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Predators and Opportunists: British Seafarers as Prize Takers, 1707 -1828 David J Starkey Maritime Predators and Opportunists: British Seafarers as Prize Takers, 1707 -1828 David J Starkey Maritime Historical Studies Centre University of Hull At Sea Conference The National Archives, Kew 7 October 2014

Structure of Paper 1. Forms of Prize-Taking Activity 2. Drivers of British Prize-Taking Activity Structure of Paper 1. Forms of Prize-Taking Activity 2. Drivers of British Prize-Taking Activity 3. Global Numbers of Prize-Taking Seafarers 4. Micro Perspectives: Prize-Taking, 1777 -1783 2

Sources (but not Methods) GLOBAL Merchant Seafarers: Sixpenny Office Accounts (TNA, ADM 68) Privateersmen: Sources (but not Methods) GLOBAL Merchant Seafarers: Sixpenny Office Accounts (TNA, ADM 68) Privateersmen: Letter of Marque Declarations (TNA, HCA 25 -26) Naval Seamen: Parliamentary Papers, 1859, VI, 364. House of Commons Journals, XXII-XLII MICRO Prize Taking by Case: Prize Papers (TNA, HCA 32, 45) Newspapers 3

1. Forms of Prize-Taking Activity Parasitic pirates growing within, feeding off, merchant shipping Predatory 1. Forms of Prize-Taking Activity Parasitic pirates growing within, feeding off, merchant shipping Predatory privateers: seafarers preying on other species of seafarer Opportunistic merchant & naval seafarers who seized opportunities to take prizes 4

2. Drivers of Prize-Taking Activity Reprisal: faded from the early 17 th century Enterprise: 2. Drivers of Prize-Taking Activity Reprisal: faded from the early 17 th century Enterprise: defining characteristic 1620 s-1780 s Neutrality: shaped prize-taking enterprise 1750 s+ 5

3. Global Numbers of Prize-Taking Seafarers Range Low 46, 019 (1724) High 276, 005 3. Global Numbers of Prize-Taking Seafarers Range Low 46, 019 (1724) High 276, 005 (1812) Spikes 103, 965 145, 655 186, 368 234, 663 (1746) (1760) (1782) (1800) 6

The British Seafaring Workforce by Year, 1707 -1828 7 The British Seafaring Workforce by Year, 1707 -1828 7

Merchant Seafarers Range low 26, 283 (1726) high 169, 079 (1815) East Indiaman, 18 Merchant Seafarers Range low 26, 283 (1726) high 169, 079 (1815) East Indiaman, 18 th century Wages (able seaman, 18 th century) Peacetime: c. 25 shillings per month Wartime: Collier Brig, c. 1700 up to 80 s per month 8

1707 1710 1713 1716 1719 1722 1725 1728 1731 1734 1737 1740 1743 1746 1707 1710 1713 1716 1719 1722 1725 1728 1731 1734 1737 1740 1743 1746 1749 1752 1755 1758 1761 1764 1767 1770 1773 1776 1779 1782 1785 1788 1791 1794 1797 1800 1803 1806 1809 1812 1815 1818 1821 1824 1827 Merchant Seafarers by Year, 1707 -1828 180, 000 160, 000 140, 000 120, 000 100, 000 80, 000 60, 000 40, 000 20, 000 0 9

Privateersmen Range low high 7 8, 831 (1814) (1781) Spikes (monthly) 10, 632 11, Privateersmen Range low high 7 8, 831 (1814) (1781) Spikes (monthly) 10, 632 11, 331 19, 465 June 1744 Oct 1757 Feb 1781 Graffiti scratched on the walls of a French prison at La Rochelle by British privateersmen, 1746 -1781 Luoc Bucherie, Les graffiti de la Tour de la Lanterne à la Rochelle (1978) 13. 10

Privateersmen Remuneration Shares in prize fund generated through seizure of enemy property Supplemented by Privateersmen Remuneration Shares in prize fund generated through seizure of enemy property Supplemented by wages in some ventures Graffiti scratched on the walls of chateau Cognac by British privateersmen imprisoned by the French, 1756 -1758 Luoc Bucherie, Les graffiti du château François 1 er: Cognac (1993) 34. 11

