. Although war had been averted this time, the actions of the King of France led the Government of Lord North to believe that France didn't dare intervene in British colonial affairs.

In the meantime, in October of 1772, HMS Portland paid off at Plymouth and recommissioned again in January of 1773 under Captain Andrew Barkley. He took the ship to Jamaica, where she became flagship to Vice-Admiral Sir George Brydges Rodney, Commander-in-Chief in the Leeward Islands. When Vice-Admiral Rodney moved to HMS Portland from his previous flagship, the 80-gun three-decker HMS Princess Amelia, Captain Barkley also swapped ships with Captain Samuel Marshall, previously also of HMS Princess Amelia. Captain Barkley brought HMS Princess Amelia back to Portsmouth and paid her off into the Portsmouth Ordinary.

See here for the full story of HMS Princess Amelia:
http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=15170.msg124208#msg124208 (http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=15170.msg124208#msg124208)

By September of 1774, HMS Portland had returned once more to Sheerness, where she again paid off and Captain Marshall and Vice-Admiral Rodney left the ship. On the 23rd of January 1775 the ship again recommissioned, this time under the Jersey-born Captain Thomas Dumaresq and as flagship to Vice-Admiral James Young and she departed Sheerness bound for the Caribbean, where Vice-Admiral Young was to take up Rodney's old job as Commander-in-Chief of the Leeward Islands Station.

While the ship was in the Caribbean, the trouble in America escalated into an open, armed rebellion. The first shots in what was to become the American War of Independence were fired on the 19th of April 1775 at the Battle of Lexington, which had seen the part-time militiamen of Massachusetts drive off regular troops of the British Army and harrass them all the way back to Boston. By the summer, Boston was under seige by the newly-formed Continental Army. The men of HMS Portland quickly found themselves and their ship enforcing blockades of rebel-held ports and hunting down Colonial blockade-runners and privateers operating the entire length of the eastern seaboard, from Newfoundland to the Caribbean. In the meantime, during March of 1776, the British evacuated Boston.

While the war was raging on the mainland, HMS Portland and her crew carried on with the business of enforcing the on-going blockade and on the 18th of October 1776, the ship captured the New Hampshire State Navy brig Putnam of 12 guns. Things continued in this vein as the war ashore developed into a stalemate. Things took a dramatic turn for the worse for the British in North America when, after rebel victories in two battles at Saratoga on September the 19th and October the 7th 1777, the French entered into negotiations with the rebels. They had been secretly supplying the rebels with arms and money since 1775 anyway and the negotiations were concluded by the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, signed on the 6th of February 1778. In addition to committing the Americans to seeking nothing less than total independence from Great Britain, the Treaty formally recognised the United States of America as an independent sovereign nation. In the Treaty, the French offered open, unlimited military and financial assistance to the Americans. The die was now cast and on March the 17th 1778, Britain declared war on France.

While the world appeared to be falling apart, HMS Portland and her men carried on as before and on the 16th of May 1778, captured the American privateer Eagle. Shortly afterward, HMS Portland returned to the UK, paid off and entered the Royal Dockyard at Woolwich for a long overdue refit.

The refit saw HMS Portland's armament increased, with the addition of carronades, now entering general service in the Royal Navy. In addition to her original guns, HMS Portland was fitted with a pair of 24pdr carronades on her forecastle with a further pair on her quarterdeck. In addition, her poop deck handrails were removed and replaced with barricades, behind which were fitted six 12pdr carronades. While the ship was in the Dockyard, her lower hull was sheathed in copper for the first time.

The refit completed, HMS Portland recommissioned at Woolwich in March of 1779 with Captain Anthony Hunt appointed in command. He had first passed his examination for Lieutenant on the 2nd of April 1757 and had been appointed as Master and Commander in the 14-gun brig-sloop HMS Tamar on the 16th of October 1767. In the early spring of 1770, he had been the senior naval officer present in the Falkland Islands when Spanish forces had turned up depanding the islands be surrendered. He had first been Posted, or promoted to Captain with effect from the 10th of January 1771. HMS Portland was recommissioned as flagship of Rear-Admiral Richard Edwards, Commander-in-Chief of the Newfoundland Station and the ship departed Woolwich bound for there on the 11th of June 1779, after she had completed taking on her new crew, stores and being fitted with her masts, sails, rigging and guns, including the new carronades.

