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Constructing communities: living and working in the Royal Navy, c.1830-1860

Constructing communities: living and working in the Royal Navy, c.1830-1860

Preston, Virginia (2008) Constructing communities: living and working in the Royal Navy, c.1830-1860. PhD thesis, University of Greenwich.

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This thesis examines the experiences of the sailors who worked in the Royal Navy from the 1830s to the early days of continuous service contracts. With the coming of peace, the Royal Navy had dropped rapidly in size, from nearly 950 ships in 1815 to 128 by 1821, and relied entirely on volunteers to man these ships. It nonetheless remained in operation all over the world as an instrument of British foreign policy, with ships on the West African coast in anti-slave patrols, on the China station, in Australasia and North America, and in home waters and the Mediterranean.

This period also saw the start of the change from sail to steam. By 1850 there were 71 steam ships and vessels in the Royal Navy compared to 106 sailing ships. This study considers the reasons sailors volunteered to serve with the Royal Navy, their training, promotion and career prospects, as well as their daily lives on board different types of ship at home and overseas, and how these changed during the period.

Continuous service contracts provided for centralised administration, which made manning ships quicker and meant that for the first time most adult sailors joined the Navy rather than a specific ship. However, many of those who served in the Royal Navy before 1853 already regarded it as their main employer and had long and successful careers within it, with some signing up for longer periods of service. Recruitment was not a problem for the Navy in this period, and rating systems, pay, training and conditions were already being improved to provide incentives for long service and the development of skills. The new contracts recognised changes that had already taken place in the way sailors saw themselves and the Royal Navy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:
Uncontrolled Keywords: Royal Navy, nineteenth century, community, work, living, maritime history, sailors, training, discipline, punishment,
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
V Naval Science > V Naval Science (General)
Pre-2014 Departments: Greenwich Maritime Institute
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2018 15:53

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