Victorian London - Publications - Social Investigation/Journalism - The Morning Chronicle : Labour and the Poor, 1849-50; Henry Mayhew - Letter XL

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LETTER XL

Thursday, March 7, 1850

I am again obliged to defer for a few days my investigation into the subject of Prison labour. In the meantime I purpose occupying myself by inquiring into the condition, earnings, and treatment of the men belonging to the Mercantile Marine.
    According to the Occupation Abstract of 1841 the number of British seamen at that period was as follows: -
    Navy on shore 6,508
    Merchant seamen on shore 45,915
    Navy and merchant seamen on shore 52,423
    Ditto ditto afloat 96,799
    Total number of British seamen in 1841 149,222
    I am informed, however, by the Registrar-General of Seamen, that the above statement is very defective and not to be depended upon.
    The number of the last mariner's ticket issued at the office of the Registrar-General, up to Saturday, March 2, 1850, was 487,599. But this affords us no criterion as to the number of seamen. In the first place, all the ports have to be furnished with a sufficient store of tickets to meet demands. There are 120 such ports in the United Kingdom, and the average stock at each is about 150 tickets, amounting in all to 18,000. Moreover there are generally from 15,000 to 16,000 tickets kept on hand for the navy - so that the total number of tickets issued to seamen may be said to be always between 30,000 and 40,000 less than the number of the last ticket given out at the office of the Registrar-General. In round numbers, then, there are about 450,000 registered seamen; or, more correctly speaking, as many as 450,000 mariners have received tickets since the opening of the office on the 1st January, 1845. From this 450,000 a large number must be deducted for the deaths, shipwrecks, desertions, and other contingencies, which have occurred since that period. These, lam informed by Lieutenant Browne (to whose courtesy, experience, and intelligence I am indebted for a considerable portion of the statistical information contained in this letter), may be fairly said to amount to from 160,000 to 180,000. Hence the number of seamen belonging both to the navy and the merchant service, may be assumed to be between 260,000 and 280,000 individuals say: .... 270,000
    Of these, there are in the mercantile navy 200,000
    In ships of war 25,000
    In foreign service 45,000
    [total] 270,000
    I am informed by the same authority that no fewer than 102,000 lads have been apprenticed to the merchant navy service within the last 15 years.
    In the present letter, and those immediately following, I purpose dealing with the merchant seamen alone. In order, however, to take a more comprehensive view of the maritime resources of the country, it may be as well, before treating specially of the mercantile marine, to lay before the reader a brief account of the naval force of the kingdom; for all admitted authorities, whether historians, statists, or political economists, agree in considering the elements of the naval power of a State to consist in the extent and quality of its "merchant service," which not only supplies the seamen necessary to man a fleet in seasons of war, but which maintains that fleet by repairing the casualties produced by conflict with the enemy or the elements.
    According to the Government Report on the Army, Navy, and Ordnance Estimates of 1848, there were 252 ships and vessels of war in commission on the 1st of January in that year. The following table, copied from that Report, shows us the number of vessels belonging to the different classes: -

THE NUMBER OF SHIPS AND VESSELS IN COMMISSION ON THE 1ST JANUARY, 1848, THE NUMBER OF HANDS COMPOSING THEIR CREWS, AND THE NUMBER OF GUNS THEY CARRIED, WAS AS FOLLOWS: -

    5 First Rates, carrying from 110 to 120 guns, and 950 men and upwards.
    11 Second Rates, carrying from 80 to 110 guns, and 750 to 950 men.
    1 Third Rate, carrying from 70 to 80 guns, and 620 to 750 men.
    7 Fourth Rates, carrying from 50 to 70 guns, and 450 to 620 men.
    10 Fifth Rates, carrying from 30 to 50 guns, and 300 to 450 men.
    15 Sixth Rates (including all ships bearing a captain).
    49 Sloops of war and brigs.
    9 Packets.
    20 Surveying, troop, store, and hospital ships.
    24 Cutters, schooners, yachts, and tenders..
    78 Steam-vessels.
    22 Mail packets.
    1 Steam guard-ship.
    [total] 252 ships in commission.

