Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ship James: Two Voyages (1787 to 1789)

This is a continuation of a series of blog posts on Captain George Cannon. The initial post contains a list of all posts on Captain Cannon.

At Sea (February 1784)

George Cannon graduated from Peel Mathematical School on August 5, 1783 and the next record we have of his life is a survey taken by the school in February 1784, six months later, which notes that George was “at sea.” He was age 17. We have no idea what ship he was on or what the destinations were.

Based on his prior trans-Atlantic voyage to Jamaica on the Rawlinson, where he was ranked 23rd on the ship, and the next voyage we have knowledge of, the James, where he was ranked 10th, we can assume that he was regularly at sea and advancing in knowledge of seamanship after graduating from Peel Mathematical School, a period of four and one-third years. Before going into specifics on the James voyage, we learn more about George Cannon by learning about seamen in general.

A Seaman’s Duties

The saying was that an able seaman could “hand, reef and steer.” “Hand” means to take in or furl a sail; “reef” means to shorten a sail or reduce the length of a topmast, etc.; and “steer” means to direct the course of the ship using the wheel. These are functions that all relate to the sailing of the ship. To be expert in sailing, the seaman needed to know hundreds of ship parts by name, needed to know how to tie 20 or 30 different kinds of knots, needed to know how to knot and splice lines, needed to know how to steer, using a compass, two hours at a time, and needed to know how to handle the ship’s sails and rigging in all conditions, including wind, rain and darkness, while climbing up and down ratlines and balancing on a foot-rope a hundred feet in the air. In rough weather and in coastal waters, there was usually not time for a sailor to do anything else but sail the ship, or ‘hand, reef and steer.’

However, the sea is hard on a ship. The corrosive saltwater spray gets everywhere and extreme temperature variations aid the beating wind and pounding waves to stress all of the ship’s components and cargo. Therefore, aside from sailing the ship, particularly off the coast in settled weather, the sailors were doing constant maintenance and repairs to keep the ship functioning properly. The decks were regularly washed and scrubbed or holystoned; rigging, blocks and cables were overhauled; sails were replaced, repaired and improved; and wood surfaces, including the hull and boats, were scraped, caulked, tarred, greased, painted, repaired and replaced (most ships were freshly tarred or painted before each voyage). Therefore, the sailor had to develop sail making and carpentry skills, as most ships did not carry a sail maker and usually carried only one carpenter. Most ships leaked and finding the leaks could be difficult in a fully loaded ship. Therefore, finding and repairing leaks and pumping the water out was a regular task of the crew. As food and water were consumed, the casks were filled with seawater for ballast and the cargo was repacked and re-stowed to maintain a proper ship balance and weight distribution. In good weather, the hatch would be opened to air out the ship below and bedding and clothes would be brought up on deck to dry. Even in settled weather when maintenance was good, and nothing was pressing, it was an officer’s duty to keep each sailor busy, while on deck, in order to maintain discipline. So the crew might be directed to weave spun yarn (cord formed of rope yarns loosely twisted together) or make sennet (plaited strands of rope). The sailors only leisure was usually during the dog watches, at night and on Sundays.

The captain and first mate divided the crew into two watches, starboard and larboard, picking the crew members one by one, like picking sides for a softball game, according to their judgment of each sailor’s qualities. The first five watches were four hours long, followed by two dog-watches which were two hours each. Changing of the watch was signaled by the first mate or boatswain clanging the ship’s bell or blowing a whistle. The first watch was from 8:00 p.m. to midnight, second watch was from midnight to 4:00 a.m., third watch was from 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., fourth watch was from 8:00 a.m. to noon and fifth watch was from noon to 4:00 p.m. This was followed by the two dog- watches, the first from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and the second from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The dog watches made it so that the crew worked different watches on alternate days. Despite the watches, the entire crew was usually called at 6:00 a.m. to work all day, with breaks for breakfast and dinner. There was never uninterrupted sleep beyond four hours, and that sleep was subject to interruption in an emergency.