In the meantime, on the 12th of April 1779, Spain signed the Treaty of Aranjuez with the French, in which Spain offered military assistance to France in the war against Great Britain in exchange for French assistance in regaining possessions lost in previous wars, such as Gibraltar and Minorca. Tensions were also rising between Great Britain and the Netherlands, who had been close allies since the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Relations between those nations had been strained by the Dutch remaining firmly neutral in the Seven Years War and refusing British requests for assistance in the fight against the Americans. Dutch merchants had inflamed the situation by facilitating trade between the Americans and the French, where American goods were shipped to France via the entrepot on the Dutch-held island of St. Eustacius and French-made arms and ammunition as well as money flowed the other way. The British had known about this and had begun to stop and inspect Dutch merchant ships looking for war materials. This action had outraged influential Dutch merchants who had demanded that their ships travel in convoy, escorted by Dutch warships to prevent the British from stopping them and seizing cargoes considered contraband.

By December 1779, HMS Portland was laying off St. Helens, Isle of Wight after having escorted a convoy across the Atlantic from Newfoundland. On the 27th of December 1779, the first Dutch convoy of 17 merchantmen left Texel bound to the Mediterranean. The convoy was escorted by a squadron of warships consisting of the Princes Royal Fredrika Sophia Maria (flagship, 54), Zweiten (44), Argo (40), Valk and Alarm (both of 26 guns), commanded by Rear-Admiral Count Lodewijk van Bylandt. On the 30th, the Dutch convoy was intercepted by a powerful British squadron under the command of Commodore Charles Fielding, flying his command broad pendant in the 90-gun Second rate ship of the line HMS Namur. In addition to HMS Namur and HMS Portland, Fielding's squadron also comprised the ex-French HMS Courageux, HMS Centaur, HMS Thunderer and HMS Valiant (all of 74 guns), HMS Emerald (12pdr, 32), HMS Seaford, HMS Camel (both 9pdr-armed, 20), the brig-sloop HMS Hawk (10) and the snow-rigged HMS Wolf of 8 guns. Fielding demanded that the Dutch ships stop and be boarded for for inspection, a demand which van Bylandt refused. In the negotiations which followed, Fielding informed the Dutch admiral that he would send boats to board and inspect the Dutch ships in the morning, as the light by this time was failing. The Dutch admiral replied that any boats sent by the British would be fired upon. During the night, twelve of the Dutch merchant ships made off, so that when the sun rose, Fielding saw there were now only five and decided that he would stop further escapes by ordering HMS Namur and two of the 74s to surround the Dutch. This move was blocked when the Dutch flagship and the Argo blocked their path, so HMS Namur put her launch into the water and sent it on its way to one of the Dutch merchantmen. The Dutch flagship fired twice across the boats bows, at which point HMS Namur and the two 74-gun ships each fired a full broadside at the Dutch. The Dutch warships returned fire ad then struck their colours in surrender. The British then searched the Dutch ships and finding contraband goods, arrested them and escorted them into Portsmouth, followed by the Dutch warships, whom Fielding had offered to let go. The Affair of Fielding and Bylandt caused a storm of protest in the Netherlands and was a major trigger behind the outbreak of war with the Dutch a year later.

The Affair of Fielding and Bylandt by Jacobus Buys:


HMS Portland sailed for Newfoundland on the 29th of May 1781, where she was to remain for the rest of the war.

The American War of Independence in North America was effectively ended by the British military disaster at Yorktown in September of 1781. In November, the news of this reached the UK and with the war already unpopular, the Government of Lord North lost a vote of no-confidence in Parliament and was replaced by a Whig-led coalition lead by the Marquess of Rockingham. The Whigs had been against the war in the first place and quickly sought to end it. In April 1782, HMS Portland's previous flag-officer Sir George Rodney inflicted a catastrophic defeat on the French in the Battle of the Saintes and this was the trigger for peace talks. With the war winding down HMS Portland returned to Portsmouth in April of 1783 and paid off into the Portsmouth Ordinary.