    Concerning the number of men belonging to the Navy, the Naval Estimates of the present year afford us the latest information. The "Service Afloat" is there calculated to consist of twenty-six thousand seamen and two thousand boys, the wages for whom are computed at 1,041,190. For an explanation of these items we are referred to the following

STATEMENT SHOWING THE NUMBER OF FLAG OFFICERS AND THEIR RETINUE IN COMMISSION; OF OFFICERS SUPERINTENDING HER MAJESTY'S DOCKYARDS; OF OFFICERS, PETTY-OFFICERS, SEAMEN AND BOYS, COMPRISING THE FULL COMPLEMENTS (EXCEPT THE MARINES) OF ALL HER MAJESTY'S SHIPS AND VESSELS IN COMMISSION ON THE 1ST OF DECEMBER, 1849.

RANK.

FLAG-OFFICERS IN COMMISSION, AND THEIR RETINUE.

Admirals

2

Vice-Admirals

3

Rear-Admirals

4

Commodores of the 1st class, Commodores of the 2d class, Flag-Lieutenants

11

Secretaries to Flag-officers

14

Clerks and retinue

130
169

Deduct Commodores included among the Captains

3

[total]

166

OFFICERS SUPERINTENDING DOCK YARDS.

Rear-Admirals

3

Commodore of the 2d class, Flag-Lieutenants

3

Secretaries

2

Clerk and Retinue

18
27

Deduct Commodore included among the Captains

[total] 26

CAPTAINS, PETTY OFFICERS AND MEN.

Captains  1st Class 12
2d do 6
3d do 17
4th do 21
Commanders 81

Lieutenants

427

Inspectors of machinery afloat

2

Masters

124
Chief Engineers 1st Class 9
2d do 18
3d do 40

Chaplains

50

Surgeons

127

Paymasters and Pursers

106

Naval Instructors

43

Mates

388

Assistant-Surgeons

203

Second Masters

103

Assistant Engineers

274

Midshipmen

310

Master Assistants

145

Clerks

221

Naval Cadet

140

Gunners, Boatswains, Carpenters

822

Engineers

79

[total]

3768

Petty Officers

5949
Able and ordinary Seamen, Landsmen and boys, including Kroomen 14619
Total for effective Naval Service  24,528

    There are, then it may be said, 25,000 seamen in the British navy, whose united wages amount annually to 1,000,000.
    It is, however, with the Mercantile Marine, and more especially with that part of it trading to and from the port of London, that I am at present concerned. In order to understand the relative importance of this particluar branch of the merchant service, as compared with that appertaining to the other ports of the United Kingdom, it will be necessary that we first take a survey of the mercantile marine in general. I shall, therefore, present the reader first with a statement of the number of merchant vessels first with a statement of the number of merchant vessels belonging to the British Empire, and then proceed to compare the strength of our "maritime resources" with that of France and the United States. After which, I propose giving an account of the number, tonnage, and crews of the vessels (foreign as well as British) that annually enter or quit the different ports of the kingdom. To this I shall subjoin a statement as to the countries whence they come and whither they go, so that we may understand the relative importance of our commercial transactions with various foreign countries - and, finally, I shall cite the gross yearly value of our imports and exports, in order that the public may form some idea as to the amount of property which is annually entrusted to the care of the Merchant Seamen of this country.
    First, then, as to the number of vessels belonging to the British Empire. Subjoined is a statement distinguishing those belonging to the United Kingdom, from those appertaining to the Isles of Guernsey, Jersey, and Man, as well as the British plantations. This is done for a series often years, so that an estimate may be formed as to the rate at which our maritime commerce is annually increasing.

VESSELS BELONGING TO THE BRITISH EMPIRE

Statement of the Number, Tonnage and Crews of Vessels belonging to the British Empire during the undermentioned years: -

United Kingdon Isle of Guernsey, Jersey, and Man British Plantations Total
Date Vessels Tons Men Vessels Tons Men Vessels Tons Men Vessels Tons Men
1839 21037 2531005 151790 633 39630 4473 6075 497798 35020 27745 3068433 191283
1840 21983 2724107 160509 671 44155 5018 6308 543276 35813 28962 3311538 201340
1841 22747 2886626 167117 714 48773 5224 6591 557081 37857 30052 3512480 210198
1842 23207 2990849 180628 747 50571 5396 6861 578430 38565 30815 3619850 214609
1843 23152 2957437 169816 746 50144 5339 7085 580506 38822 30983 3588387 213977
1844 23253 2994166 170162 763 50226 5529 7304 592839 40659 31320 3637231 216350
1845 23621 3073537 177761 767 49643 5405 7429 590881 41734 31817 3714061 224900
1846 24002 3148323 180653 769 51462 5516 7728 617327 43107 32499 3817112 229276
1847 24409 3254353 183278 791 53568 5706 7788 644603 43906 32988 3952524 232890
1848 24832 3344764 185826 806 56045 5651 8034 651351 44592 33672 4052160 236069

According to the above table, then, the increase in the vessels, tonnage, and crews belonging to the mercantile marine has, in the course often years, been as follows: -

INCREASE IN THE MARITIME RESOURCES OF THE UNITED KINGDOM IN TEN YEARS.