In foreign ports, while waiting for assembly of a new cargo, the sailors did maintenance that could not be done at sea. For example, the ship was careened (layed over on its side), the barnacles scraped off and the hull caulked, and tarred or painted. The empty ship might be sealed and “smoked,” to kill the rats and mice infesting the ship. In addition to maintenance, the ship was unloaded and re-loaded. Some cargo, such as grain, was loaded loose, and had to be shoveled into containers to be unloaded. Barrels had to be hoisted up out of the hold and swung on to a wharf or boats. The hold then had to be made ready for the next cargo, which might mean scraping, washing and drying it with fire and constructing new bulkheads (subdividing the space into compartments). Sometimes the new cargo was waiting in warehouses, or it might take weeks and months to assemble a new cargo. Before sailing, the crew would go into the woods to cut firewood. They also obtained cows and sheep which they slaughtered, salted and placed in pieces in barrels.

Back home at the Liverpool dock, after a long voyage, the work was not finished. In Liverpool, it was customary for the crew to unload the ship before the sailors were discharged and paid. It might take weeks to fully unload the ship before the sailors could return home or spend their earnings on drink and women.

A Seaman’s Rank and Wages

A young sailor usually started out as a “boy” for a number of years, then as he got more experience, knowledge and skill, voyage by voyage, he worked himself up to a ½ seaman, a ¾ seaman and finally an ‘able seaman.’ There was a corresponding increase in wages as the sailor moved up in rank.

When George Cannon initially started out as a “boy” on his first voyage, he may have done so for no pay. Then on subsequent voyages, such as on the ship Rawlinson, he was likely a boy with pay of perhaps 14 shillings a month (a pound was 20 shillings). On subsequent voyages, he would have received increases in pay. When a ½ seaman, he would have received about 18 shillings a month. As a ¾ seaman, 26 shillings a month, then finally as an able seaman, about 31 shillings a month. On long voyages, like those to Jamaica, the sailor usually got some of their wages in advance: a boy – 26 shillings; a ½ seaman – 44 shillings; a ¾ seaman – 46 shillings; and an able seaman – 58 shillings. This was to help the sailor pay off his debts to a landlord, or to fit himself out with clothes and other necessities for the voyage. Some portion of the pay would then have been given in Jamaica, and the balance upon completion of the voyage in Liverpool. From his pay, a “seaman’s sixpence” (half a shilling) was deducted monthly, which was used to support the Seamen’s Hospital in Liverpool. Captains often tried to profit from the sailors wages by charging the sailors two to three times the cost for items such as sugar, tobacco, rum, brandy and clothing. These charges could be paid from advance wages, or even credited against the sailor’s later wages. Wages were often deducted further, up to 10% or more, for damages to the cargo or equipment attributable to the crew. For example, staving (breaking) of casks during loading or stowing was a common cause of wage deductions. These deductions were generally allocated among the whole crew.

Sailors were hired by the voyage. In a long distance trade, like Jamaica or other islands in the West Indies, the ship made only one voyage a year. There simply was not enough time for the ship to be deployed somewhere else before she had to prepare for a return trip to the Caribbean. So when a voyage was finished, the unemployed sailor had to look for another ship, or if during a period when most ships were not sailing (typically in winter), looking for other jobs or idling and enjoying their time before another sailing job became available.

However, after a long voyage, wages could be more than ten pounds, more cash than most English people had in assets in their lives. So when a sailor reached Liverpool and got his wages, he was wealthy by working class standards.

A Seaman’s Food

Sailors were provided free food onboard the ship which generally consisted of salt beef, salt pork, dried salted cod called stockfish, biscuit, beans, flour, oatmeal, dried peas, butter, suet, and cheese. The sailor would generally get a pound or more of meat a day, and a pound of biscuit. Each biscuit was the size of a plate, white, and so hard that sailors with bad teeth had to crush them, or soften them with water. What’s more, during long voyages, ships supplemented the basic diet with fresh food in port, including meat, vegetables and fruit and other local foodstuffs. For example, vegetables such as ‘greens,’ onions, carrots and potatoes, were regularly bought by ships setting out across the Atlantic, often at the last moment in places such as Falmouth. Ships in the West Indies, before the voyage back to England, bought yams, sweet potatoes, squashes and citrus fruits. Each ship also carried fishing implements such as lines, nets and harpoons. When they could be caught, tuna and shark were a welcome change in diet, as were sea birds such as albatross. Sailors on voyages to the Caribbean also had a ration of one pint of ‘grog’ a day, a mixture of one part rum and four parts water.