On being fitted for the Ordinary at Portsmouth, the ship was stripped of her guns and stores, her sails and all the running rigging were removed and her yards were stored below. The ship was placed under the command of the Master Attendant at Portsmouth and was manned by a skeleton crew comprised of her Standing Officers and their servants plus 14 Able Seamen.

HMS Portland remained in the Portsmouth Ordinary despite the outbreak of the French Revolutionary War in February of 1793. She remained in the Portsmouth Ordinary intil November of 1797, when she was taken into the Royal Dockyard and was converted into a prison hulk. This involved the building of a roof over her upper decks, the removal of her remaining masts, cutting ports for windows on her orlop and fitting out her gundecks with cells. The ship remained in use as a prison hulk until October of 1800, when she was again taken into the Royal Dockyard and converted to a slop-ship, used to store slop-clothing for the huge numbers of men coming into the receiving ships after having been taken by press-gangs and sent to the fleet under the Quota System. In this role, the ship was moored in the great fleet anchorage at Spithead.

On the 6th of January 1802, the Navy Board ordered that HMS Portland be converted again, this time to a convict ship, to house prisoners awaiting transportation to Australia. The work was completed in May of 1802, by which time the French Revolutionary War was over and the nation was enjoying the brief interlude known as the Peace of Amiens. On completion of the work, the ship was moved to Langstone Harbour on the other side of Portsea Island from Portsmouth Harbour. She was to remain there, housing convicts in appalling conditions where fully a third of them would die from Typhus, Cholera, Consumption (TB) and other preventable diseases, even in those days, before they could board the ships taking them to Australia.

Prison Hulks and Other Shipping by Clarkson Frederick Stanfield. Although not necessarily a picture of HMS Portland, this painting serves to illustrate what the ship would have looked like:


On the 9th of May 1817, HMS Portland was sold to Daniel List for 800 and was broken up.
Title: Re: HMS Portland (1770 - 1817)
Post by: conan on April 22, 2018, 22:08:57
Fascinating stuff as always Bilgerat, one question though, why would the list of warrant officers include a schoolmaster?
Title: Re: HMS Portland (1770 - 1817)
Post by: Bilgerat on April 23, 2018, 09:52:26
A good question Conan. The Schoolmaster drew his authority from his Warrant, issued by the Navy Board. Before the Navy Board would issue his Warrant however, the Schoolmaster would have to produce a Certificate from Trinity House, showing that he had been examined by them for his proficiency in the theory of navigation and the associated branches of mathematics. His role was to teach the Midshipmen-in-Ordinary the theory of navigation and associated mathematics, although the practical assessments would be carried out by the Masters Mates on behalf of the Sailing Master. He was also aboard the ship to teach the rest of the ships boys the basic three Rs. It was assumed that since the Midshipmen-in-Ordinary, also known as Quarterdeck Boys came from an educated middle or upper-class background, they would have received some basic education before they joined the ship and depending on the Schoolmaster's background, this may also continue under him in other subjects.

The Schoolmaster was not entitled to his own cabin, neither was he entitled to share the wardroom with the commissioned and most senior Warrant Officers.

He was paid at the same rate as a Midshipman, which varied depending on the rating of the ship, the bigger the ship, the higher the pay. In a Fourth-Rate ship like HMS Portland, the Schoolmaster was paid 2.4s.3d per lunar month (based on pay rates on 1st January 1807). He would also be paid his share of prize and head money at the same rate as a Midshipman. All rated ships had a Schoolmaster, although unrated vessels didn't have one.

As usual, if there are any more questions, don't hesitate to ask.
Title: Re: HMS Portland (1770 - 1817)
Post by: smiffy on April 23, 2018, 12:20:19
Would the Schoolmaster of a first rate ship have to be better qualified or connected in some way? Or would it be more pot luck dependent on when or where you applied for the job?