Vessels   3,795
Tonnage  813,759
Men   34,036

INCREASE IN THE MARITIME RESOURCES OF THE BRITISH ISLES IN TEN YEARS.

Vessels   173
Tonnage   16,415
Men  1,178

INCREASE IN THE MARITIME RESOURCES OF THE BRITISH PLANTATIONS IN TEN YEARS

Vessels   1,959
Tonnage   153,553
Men   9,572

INCREASE IN THE MARITIME RESOURCES OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE IN TEN YEARS.  

Vessels   5,927
Tonnage   983,727
Men  44,786

Hence we perceive that the merchant vessels of the British Empire increase at the rate (in round numbers) of 6,000 in 10 years, or 600 per annum; while the increase in the tonnage amounts to very nearly 1,000,000 in the same space of time, or 100,000 tons annually. Employment is thus found for 5,000 fresh hands every year. According to the rate of increase in the population of the kingdom, the mercantile marine ought to gain only 19,000 fresh hands in ten years; whereas it will be seen that the real increase in that time is very nearly 50,000. Hence, 30,000 individuals must, by the continual extension of our maritime commerce, be drafted from the overstocked handicrafts and manufactures of the country.
    Let us now compare the increase of the vessels belonging to the British Empire with that of the French and American vessels. The following table will afford us the means of so doing: - 

AN ACCOUNT OF THE TONNAGE AND NUMBER OF VESSELS BELONGING TO THE PORTS OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE, THE PORTS OF FRANCE, AND THE UNITED STATES, IN THE FOLLOWING YEARS.

Date

Vessels

Date Tons
British Empire Ports of France British Empire Ports of France United States
1828 24,095 14,447 1828 2,518,191 693,381 1,741,391
1829 23,453 14,952 1829 2,517,000 692,356 1,260,977
1830 23,721 14,852 1830 2,531,819 689,589 1,191,776
1831 24,242 15,031 1831 2,581,964 684,127 1,267,846
1832 24,435 15,224 1832 2,618,068 669,381 1,439,450
1833 24,385 15,025 1833 2,634,577 647,197 1,606,149
1834 25,055 .. 1834 2,716,100 .. 1,758,907
1835 25,511 .. 1835 2,783,761 .. 1,824,940
1836 25,820 15,249 1836 2,792,646 685,011 1,882,102
1837 26,037 15,326 1837 2,791,018 696,978 ..

    By referring to the above table, we shall see that the vessels belonging to the British Empire numbered, some few years ago, considerably above a third more than those belonging to France, whilst the tonnage of the French vessels is less than one-fourth of that of the shipping of the British Empire. On account of defective returns, we cannot arrive at the number of vessels which belonged to the United States in the above years, but it will be seen that their amount of tonnage was about a third less than that of the British ships, and nearly three times as much as that of the vessels belonging to France.
    Having shown the extent of our mercantile marine, it now remains for me to set forth the amount of foreign trade carried on by its means between this and other countries. This I shall do first by exhibiting the number of vessels, British and foreign, that entered and quitted the different ports of the United Kingdom: - 

TABLE SHOWING THE NUMBER, TONNAGE, AND CREWS OF VESSELS (INCLUDING THEIR REPEATED VOYAGES), THAT ENTERED INWARDS AT THE SEVERAL PORTS OF THE UNITED KINGDOM, FROM AND TO FOREIGN PARTS, DURING EACH OF THE UNDERMENTIONED YEARS: -