Some of the dishes served onboard included ‘crackerhash,’ a pie consisting of alternating layers of salt beef, peas and powdered biscuit, baked and served hot at noon and cold for supper; and ‘lobscouse,’ consisting of salt beef hung by a string over the side of the ship until it was more fresh, cut in small pieces, and stewed in water with potatoes, onions and pepper.

During a slow passage, the captain might ration food in order to make sure they had sufficient to last the voyage. Within each watch, the sailors were organized into messes of three to five men, one of whom would collect the meals for his messmates. They ate three times a day on deck, on wooden trestles with square wood plates. This is where the expression “three square meals a day” comes from. Because food was a large cost in running a ship, owners and their captains had an incentive to minimize amounts when they could as much of the food not used on one voyage could be used on the next one. Therefore, food complaints were generally about rationing that was unnecessary or overdone, as opposed to the quality of the food, even though there were the inevitable common complaints of salt beef rotting in the cask, rancid butter, and biscuit reduced to a mixture of dust and weevils. In fact, although the food sounds unappetizing to us today, most people at that time did not get to eat meat and the amount spent for food on a sailor was as much or more as spent on shore by the typical Englishman.

Water, stored in casks, was another important item on the ship. The men needed at least four pints of water a day in hot weather. Shortage of water was often a problem and rationing was common in ships sailing to the Caribbean. In those cases, captains sometimes had to put a guard on the water to prevent it from being depleted surreptitiously.

Sailors often supplemented the food provided on the ship with their own. Many took food aboard, particularly cheese, both at departure and in subsequent ports. As indicated above, Captains were also happy to sell the sailor food and drink, for a profit, and recover it from their wages.

A Seaman’s Sleeping Arrangements

Sailors were also provided free housing, which wasn’t much, but at least the sailor avoided the cost of lodging while on board the ship. The common sailors generally slept in the forecastle of the ship (just behind the bow or forward end of the vessel), while the officers cabins were aft (toward the stern or back end) and they slept in extremely tight quarters. For example, in one forecastle in which 14 sailors slept, it was 21 feet at its widest, but it tapered to a point, and it was 20 feet at its longest, but it was significantly shorter at the sides. It was five feet in height from the deck to the beam and there was an additional nine inches in height between the beams. The sailors slept in hammocks hanging from the beams, just a few inches apart from each other, and the floor space below them was closely packed with the sailor’s sea chests. The only way in to the forecastle was through a hatch which had to be closed in bad weather and naked lights were usually not allowed below deck. So there were times when their sleeping space was airless and completely dark. There was a pervading dampness, which mixed with the smells of unwashed sailors, the bilge (seepage in the ship), bad food, rats and illicitly smoking sailors. The sailors would also often eat and relax there when off duty. In good weather, sailors sometimes liked to sleep on deck, in the boats, or even in the tops up in the mast, but this could be dangerous as a sudden movement by the ship sometimes resulted in the death of a sailor in those circumstances.

