Trading Ship Logbook

The Halsewell was one of the ships owned by the East India Company, the powerful English trading company that brought goods in great quantity from Asia to England - valuable spices, porcelains, silks and such like. This is a page from the ship's log book.

The log book reveals fascinating details about life on board the ship: men overboard, repairs and cleaning jobs, deaths and punishments, treacherous weather conditions. It also records an incident in which Captain Nelson forces the ship to anchor, and proceeds to poach the Company's experienced sailors in order to recuit them into the Royal Navy.

The Language of Shipping and Trade

The unique conditions of life at sea required a special vocabulary, and a set of expressions and vocabulary particular to seafarers. During its lifetime the East India Company sent its trading ships on thousands of journeys around the world. Crews of hundreds lived on board in cramped and unhygienic conditions. The ships carried all sorts of commodities from Asia to Europe: silks and cottons, tea, porcelain, spices. These products came to play a central role in British culture and, as a consequence, had a profound effect on the English language.