1707 1710 1713 1716 1719 1722 1725 1728 1731 1734 1737 1740 1743 1746 1707 1710 1713 1716 1719 1722 1725 1728 1731 1734 1737 1740 1743 1746 1749 1752 1755 1758 1761 1764 1767 1770 1773 1776 1779 1782 1785 1788 1791 1794 1797 1800 1803 1806 1809 1812 1815 1818 1821 1824 1827 Privateersmen by Year, 1707 -1828 10000 9000 8000 7000 6000 5000 4000 3000 2000 1000 0 12

Naval Seamen The Royal Navy ‘… by far the largest and most complex of Naval Seamen The Royal Navy ‘… by far the largest and most complex of all government services, and indeed by a large margin the largest industrial organization in the western world’. N. A. M. Rodger, The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy (1988) 29. Range Low High 6, 298 147, 047 Spikes 49, 860 51, 191 86, 626 105, 443 131, 959 (1725) (1813) (1714) (1747) (1760) (1782) (1801) Wages (able seaman, 1660 -1797) 22. 5 shillings per lunar month Plus prize money 13

1707 1710 1713 1716 1719 1722 1725 1728 1731 1734 1737 1740 1743 1746 1707 1710 1713 1716 1719 1722 1725 1728 1731 1734 1737 1740 1743 1746 1749 1752 1755 1758 1761 1764 1767 1770 1773 1776 1779 1782 1785 1788 1791 1794 1797 1800 1803 1806 1809 1812 1815 1818 1821 1824 1827 Naval Seamen by Year, 1707 -1828 160, 000 140, 000 120, 000 100, 000 80, 000 60, 000 40, 000 20, 000 0 14

4. Micro Perspectives: Prize-Taking, 1777 -1783 Number of Seafarers, 1775 -1786 1775 Private 67, 4. Micro Perspectives: Prize-Taking, 1777 -1783 Number of Seafarers, 1775 -1786 1775 Private 67, 577 Navy 19, 846 Total 87, 423 1778 72, 852 72, 258 145, 110 1782 80, 925 105, 443 186, 368 1786 74, 270 17, 259 91, 529 15

Impact of the Dutch War “Never was the spirit of privateering at such a Impact of the Dutch War “Never was the spirit of privateering at such a pitch as at present; all Lloyd’s Coffee House is in a ferment and every vessel that can swim upon the water for 24 hours is expediting for a cruise against the Dutch. ” “Almost every vessel that lay for sale, or lay idle in the Thames, was bought up yesterday to act as a privateer against the Dutch. ” “The present moment is a fine harvest for privateers. The trade of the Dutch is now very great, and several homeward bound fleets are shortly expected, which from their imaginary security must fall an easy conquest to our ships of war. ” 16

A Privateering ‘Mania’ … BUT … Only 129 Dutch properties condemned to British privateers A Privateering ‘Mania’ … BUT … Only 129 Dutch properties condemned to British privateers (872 French prizes; 195 Dutch prizes to the Navy) An exceptional number of prizes condemned to joint-captors 17

Predatory Congestion in the Channel, December 1780 -April 1781 Large number of relatively small, Predatory Congestion in the Channel, December 1780 -April 1781 Large number of relatively small, heavily-manned predators & opportunists Predators ‘cruised’ off SW England, often within sight of land, and other predators & opportunists Congestion led to much conflict in Prize Courts, both between captors and with neutral consignees 18

Intensive Privateering against the Dutch, 1780 -81 Off South West England 19 Intensive Privateering against the Dutch, 1780 -81 Off South West England 19

The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttell Commander of the King George of Topsham 350 The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttell Commander of the King George of Topsham 350 tons, 22 carriage guns, 150 men Cruised off Cape Finisterre in search of Spanish shipping in 1779 Captured San Luis, from New Orleans to Bordeaux, with indigo, skins, coffee and 8 passengers 20

Prize Papers (HCA 42) detail appeal of Peter Paul Vanden Bussche, citizen of Ostend Prize Papers (HCA 42) detail appeal of Peter Paul Vanden Bussche, citizen of Ostend Buttell sent Bussche on a merchant ship to Trondheim and kept his clothes, money and goods on account of him being a neutral subject of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Germany Court found in favour of Bussche, awarding costs and damages against Buttell 21

These cases indicate … the prospects facing predators were diminishing in the American Revolutionary These cases indicate … the prospects facing predators were diminishing in the American Revolutionary War despite the increase in activity neutrality was increasingly difficult to counter why British investors turned to trade and opportunistic prize-taking after 1793 22