A Seaman’s Personal Items

Sailors were recognizable by their weather-beaten faces, rolling gait and clothing. They generally wore shirts and breeches made of ticking or canvas, checked or striped shirts and loose, baggy breeches, worn to the knees. They had colorful handkerchiefs knotted around their necks and flat and rounded Monmouth caps, or ‘mounteers’ caps fitted with ear flaps. They wore short, thick, woolen pea-jackets, or something similar, and the jackets and breeches were often tarred for protection from the elements. Before a voyage, they would visit a slop-shop, a specialty outfitter for clothing and bedding, at significant expense. In addition to about three outfits of clothes, they needed their own bedding, including hammocks, blankets, pillows and pillow cases, woolen gloves, woolen and worsted stockings, waistcoats and sundry items such as a razor, penknife, scissors, thread, needles, soap, pewter ware and a looking glass. Many had weapons such as swords, daggers, pistols or muskets. Sailors of substance would have one or more gold rings and silver objects such as a watch and chain, tobacco box, snuff box and punch ladle. Some brought leisure items such as tables for backgammon or books, such as the Bible or seamanship manuals. As indicated above, they often brought food on board as well. Most had tobacco or snuff, drink, such as rum, arrack or brandy, and items to enhance their food, such as sugar, cheese, bacon, pepper and mustard. These items were stored in their sea chests. The sea chests, clothing and sundries were expensive to obtain and replace and were essential. For most sailors, their sea chest contained most of their worldly goods. The loss of a sea chest, because of ship wreck, or desertion by the sailor, was more than the sailor could make up in a year at sea.

Below is a replica of a Monmouth cap and a necktie.

A pea jacket And a sea chest. A rope would go through the hole on the end to form a handle.

Seaman’s Leisure

While off-duty, sailors enjoyed playing cards and backgammon on deck, dancing horn pipe and jigs, and singing and telling stories. Many ships had a dog and at least one cat, to go after the rats, and some more exotic animals, such as monkeys and parrots, which provided entertainment. Even the livestock carried as part of the food supply, such as a seasick or drunk pig, could fill some time with fun. The sailors loved to shoot the guns, including the cannons which were on board many ships, and they looked for excuses to fire salutes, whether it be when they came to anchor, were visited by their owner or other dignitaries, passed men-of-war, or even when they initially came aboard the ship. Most of all, they loved to drink, and on special occasions, such as Christmas day, would drink in enormous quantities. Then there were initiation rites, such as crossing the line. The line might be crossing the equator, the Tropic of Cancer or entering the ‘Strait’s Mouth’ (the Strait of Gibraltar). All those crossing the line for the first time had to pay a fine, usually a bottle of brandy, or as an alternative, be ducked three times from the yardarm. Most sailors paid up, to the profit of the captain who supplied the drink and the benefit of the crew who had been there before, who got to drink the brandy. Those who did not pay provided entertainment in the form of being tied to a wooden harness and dropped from a yardarm into the sea. They also used their leisure time for more practical purposes. Most washed their clothes in sea water and would mend their clothes with a sail needle, thimble and thread, as their jobs required that they be skilled in needlework.

Alcohol was the sailors favorite pastime. In addition to the daily ration of rum, extra drink was provided or rewarded to the crew for hard or unpleasant tasks. Most sailors brought brandy aboard when they joined the ship and could buy spirits from the captain on credit at sea. Then, more drink was obtained in foreign ports. Punch was popular. It was made with rum, brandy or arrack, a sugar lump the “size of your fist,” water and lime juice. The lime juice helped to reduce the impact of scurvy. Drunkenness was worst when the ship arrived in port after a voyage. It might last until the ship sailed again. This love for drink was also the cause of many problems as it led to arguments, fights and even killings.

Seamen Stereotypes

The stereotypical seaman liked to dance and carouse, had a foul-mouth, was unconcerned about the future and had an independent spirit that cherished his autonomy. Only after spending all his money, piling up debt with his landlady, and perhaps facing jail, would he agree to go back out to sea. Some went voluntarily, but most went by necessity. John Newton described them as “the refuse and dregs of the Nation,” refugees of the “prisons and glass houses.” Some were “boys impatient of their parents or masters” and men “already ruin’d by some untimely vice”. Some were the wasted sons of gentlemen; some were landsmen, and some were “idle people from the manufacturing towns,” such as Manchester. Then there were those who grew up in areas attuned to the sea, like the Isle of Man, Devon or Cornwall, who developed a distinctive sense about the sea. They were “bred to the sea.” They were inured to its dangers and learned to be resourceful, in replacing sails and repairing boats, on land or at sea. They developed an intelligence in navigating dangerous coastal waters and judging unpredictable weather.

