practice of levying fines is still carried out in the Merchant Service,
for certain offences of this nature, in accordance with the Merchant
Shinping Act, Section 235, et seq.
If a robber be convicted of theft, boiling pitch shall be poured
over his head and a shower of feathers be shaken over to mark him,
and he shall be cast ashore at the first land at which the Fleet
strikng feature of this code is, that although rigorous penalties
are laid down for the various misdemeanours it is especially ordered
that the opinion of the crew is to be taken into consideration under
certain circumstances, and the decision of the majority is to be
instance, ‘If a ship is in Haven and stays to await her time, and
the time comes for departure, the Master is to take counsel with
his companions and say to them —
you have this weather.’ There will be some who will say ‘The weather
is not good’ and some who say the weather is ‘Fine and good.’ The
Master is bound to agree with the greater part of his companions,
and if be does other-wise, he is bound to replace the ship and the
goods if they are lost, and this is the judgement in this case.
recent and former Queen’s Regulations and Admiralty Instructions
and the Naval Discipline Act both contain references to the ‘Custom
of the Sea’ and the ‘Custom of the Service,’ vide Section 44, Naval
Discipline Act, where it says that persons shall be proceeded against
and punished ‘According to the laws and customs used at sea’.
Part III., Naval Discipline Act, Sec. 52, clause 2, we find the
expression According to the custom to the Navy. It is interesting
to observe that Sect. 43, Naval Discipline Act, states that ‘Every
Person subject to this Act who shall be guilty of any act, disorder,
or neglect to the prejudice of good order and Naval Discipline not
herein before specified, shall be dismissed from Her Majesty’s Service
with disgrace, or suffer such other punishment as is hereinafter
mentioned.’ This, I think, used to be the 99th Article of War, and
on account of its covering properties has been known for many years
as the Captain’s Cloak.
Sir THOMAS AUDLEY at the command of King HENRY VIII. framed a book
of orders for War both by land and sea. The following are some of
the Laws which be written what every man ought to do in the ship
towards his Captain to be set in the main mast in parchment to beread
as occasion shall serve’
the DFDA in the relatively recent days of the NDA, it was customary
for copies of the NDA to be distributed round the ship in easily
any man within a ship had slept upon his watch four times and so
proved, this be his punishment. The first time he shall be headed
at the mainmast with a bucket of water poured upon his head.
second time he shall be armed, his hands held up by a rope, and
two buckets of water poured into his sleeves. This latter corresponds
with the old Military punishmentwhich still exists in Barrack rooms
although not authorised, known as Booting and Bottling, and was
generally peculiar to the Cavalry.
In later times in the Navy about the Nelsonic period, we read of
this punishment being known as Grampussing, or Making a man a soused
It was not infrequently followed by putting a man in the lee of
a sail so as to get the full benefit of the draught, walking the
weather hammock netting, or being spread eagled in the weather rigging.
to continue, ‘The third time he shall be bound to the mainmast with
gun chambers tied to his arms and with as much pain to his body
as the Captain will.
fourth and last punishment being, as we would say nowadays a cumulation
of offences, it is enacted that ‘Being taken asleep he shall be
hanged to the bowsprit end of the ship in a basket, with a can of
beer, a loaf of bread and a sharpknife, and choose to hang there
until he starve or cut himself into the sea.
VIII. laid down that no Captain shall take the wind of his Admiral,
but come under his lee except necessity require the same, and from
this we may say that we derive the practice of an inferior in rank
giving way to a superior, or asking permission before crossing his
hanging, keelhauling, etc., were punishments which existed up to
modern times with the exception of keelhauling, which, although
in use in the Dutch and French Services up to approximately 1750,
was discontinued in the British Navy somewhere it is believed, about
the Stuart period, although there is a reference to keelhauling
in the ‘Fair Quaker of Deal ’written about 1720, which makes it,
appear possible that this form of punishment existed till the middle
of the 18th Century in the Royal Navy.
last official yardarm execution took place at Talienwan Bay in the
second Chinese War in 1860, and was witnessed by General Sir Alexander
Tulloch.The culprit was a Marine charged with atternrting to murder
his Captain, and the execution was also witnessed by troops specially
paraded on shore.
regard to flogging, we are still bound by the regulations that it
shall be carried out at the gangway, according to the custom of
interesting case concerning flogging took place under Adthiral Cornwaliis
who, the chronicles relate, ordered a Lieutenant of his own ship
to be flogged under the following circumstances.
Blue’ as Admiral Cornwallis was popularly called, appeared on deck
having taken one glass of wine more than his customary allowance,
which state of affairs led to his being totally unaware of his subsequent
actions. He desired the Captain to turn the hands up to witness
punishment. The order was obeyed with all ceremony customary on
these occasions, but everybody was at a loss as to the reason for
the order, for not only was it at an unusual time of day, but also
was it unusual for the Admiral personnaly to interfere with the
ship’s routine. On the hands being reported present, Admiral Cornwallis
pointed to an Officer and ordered him to strip. Time did not permit
any argument or expostulation, nor to point out the impropriety
of the Admiral’s conduct.
Officer was duly seized up to a grating and flogged. The next day
the Admiral ‘was told of the occurrence', and again desired the
hands to be turned up, and the Officer who had been flogged brought
up on deck.The Admiral then appeared on deck with a cane in his
hand, and walking up to the astonished Officer, addressed him as
am told that yesterday evening I ordered you, Sir, to be flogged,and
that my orders were carried into execution on this quarterdeck,
but upon my honour I have not the slightest recollection of the
circumstances. It appears to be true, however; therefore this morning
I have assembled those who saw you punished, and in their presence
I have to tell you that I don’t come here to make an apology for
what I have done, because no British Officer could receive an apology
from anyone after being struck:
I did not strike you myself, I caused another to do so. I won’t
ask your pardon, Sir, because as a man of honour you could not,
in this way, Pardon an unpardonable offence. Nor, Sir, will I waive
my rank to give you personal satisfaction on shore, because, by
receiving your fire or firing at you, I could not obliterate the
stain I have laid upon your shoulders. But I ask a favour of you
before the ship’s comany, which is that you will take this cane
and use it on my back as long as it will hold together. By God!
I would do so to any man who served me as I served you.You may thrash
me if you please as much as you like, and as I am a living man it
shall not interfere with your future promotion’
he presented the handle of the cane to the Officer who took itand
snapped it across his knee and threw the The pieces overboard, and
extending his hand to the Admiral announced that he forgave him
with all his heart.
Officer is stated to have finished his Naval career that voyage
and obtained a capital aprointment on shore under the patronage
of the Admiral’s brother — an appointment for which he might have
sighed in vain but for his luck in tasting ‘Billy B1ue’s discipline.