The logbook entry for the Halsewell - 28th October 1781

Here we read that the sailors on board His Majesty's Frigate (Captain Nelson's ship) have fired shots at the Halsewell, hitting the main mast and topsail. It was not uncommon for the Royal Navy to stop the Company ships in this way, with the intention of poaching the Company's experienced sailors, and setting them to work on their own ships.

About the Halsewell Logbook

The Halsewell was one of the East India Company's grand merchant ships. Its logbook reveals fascinating details about life on board the ship: men overboard, repairs and cleaning jobs, deaths and punishments, treacherous weather conditions. One of its pages records an incident in which Captain Nelson forces the ship to anchor, and proceeds to poach the Company's experienced sailors, recruiting them into the Royal Navy.

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 crew members all slept below deck, and lived on a poor diet. But the greatest danger to the seamen was shipwreck. About one in twenty of the Company's ships was wrecked or lost at sea. Considering the distances they travelled, this is not very surprising. The Cape of Good Hopehad very stormy seas indeed and sank many ships.

 

Taken from: Logbook for the East Indiaman Halsewell
Date: 1781
Copyright: By permission of the British Library
Shelfmark: L/MAR/B/465/a