Often known as ‘tars,’ or ‘jack tars,’ they were like a fraternity that subjected new members, such as apprentices and boys, to pranks. As the new sailors literally “learned the ropes” and participated in ritual initiations, they were gradually incorporated into the fraternity of tars. They developed their own distinctive talk, using sea phrases and metaphors, and walk, using a wide gait to help keep balance on rolling ship decks. Their work was dangerous. They had to cooperate and rely on each other to survive the inevitable storms, shipwrecks, and enemy attacks, and many died. They learned to face danger and to live with extreme hardship. They had to develop physical and mental toughness. Their shared dangers and suffering created strong bonds among them and a culture of mutual aid. They treated outsiders roughly and they had little respect for soldiers or landlubbers. Older men were verbally abused by terms such as ‘old dog,’ ‘old rogue,’ and ‘son of a whore,’ and those who spoke foreign languages or who had injuries or disabilities were similarly treated. They were viewed as simple, illiterate, jovial, reckless, drunk at every opportunity, given to dancing, sexual promiscuity, inability to plan ahead and inclined to look for a positive outcome in any situation.

Although a life at sea was difficult and many sailors were killed or disabled, the life was attractive in many regards. They got to visit exotic and far-away lands, in an age when most people did not travel far from their homes. They got to see unusual animals like alligators and flying fish, meet people from all over the world, made a decent wage and had an opportunity for advancement better than in most lines of work on shore.

Ship James (December 22, 1787 to September 7, 1788)

After nearly four years where we have no documentation of his activities, we learn of George Cannon going to sea again. He was age 21 and ranked no. 10 in a crew of 34, likely one of the more capable able seamen. He was well seasoned with at least six years of experience at sea, and likely much more than that. After many years of earning a wage, he was well provisioned. The ship James, under Captain John Caton, left Liverpool on December 22, 1787. It was headed for Jamaica, George’s second voyage to that island that we have record of. December and January were the months of the year that ships normally left England to go to the Caribbean to obtain sugar. The James probably carried a few passengers, such as merchants or planters returning to the West Indies, whose passage money was not significant, but a nice supplement to the owner’s earnings.

Below, the Muster Roll for the James.

George Cannon's name on the Muster Roll, magnified.

The James may have traveled to Ireland to pick up beef, pork, butter and cheese, as these were items that were shipped in great quantity to the West Indies. Then it followed the route dictated by the clockwise pattern of North Atlantic water currents and prevailing winds. It sailed south, eventually paralleling the coasts of Portugal, Spain and West Africa, riding the Canaries Current. The Canaries Current would allow a ship to average 40 miles more per day, than it would otherwise. At a point near the Cape Verde Islands, west of modern day Senegal, the Canaries Current turns west and about that time the James caught the trade winds, blowing from the northeast. The trade winds greatly enhanced sailing times. Deeper into the Atlantic, the James caught the North Equatorial Current, still aided by the trade winds. As an able seaman, George spent time at the helm, steering the ship, taking advantage of his training at the Peel Mathematical School and his years of experience at sea. Growing up in the Isle of Man, George was “bred to the sea.” He grew up in a culture where the sea was part of his life. It was a way of life that was expected, not a demotion or a punishment, as it was in some parts of England. George had a sense for sailing in dangerous coastal waters and dealing with serious conditions at sea.

Sugar was the main export of the West Indies, along with its by-product molasses, and rum, which is a derivative of molasses. Sugar cane was cut in the summer and processed into a rough brown substance, called muscovado, during the last few months of the year, during the rainy season. Sales began early in the new year and continued until July, which was the start of the hurricane season. Purchasing sufficient sugar in the West Indies to fill the hold of a ship was a slow process. The James would have had to obtain sugar from a number of different plantations, possibly in different harbors around Jamaica, or even different islands. For commercial purposes, it was generally expected that it would take 70 or 80 working days to secure a full cargo.

The James may have stopped at another island or islands in the Lesser Antilles before going on to Jamaica, to sell part of its export cargo and perhaps start on its return or import cargo. Barbados is the Caribbean island closest to West Africa, but there are a number of other islands, such as Antigua, St. Vincent, St. Kitts or Nevis, that were often stopping points for merchant ships.