Yrs. British and Irish Vessels Foreign Vessels Total
Vessels Tons Crews Vessels Tons Crews Vessels Tons Crews
1839 17,635 3,101,650 170,339 10,326 1,331,365 79,550 27,961 4,433,015 249,889
1840 17,583 3,197,501 172,404 10,198 1,460,294 81,295 280,081 4,657,795 253,699
1841 18,525 3,361,211 178,696 9,527 1,291,165 73,634 28,052 4,652,376 252,330
1842 18,987 3,294,725 178,884 8,054 1,205,303 65,952 27,041 4,500,028 244,836
1843 19,500 3,345,346 191,326 5,541 1,301,950 69,791 28,041 4,847,296 261,117
1844 19,687 3,647,463 195,728 9,608 1,402,138 76,091 29,295 5,049,601 271,819
1845 21,001 4,310,639 225,688 11,651 1,735,079 91,787 32,652 6,045,718 317,475
1846 21,273 4,294,733 224,299 12,348 1,806,282 98,452 33,821 6,101,015 322,751
1847 24,017 4,942,094 252,808 14,789 2,253,939 118,326 38,806 7,196,033 371,134
1848 21,783 4,565,533 233,932 13,100 1,960,412 103,532 34,883 6,525,945 337,464

TABLE SHOWING THE NUMBER, TONNAGE, AND CREWS OF VESSELS (INCLUDING THEIR REPEATED VOYAGES), THAT CLEARED OUTWARDS AT THE SEVERAL PORTS OF THE UNITED KINGDOM, FROM AND TO FOREIGN PORTS, DURING EACH OF THE UNDERMENTIONED YEARS: - 

Yrs. British and Irish Vessels Foreign Vessels Total
Vessels Tons Crews Vessels Tons Crews Vessels Tons Crews
1839 17,066 3,096,611 173,806 10,698 1,398,096 79,818 27,764 4,494,707 253,624
1840 17,633 3,292,984 181,580 10,440 1,488,838 81,672 28,073 4,781,872 263,252
1841 18,464 3,429,279 186,696 9,786 1,336,892 75,694 28,250 4,766,171 262,390
1842 18,785 3,375,270 186,816 8,375 1,252,176 68,493 27,160 4,627,446 255,309
1843 19,334 3,635,833 197,976 8,709 1,341,433 71,718 28,043 4,977,266 269,694
1844 19,788 3,852,822 212,924 9,816 1,444,346 77,109 29,604 5,297,168 290,033
1845 20,231 4,235,451 227,120 12,296 1,796,136 94,643 32,527 6,031,587 321,763
1846 21,079 4,393,415 233,562 13,323 1,921,156 103,201 34,402 6,314,571 336,763
1847 22,669 4,770,370 249,818 15,256 2,312,793 119,464 37,925 7,083,163 369,282
1848 21,177 4,724,027 244,971 13,645 2,056,654 106,822 34,822 6,780,681 351,793

The above table exhibits the following results: - 

OUTWARDS (BRITISH VESSELS).

Increase in the number of British vessels in 10 years 4,111

Do. tonnage of do. do.  1,627,419

Do. crews of do. do. 71,165

OUTWARDS (FOREIGN VESSELS).

Increase in the number of foreign vessels in 10 years 2,947

Do. tonnage of do. do. 658,558

Do. crews of do. do. 27,004

INWARDS (BRITISH VESSELS).

Increase in the number of British vessels in 10 years 4,148

Do. tonnage of do. do. 1,463,883

Do. crews of do. do. 63,533

INWARDS (FOREIGN VESSELS).

Increase in the number of foreign vessels in 10 years 2,774

Do. tonnage of do. do. 629,047

Do. crews of do. do. 23,982

OUTWARDS (BOTH BRITISH AND FOREIGN).

Increase in the number of vessels in 10 years 7,058

Do. tonnage of do. do. 2,285,974

Do. crews of do. do. 98,169

INWARDS (BOTH BRITISH AND FOREIGN).

Increase in the number of vessels in 10 years 6,422

Do. tonnage of do. do.2,092,930

Do. crews of do. do. 87,575

    It appears, then, that from the year 1839 to 1849, the maritime commerce of this country has increased to the extent of upwards of 2,000,000 of tons, three-fourths of which has been confined to British vessels. 
    Such is the extent and rate of increase in the maritime commerce of the kingdom. In order, however, to complete the circle of our knowledge on the subject, it is necessary to set forth the particular countries with which this trade is carried on. This will be seen in the annexed statement: - 

A RETURN OF THE SHIPPING EMPLOYED IN THE UNITED KINGDOM, DISTINGUISHING THE TRADE WITH EACH COUNTRY, IN THE YEAR 1848.

