ROYAL TARS

The Lower Deck of the Royal Navy, 875-1850
If you are a member, log in to receive member pricing
Binding:Hardback
Published:January 15, 2011
by Brian Lavery (Author)

Brian Lavery, the pre-eminent historian of the Royal Navy, turns his astute and wide-ranging analytical eye on to its 'lower deck' - the world of the seamen as distinct from the officers of the 'quarterdeck'. If not totally overlooked in the grand narratives of the Senior Service the lower deck is often only noticed when it is a problem. Seamen are difficult to recruit, sometimes they mutiny on board ship, they are liable to drunkenness and venereal disease, they tend to desert or behave in a feckless manner. For the first time in a dedicated volume The Royal Tars of Old England presents the authentic voice, life and social history of the lower deck - how, in the confines of a fighting ship, the men asserted their independence of authority and, as part of this, established a vivid culture with its own values, language and rituals. The volume conveys the character of the seaman, from the early medieval navy through to the post-Trafalgar long peace, his attitudes to those above him and the navy's regulations, and the experience of battle as seen from the gun deck or the fighting top.

X
List Price: $37.95
Clear The Decks Price*:$37.95
Member Price: $7.59
 
 
 
Product Details
  • Subject: Royal Navy
  • Hardback : 416 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (January 15, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 1591147433
  • ISBN-13: 9781591147435
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 X 9.5 in
  • Shipping Weight: 30.08 oz

Brian Lavery is the guest curator of the exhibition Victory 250 at Chatham Historic Dockyard. He has written more than thirty books on maritime history including the highly successful Nelson’s Navy and Empire of the Seas.

More by this Author

ARMING AND FITTING OF ENGLISH SHIPS OF WAR, 1600-1815
From the beginning of the sailing warships' supremacy to the advent of steam, this...Read More
NELSON'S NAVY
First published in 1990, this encyclopedic yet highly readable work gives an indepth description of...Read More
NELSON AND THE NILE
The Battle of the Nile, fought on 1 August 1798, was Nelson's first great victory and dealt a fatal...Read More
JACK AUBREY COMMANDS
Foreword by Peter Weir The twenty books in the Patrick O'Brian canon featuring the lives and...Read More

Related Content

None found for this author.

Events and Conferences

Guest Lecturer & Book Signing
6:00pm, "OpSail 2012 Virginia 1812 Bicentennial Speakers Series," Kaufmann Theater,... Read More

Customer Reviews

1 Review
(0)
(1)
(0)
(0)
(0)
Average Customer Reviews
4.00 Stars
Altogether a most interesting and readable book.
Monday, January 2, 2012
By: CDR fraser McKee

Until this volume by the Curator Emeritus of the National Maritime Museum appeared, the best, or at least most readable to the general naval public, of general social histories of the Royal Navy were Professor Michael Lewis’s 1960 A Social History of the Navy 1793-1815 and his 1948 The Navy of Britain (both Allen & Unwin).  With this volume Brian Lavery not only expands on the time period, but makes greater use of actual quotations he has unearthed from a multitude of archives.  And of even more value are, oddly, his initial “Contents” pages.  For both here and throughout the text itself, he has not only his eight chapters and a “Conclusion” but titled sub-sections that make the whole an easily used reference text.  Such as, under “2. Civil War and Dutch Wars, 1642 to 1689” appear “”The Seaman and Parliament,” “The Civil War,” “The New Navy,” “Edward Barlow,” “Marines,” “Guns and Gunnery,” “Why did the Seamen Hate the Navy,” and so forth - 21 sub-sections in this chapter alone.  The other chapters are “1. The Early Seaman,”  “3. European War, 1689 to 1739,”  “4. Imperial War,”  “5. The Crisis, 1783 to 1803,”  “6. A Large Fleet in a Long War, 1803 to 1815,”  and finally “7. The Long Peace, 1815 to 1850.” 

    Wherever possible Lavery has used quoted letters, pamphlets or even subsequent broadsheets and memoirs to make and illustrate his points. Most of them do not come from seamen directly, who presumably only occasionally could read and write, although many do,  but from chaplains, officers of all ranks from Midshipmen to Admirals, and even civilians writing on naval conditions.  An example: “Henry Teonge, a naval chaplain, provides a vivid picture of life on board.... ‘You would have wondered to see here a man and a woman creep into a hammock, the woman’s legs to the hams hanging over the side..... half drunk or half asleep.’ ” This from the 1670’s.  Or by Lieutenant Edward Brenton in 1797 during the pay and conditions crisis: “On board the Agamemnon little suspicion was entertained of an intention to mutiny till the people had dined, when they were called by the boatswain’s mate, but none appearing, a petty officer came, and gave information that the ship’s company had retreated to the fore part of the lower deck and refused to come up.”  {Shades of the RCN some 150 years later!  It takes a while for lessons to sink in!}

     The illustrations are taken from a multitude of sources, 19 of them in colour, illustrating ship layouts, seamen’s and officers’ dress, cartoons of the day, harbour views and copies of actual muster book pages.  His glossary is extensive (Guarda Costa, Gundeck, Gunner, Gunport, Gunroom and so forth) and his “Notes” detailed enough to satisfy any academic.  The text, however, is tailored to the reader with a general interest in the development of the RN from pre-Norman days’ occasional “King’s ships” through the gradual formation of a more regular “Navy” under Henry V and VIII and Elizabeth, and the confusing loyalties of the Civil War of Charles I and Parliament.  Throughout there are small gems of rare detail:  Flogging, despite its wide use in the 18th and 19th centuries, was rare in the 17th.  Punishment usually consisted of a capstain bar through a man’s jacket sleeves with weights suspended from its ends while he stood for long periods, or “ducking” in a sling from a yard’s end or even keel-hauling under the hull.  And the transfer of young boys from the Royal Hospital School into the Navy: Lieutenant Rouse: “These boys at 15 years of age , when they are discharged into the Navy, are, in my very decided opinion, generally very superior on strength in comparison to other institutions of the same nature.... where we are bound to take those who are sent to us.” (1849)

    Altogether a most interesting and readable book.

 

 
 

Conferences and Events

2016 Naval History Conference

Thu, 2016-09-08 - Fri, 2016-09-09

Join us for the 2016 Naval History Conference on 8 and 9 September at Alumni Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy. The Athena...

WEST 2017

San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA

View All

From the Press

Author Talk & Book Signing

Sun, 2016-08-28

Guest Speaker

Fri, 2016-09-09

Why Become a Member of the U.S. Naval Institute?

As an independent forum for over 135 years, the Naval Institute has been nurturing creative thinkers who responsibly raise their voices on matters relating to national defense.

Become a Member Renew Membership