the XVII century, the ration of drink in the Navy was
one gallon of beer or wine a day. Owing to stowage difficulties,
Admiral Blake introduced brandy instead of beer in about
1650; rum replaced brandy in 1687 following the conquest
of Jamaica. The ration then was half a pint of rum twice
daily - half that quantity for Boys. Before brandy or
rum were drunk by the sailors, beer was the accepted ration
drink provided. In their days, Hawkins and Frobisher said
they could cruise as long as the beer lasted.
the beer must been terrible stuff - according to William
Thompson, who addressed an "appeal to the public to
prevent the Navy being supplied with pernicious provisions"
(1761). It "stands as abominably as the foul stagnant
water which is pumped out of many cellars in London
at the midnight hour and the sailors were under the
necessity of shutting their eyes and stopping their
breath by holding their noses before they could conquer
their aversion so as to prevail upon themselves in their
extreme necessities to drink it". In 1634 Nathaniel
Knott, in his "Advice of a Seaman" wrote that "The brewers
have gotten the art to sophisticate beer with broom
instead of hops, and ashes instead of malt, and (to
make it more lively) to pickle it with salt water so
that, whilst it is new, it shall seemingly be worthy
of praise, but in one month wax worse than stinking
1740 Admiral Vernon (commonly known as "Old Grog" because
of the cloak he habitually wore which was made of a coarse
kind of taffeta called Grogram) introduced the watering-down
of the sailors' rum
watered rum accordingly soon achieved the name of 'Grog'.
In 1740 the issue was 1 pint of rum mixed with 1 quart
of water, issued in the forenoon and again in the evening;
the evening issue was stopped in 1824 and the ration
of rum reduced to one gill (eighth of a pint) per man
per day in 1850.
Admiral Vernon (Old Grogam)
Vernon's actual instruction about grog is contained
in a letter dated from HMSBURFORD at Port Royal,
Jamaica, 30 August, 1740; it directs that the daily
allowance of 1 pint of rum per man is to be mixed with
a quart of water `in one scuttled butt kept for that
purpose, and to be done upon deck, in the presence of
the Lieutenant of the Watch, who is to see that no man
is cheated of his proper allowance'. (A 'scuttled butt'
is a barrel with one end removed)
is the mixture of one-eighth of a pint (1 gill) of rum
with one quarter of a pint of water (i.e., 1 part rum,
2 parts water) issued as a daily ration to all ratings
below Petty Officer of and over the age of 20 years
who desire it. CPO's and POs draw their rum neat.
grog replaced three-water grog early in 1937. (i.e.
1 part rum to 1 part water) Men entitled to the rum
or grog issue who do not draw it receive Grog Money
in lieu. Officers are not entitled to the daily ration
of rum or grog. Grog money was increased to 3 pence
per day in 1919; prior to then it had been 1 Shilling
and 7 pence per month.
rating below the age of 20 years is not allowed to receive
the daily rum ration; he is accordingly marked in the
ship's books with the letters U.A. (= Under Age). He
is similarly debarred from drawing grog in which to
splice the mainbrace. The expression is sometimes used
offensively by an older rating to a youngster to emphasise
his youth. Twenty years as the minimum age for drawing
the spirit ration was introduced in November, 1881.
Naval unofficial name given to the residue remaining
in the grog tub after the daily issue has been made,
or in the mess fanny after each man has had his share;
from the French "Plus". That which remains in the grog
tub is required by the regulations to be thrown overboard.
SPLICING THE MAINBRACE
An extra issue of one-eight of a pint of rum to each officer
and man of an over the age of 20 who desires to take the
rum, lemonade for others. The rum is mixed with water
into grog for all ratings below the rank of Petty Officer.
Ratings marked "T" in the ship's books may draw rum or
grog or lemonade when the main brace is spliced; no money
payment in lieu is allowable. The order to make this extra
issue may be given only by the Sovereign (or a member
of the Royal Family) or by the Admiralty. Splicing the
main brace is the only occasion when officers may be issued
with service rum.
name arose from the reward customarily given in sailing
ships to men who carried out the task of splicing the
main brace. As the main brace had to be led through blocks,
a long splice (as opposed to a short splice or a knot)
had to be made in it when repair was necessary, and the
ship had to remain on the one tack until the job was completed.
Thus the work had to be done at great speed and in whatever
conditions prevailed at the time since the ship could
not be steered effectively with a broken main brace. The
ship's best Able Seamen normally were chosen to do the
work under the supervision of the Boatswain. The VICTORY's
main brace was of 5" hemp.