Also, being paid every lunar month is something I've not come across before - it would be interesting to know if this was common practice at the time or if it was in some way unique to the Royal Navy.
Title: Re: HMS Portland (1770 - 1817)
Post by: conan on April 23, 2018, 13:59:12
Thank you Bilgerat,I wonder what the boys on board thought of that,after working in the rigging ,hauling anchors,scrubbing decks ,etc.there spare time was taken up with lessons they were probably not very interested in.
Title: Re: HMS Portland (1770 - 1817)
Post by: Bilgerat on April 23, 2018, 14:41:27
The job of Schoolmaster in a ship was one of those which had to be applied for, rather than being a posting from the Navy Board. When a ship was commissioning, adverts would be printed and put up in places where people were likely to see them, such as taverns, on the Dockyard gates etc. Since appointments in First Rate ships were the best ones in terms of pay and prestige, the First Lieutenant of that ship would be aware that whoever they chose to employ would be under the gaze of a senior Admiral most of the time, so they would make sure that only the best applicants would be selected for any of the lesser Warrant Officer posts. Otherwise, for someone with a Schoolmaster's Warrant seeking employment, it would be a question of waiting for a ship to advertise the vacancy or using your connections (if you had any) in the Dockyard to let you know when a vacancy was coming up and taking what was available.

In time of war, somebody with experience as a Schoolmaster in the Royal Navy would have to be careful to keep their Warrant on them at all times when ashore or between appointments, in case they were picked up by a press gang.

The Royal Navy always paid by the lunar month. Pay by the lunar month is fairer because lunar months are all 28 days long. Just because pay was calculated by the lunar month didn't mean it was paid that way. For the seamen, payment was irregular and wages would be paid six months in arrears as a deterrent against desertion. In any case, the seamen would be paid when the ship paid off and the payments would be made by the Clerk of the Cheque at whatever Dockyard she paid off in. Even then, the payments would only be made after the Clerk of the Cheque was authorised by the Admiralty to do so after the ships Muster Books had been sent in for checking.

Payday was quite an event. According to "From the Lower Deck - The Navy 1700 - 1840" by Henry Baynham:

"In the early part of the day, the commissioners came on board bringing the money which is paid the ships crew, with the exception of six months pay which is the rule of the Government to hold back from each man. The mode of paying is, as the names are, by rotation on the books. Every man is called, is asked for his hat, which is returned to him with his wages in it and the amount chalked on the rim. There is perhaps not one in twenty who actually knows what he is going to receive, nor does the particular amount seem to be a matter of much concern".
Title: Re: HMS Portland (1770 - 1817)
Post by: Bilgerat on April 23, 2018, 14:52:53
Thank you Bilgerat,I wonder what the boys on board thought of that,after working in the rigging ,hauling anchors,scrubbing decks ,etc.there spare time was taken up with lessons they were probably not very interested in.

The Quarterdeck Boys were exempt from those duties, apart from being in a supervisory role. For the rest of the ships boys, attendance at these classes was not necessarily compulsory and was dependant on the Captain, but was advisable if one wanted to get anywhere in the Royal Navy. All Warrant Officers, regardless of trade or rank were required to be able to read and write and this was the only way a boy could receive a basic education for free. In civilian life, there was no such thing as a free education unless your parents applied to a charity or church, or the local Parish Council funded a school for working class or poor children.
Title: Re: HMS Portland (1770 - 1817)
Post by: smiffy on April 23, 2018, 16:52:51
The various amounts of money the commissioners were carrying must have been quite considerable. Although security would most certainly have been tight it must have been quite a temptation for any thief at the time. Do you know of any case where an attempt to steal this money was made? (What would have later been called a wages snatch). I would assume the penalty for even trying would have been severe, to say the least.
Title: Re: HMS Portland (1770 - 1817)
Post by: Bilgerat on April 23, 2018, 19:22:00
I would imagine that the money would have been under a heavy armed guard at all times until it reached the Dockyard and thence to the ship.

Robbery was one of over 200 offences punishable by death at the time, so yes, the penalties would have been very severe.

We have to be careful not to take this thread too far off-topic.....