INWARDS

British Foreign
Ships Tons Ships Tons

British North Colonies, America

2279 886696 - -

Russia

2274 488156 288 77148

France

3848 461998 4127 350987

Asia

708 341675 12 4726

Germany

1593 314991 1257 130148

United States, America

493 303854 927 581700

Holland

1617 273750 1189 168171

Prussia

1343 201590 671 129855

British West Indies, America

704 199589 - -

Central and Southern States, America

557 169006 33 7927

Africa

575 168869 10 1974

Channel Islands

1711 154733 67 6903

Belgium

817 113080 651 93442

Italian States

538 88968 111 28950

Portugal, Azores, &c

754 77424 89 8397

Foreign West Indies, America

243 65916 82 19191

Turkey

272 54242 3 1088

Spain and Canaries

494 47819 103 11799

Denmark

260 29720 1966 146589

Moldavia, &c

171 26402 33 6781

Sweden

136 18211 539 98801

Whale Fisheries

55 15476 1 113

Gibraltar

51 14382 1 102

Mexico, America

28 14346 1 150

Greece

88 13520 9 2731

Ionian Islands

83 10874 - -

Malta

53 7785 2 315

Norway

34 1979 928 142334

Syria

4 482 - -

Falkland Islands 

- - - -

Total

21783 4565533 13100 1960412

OUTWARDS.

British Foreign
Ships Tons Ships  Tons

British North Colonies, America 

1766 668087 - -

United States, America 

942 523444 890 573938

France

3316 445541 3863 332133

Asia

780 398120 23 10779

Russia

1661 348222 255 56040

Germany

1491 308775 1211 116614

British West Indies, America

798 37258 - -

Holland

1369 219759 967 77700

Central and Southern States, America.

694 215413 106 25909

Africa

619 187263 84 17042

Prussia

1161 174161 551 109504

Italian States

817 156449 216 50532

Channel Islands

1373 123121 7 329

Denmark

794 117630 2793 245806

Spain and Canaries

713 104692 257 49730

Belgium

570 83653 551 77572

Foreign West Indies, America

249 78812 105 26499

Turkey

348 77090 58 16382

Portugal, Azores, &c

709 74221 180 29311

Malta

303 65853 45 11448

Gibraltar

170 30163 18 3796

Sweden

135 17428 365 46746

Whale Fisheries

49 13292 - -

Ionian Islands

74 11614 2 555

Moldavia, &c

68 9717 1 255

Greece

58 9708 6 1519

Mexico, America

45 7901 7 2576

Norway

61 7197 1084 173933

Syria

40 6453 - -

Falkland Islands

3 873 - -

Total 

21177 4724027 13645 2056654

    In the above Tables the different countries stand in the order of the tonnage of British vessels trading with them. We shall find, on reference to them, that the greatest amount of trade, both export and import, is carried on with the British North American Colonies.
    The value of our foreign commerce has still to be set forth. By this we shall see not only the vast extent of the international trade carried on by this country, but the immense amount of property entrusted annually to the conveyance of the Merchant Seamen. It would, perhaps, hardly be credited that they are engaged in transporting to and from this country, every year, merchandise to the value of near upon one hundred millions of pounds sterling. A glance at the collective value of the exports and imports will, however, assure us of the fact.

TABLE SHOWING THE OFFICIAL AND DECLARED VALUES OF EXPORTS AND IMPORTS INTO GREAT BRITAIN FOR THE FOLLOWING YEARS: 

EXPORTS.  IMPORTS.
British and Irish Produce and Manufactures from Great Britain.   Foreign and Colonial Merchandise, from Great Britain.  Into Great Britain.
Official value.
 
Declared value.
Official value.
 
Declared value.
*
Official value.
 
Declared value.
*
1840 96947122 52701509 12779057 6946834 60346066 32802714
1841 102263512 50896556 13765618 6841370 65873411 32785200
1842 101780753 51217658 14714635 7404633 62684587 30561255
1843 99911012 47012651 13577000 6388593 63589080 29921053
1844 117574563 51932056 13947513 6160542 68433050 30226520
1845 131338347 58316315 14387518 6388439 73547788 32656311
1846 134385892 59837660 16259126 6793183 83330609 37253238
1847 132041651 57545985 16291204 7099982 73057696 31839779
1848 125907063 58738945 19999344 9330226 82886971 37541125
1849 132617681 52849445 18360026 7316122 89253156 35568181

*The rates by which the official value of the exports are estimated were fixed in 1695. so that they have long ceased to be a test of their real value, and are of use only as showing the fluctuations in the quantities exported. The real or declared value for foreign and colonial merchandise exported, as well as for the imports into Great Britain, is not given in the returns from which the above statement has been compiled. It has, however, been here calculated after the same ratio as the real or declared value of the British and Irish produce and manufactures from Great Britain bear towards their official value.