It took three to six weeks, depending on the winds, to sail to Barbados. Once in the Caribbean, the prevailing trade winds and Caribbean Current naturally pushed the ship northwest, in the direction of Jamaica. It was another 1,193 miles (1,037 nautical miles) from Bridgetown, Barbados to Port Royal, in Kingston, Jamaica, about ten additional sailing days.

Seven weeks after leaving Liverpool, on February 9, 1788, Thomas Harrison, a member of the James’ crew, was discharged. This could have been at Barbados, or one of the other leeward islands, or it was sufficient time for the James to have reached Port Royal in Kingston, Jamaica. Two more crew members, John M. Gowen and Richard Nelson, were discharged on March 2, 1788. Two crew members deserted, John Carver on March 9th and Thomas Packson on March 29, 1788.

The James was collecting a cargo for about five months, well more than the usual time required. It is possible the James was not collecting a sugar cargo that entire time. The James may have picked up a sugar cargo in Jamaica and then taken that cargo to Charleston, in the Carolinas, and exchanged it for a cargo of rice, cotton and tobacco. Or it could have taken a sugar cargo to Virginia and Maryland in exchange for a cargo of tobacco.

Loading a ship was an art. It was a juggling act between space and weight. The size of a ship was measured in ‘tons burden,’ the number of tons weight an empty ship could load to her minimum safe load line or freeboard. Most goods weighed more than water, and when packed and loaded, even with the wastage of space involved in stacking barrels and bales, the ship’s safe freeboard was reached before the hull was full. Some commodities, like cotton, were very light. A ship could carry the weight of 30 or 40 tons of cotton, but only had the room in the hold for a quarter of that. So a better measure of a ship’s capacity as a carrier was the cubic measurement of her hold. Light goods, like cotton, caused difficulty because there were stability problems in lightly laden ships, plus the cost of transporting it had to take into consideration the large amount of space it occupied. Cotton only weighed one-third as much as the same volume of water and tobacco only weighed one-half as much as the same volume of water. On the other hand, sugar was one and one-quarter the weight of the same volume of water. When carrying light cargoes, some very heavy items were needed. For example, iron bars might be squeezed in among the bales or placed on the bottom of the hold where it was damp and dirty, giving added stability to the ship without reducing much the space available for the cotton.

Either way, on leaving Jamaica, the Captain Caton of the James was faced with a decision. To get to the Gulf Stream which would propel the ship northward toward England (and to Charleston or Virginia and Maryland, if there were additional stops), there were two routes. The shortest route was to take the Windward Passage between Cuba and Hispaniola and catch the Antilles Current, which would then connect to the Gulf Stream. This, however, required the ship to go upwind, tacking the entire way (sailing to the left, and then to the right), which was very slow. The other route was to sail downwind, around the western end of Cuba and there catch the Gulf Stream which wound around Florida and up the east coast of North America. This route was longer, but shorter time wise.

As an interesting note, ships that stayed outside the Caribbean Sea could make much faster time back to England than those within it. The ship could catch the Antilles current which flows east of the Caribbean and use the trade winds to head quickly north to the Gulf Stream. Therefore, a ship with sugar from Barbados could ship that sugar back to England for about £3 to £3-10 (10 shillings) per ton. Because Jamaica was deeper into the Caribbean and battling currents and winds that were trending to the northwest, it took more time to get out to the Gulf Stream and thus cost more to freight the sugar. It cost an additional 7/6 to 10/- (7 shillings, six pence to 10 shillings) more to ship a ton of sugar to England from Jamaica. The trade winds and contrary current also inhibited communications among the islands of the Caribbean. A voyage from Jamaica to Barbados, or other leeward islands, would take longer than a voyage to England.

The Gulf Stream was the most powerful Atlantic Current. It could add 130 miles per day to the speed of the ship. At a point off the coast of Massachusetts, the Gulfstream heads east and starts to lose speed south of Novia Scotia. The Gulf Stream peters out beyond the Grand Banks south of Newfoundland. There, aided by the westerly winds, the ship would follow the North Atlantic Drift back to England.