    We shall find from the above table that there was a decrease in the British exports in 1842 and 1843; while in 1847 and 1848 the exports were again less than in the previous year. The foreign and colonial exports show a decrease in 1843, and again in 1849. The imports into Great Britain show a decrease in 1842 and again in 1847. The greatest amount of exports appears to be - for British and Irish produce, in 1846 - for foreign and colonial merchandise, in 1848: while the imports into Great Britain were largest in 1849. The amount of increase in the last 10 years has been as follows: - 

Increase in the value of British and Irish produce and manufactures from Great Britain 147,936
Increase in the value of foreign and colonial merchandise from Great Britain 367,288
Total increase in the value of exports from Great Britain in 10 years 517,224
Increase in the value of imports in Great Britain in 10 years 2,765,467

    Hence it will be seen that in the last ten years our exports have increased upwards of half a million, and our imports upwards of two millions and a half sterling in value.
    It may then be safely asserted that the mercantile marine of the British Empire consists, in round numbers, of 34,000 vessels, of 4,000,000 tons burden, and manned by 240,000 seamen, who are annually engaged in transporting to and from this country merchandise to the value of upwards of seventy-five millions of pounds sterling.
    The number and tonnage of the coasting vessels that entered and quitted the several ports of the United Kingdom in the year 1849 was as follows: - 

ENTERED INWARDS.
Vessels 133,275
Tons 11,967,473

CLEARED OUTWARDS.
Vessels 149,160
Tons 12,915,584

    I now come to that part of the merchant service appertaining to the port of London.
   
According to the census of 1841, the number of seamen in the metropolis was as follows: -
Merchant Seamen Navy ... 7002
Navy  ....  1,092
[total] 8,094

    This, I am informed, may be said to represent the number of seamen in London in the month of June of each year; in the spring and autumn, however, I am assured that the number of sailors in the metropolis is decreased nearly one-half.
    The subjoined table will enable us to judge concerning the relative importance of the several ports of the United Kingdom. It will be seen that the port of London, for the extent of its commerce at least, ranks far above all the rest.

Ports 1847

British. 

Foreign.

Ships Tons Ships Tons
London  6,271 1,436,986 3,132  494,791
Liverpool  2,841 953,760  1,366 541,701
Bristol  405 96,618 46 7,928
Hull  1,119 281,302  1,357 174,548
Newcastle  1,826 291,161 1,617 181,778
Plymouth 437 50,869 71  10,976
Leith  369 58,078 626 54,244
Glasgow 362 75,524 153 27,616
Greenock  310 99,557 11 3,093
Cork 452  74,456 252  45,338
Belfast  279 55,919 191 45,237
Dublin 359  67,125 134 28,321

    Hence it appears that the port of London ranks the most important of all: Liverpool stands next; then comes Newcastle; after this Hull, and so on. 
    The number of vessels (British and Foreign), and their tonnage, which have entered the Port of London annually since 1841 are as follows: -

In 1841 ... 6,641ships ... 1,306,867 tons

1842 ...  6,407  ships ... 1,233,921 tons

1843 ...  6,222 ships  ... 1,317,671 tons

1844 ...  6,885 ships   ... 1,361,869 tons

1845 ...  7,562  ships ... 1,502,491 tons

1846 ...  7,711 ships  ... 1,529,177 tons

1847 ...  9,403 ships  ... 1,931,777 tons

The increase in the number of British and Foreign ships entering the port of London has been 2,762 in seven years, and the increased amount of tonnage during that time 624,910. The total number of vessels which entered the several ports of the United Kingdom in the year 1847 was nearly 39,000, and the gross tonnage upwards of 7,000,000. Hence it appears that one-fourth of the entire maritime commerce of this country is carried on at the port of London.
   