Below, a graphic of the North Atlantic, showing the major ocean currents.

The James arrived back in Liverpool on September 7, 1788, 8 ½ months after leaving. Upon arrival, George Cannon and the rest of the crew had to unload the cargo before they were discharged and paid.

Ship James (December 16, 1788 to July 24, 1789)

A little more than three months later, George Cannon was back to sea on the same ship, the James, with the same destination, Jamaica. It left Liverpool on December 16, 1788, just six days earlier than a year from the prior voyage. The captain, Thomas Wilks, was different, and there were seven fewer crew members, 27, as compared to 34. However, 15 of the crew from the prior journey made up the crew for this journey, more than half. The first mate, John Wallace, was the same, as was the number 4 man, Thomas Brade. It is interesting to note the difference in ranking of the other crew members’, first journey compared to the second: 9 of the 13, including George Cannon, have a lower rank.

George Cannon 10 14
William Hillsy 14 13
Charles Dinroach 12 15
Thomas Clegge 7 16
John Clague 8 17
William Manuergh 13 18
John Croughan 15 19
James Cubbon 16 20
Phillip Moore 9 21
Thomas Briggs 30 22
Thomas Harrison 33 24
David Chambers 31 25
Thomas Huddleston 22 26

One of the crew members who was discharged in the West Indies, Thomas Harrison, found his way back to Liverpool and got back on to the ship with a considerable rank advancement.

On March 23, 1789, a fellow Manxman, John Cowley, deserted. He was the only one of the crew not to make the entire voyage. This voyage was more than a month faster. So it was able to sell its cargo and obtain a new one quicker, or perhaps avoided a second leg to North America. The James returned to Liverpool on July 24, 1789, 7 months and 8 days after sailing.

Below is the Muster Roll for the second journey of the James.

And George Cannon's name on the roll, magnified.

The following are sources used for the above.
(Marcus Rediker, The Slave Ship: A Human History (Viking Penguin, New York: 2007), pp. 60-61, 225-227, 230-237; Behrendt, Stephen D., “Human Capital in the British Slave Trade,” Richardson, David, Schwarz, Suzanne and Tibbles, Anthony, editors, Liverpool and Transatlantic Slavery, (Liverpool University Press, Liverpool: 2007, pp. 72-74 [the monthly wages given above are based on average wages paid in Bristol from 1789 to 1794]; Davis, Ralph, The Rise of the English Shipping Industry In the 17th and 18th Centuries (Redwood Press Limited, London: 1962), pp. 113, 116, 122, 143-146, 157-158, 178-180, 187-188, 267-269, 279-284, 286-287, 294; Peter Earle, Sailors: English Merchant Seamen 1650-1775 (Methuan, London: 1998), pp.34-35, 41-42, 56-58, 67, 70-71, 74-82, 85-99; Bruce L. Mouser, editor, A Slaving Voyage to Africa and Jamaica: The Log of the Sandown, 1793-1794 by Samuel Gamble (Indiana University Press, Bloomington: 2002), p. 6 and n. 22; Herman, Arthur, To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World (Harper Perennial, New York, 2004), pp.27-28, 254, 297; Emma Christopher, Slave Ship Sailors and Their Captive Cargoes, 1730-1807 (Cambridge University Press, New York: 2006), pp. 19, 53-58; Steele, Ian Kenneth, The English Atlantic, 1675-1740 (Oxford University Press: 1986), pp. 7-9; Curtin, Philip D., The Rise and Fall of the Plantation Complex (Cambridge University Press: 1998), p. 75; O’Shaugnessy, Andrew Jackson, An Empire Divided (University of Pennsylvania Press: 2000), p. 32)


  1. This is an amazing amount of research and was really interesting. What a life! I'm grateful to have been born in the 20th century!

  2. Thanks for the effort you took to expand upon this post so thoroughly. I look forward to future posts.
    There are various sea vessels involved in shipping to jamaica. It may include box boats or container ships, bulk carriers, tankers, ferries, cable layers, dredgers and barges.