The countries with which the foreign trade of the port of London is conducted-are particularized in the table below: -

 STATEMENT OF THE NUMBER AND TONNAGE OF VESSELS WHICH ENTERED THE PORT OF LONDON WITH CARGOES FROM FOREIGN PORTS, DISTINGUISHING THE COUNTRIES WHENCE THEY ARRIVED.

1847
British Foreign
Ships Tons Ships Tons
Russia 719 155752 314 55961

Sweden

11 1103 197 49498

Norway

3 240 164 47462

Denmark

40 6518 587 39938

Prussia

231 32066 362 70844

German States

193 51817 324 22600

Netherlands

.. .. .. ..

France

693 88880 325 23080

Portugal, Azores, and Madeira

350 36005 13 1761

Spain and Canaries

245 24471 50 5123

Italian States

127 16902 45 11239

Ionian Islands

32 4136 .. ..

Moldavia and Wallachia

18 2716 26 5186

Turkey and Continental Greece

136 2204 10 2305

Morca and Greek Islands

.. .. .. ..

Egypt

106 28652 15 3330

Tripoli, Barbary, Tusin, Algeria, and Morocco

12 1579 .. ..

Foreign Possessions in Africa

4 777 2 756

Foreign Possessions in Asia

33 12122 3 1557

China

62 28347 .. ..

America, United States of 

84 31322 180 92248

America Central and Southern States

188 50223 11 2637
Holland 588 116159 286 21720
Foreign West Indies 127 34054 44 9259
Foreign Continental Colonies in America .. .. .. ..
Belgium 223 42467 133 20787
Whale Fisheries 16 5306 .. ..
Total 4241 793698 3001 487797

There appears (according to the above table) to have been a larger number of ships from Russia in 1847, than from any other country. The next largest number came from France - and after that the greatest amount of trade was done with Holland.
    To this must be appended a statement of the number of vessels arriving in the port of London from the colonies and dependencies of England: - 

STATEMENT OF THE NUMBER AND TONNAGE OF VESSELS WHICH ENTERED THE PORT OF LONDON WITH CARGOES, FROM THE COLONIES AND DEPENDENCIES OF ENGLAND.

COLONIES.  1847.
Vessels. Tons.
Gibraltar  9 818
Malta 34 6488
British Possessions in Africa 214 58072
British Possessions in Asia 439 210125
British N. American Colonies 470 208541
British West Indies  369 111340
Channel Islands  503 52077
Total 2048 247461

    By the above table it will be seen that the greatest amount of tonnage from the colonies and dependencies of England has come from British possessions in Asia and British North-American colonies, while the greater number of vessels has been from the Channel Islands.
    The number of coasting vessels (including colliers and Irish traders) was, in 1847, no less than 21,926, and their tonnage 3,118,360; so that the vessels employed in the coasting trade, and entering the Port of London, are more than twice as many, and their tonnage nearly three times as great, as those in the foreign trade.
    Let me now state as briefly as possible the present state of the law respecting sailors:
    The reckless and improvident character of sailors, and the peculiar nature of their service, coupled with a consideration of their vast importance to our national welfare, have long induced both the Legislature and Courts of Justice to treat them differently from other labourers, to dictate the form of their contracts, and to construe those contracts in a peculiar manner. So long ago as the reign of George II., an act was passed requiring that seamen's articles should be in writing, and should contain particulars of the voyage and of the amount of wages. From that time down to the reign of William IV., many other acts were passed for the further regulation of articles, and for preventing seamen from deserting, or from being abandoned abroad. During this period Lord Stowell may be said to have laid the foundation of the present law by his many admirable decisions on the subjects of wages and discipline. He first invaded the old principle, that freight is the mother of wages; he used to consider these "favourites of the law," as he termed them - the sailors - like persons of weak minds, incapable of binding themselves by stipulations which they ought not to have been asked to make. Some of the rules he laid down were found fault with by the Common-law Courts, but they have since been virtually adopted by the Legislature. In 1835 an act was passed, by which all the previous acts were repealed and consolidated, forming in fact a code for merchant seamen. The principal features were - the establishment of a registration of seamen - the regulation of articles, not only by requiring the insertion of an accurate statement of the Wages, the voyage, and the scale of provisions, but by forbidding certain inequitable stipulations, and compelling the use of certain given forms, which it was supposed would render evasion impossible - the infliction of forfeiture of wages and other penalties, for desertion and misconduct - the affording means for recovering wages by summary proceedings before a justice - stringent regulations to prevent men from being abandoned abroad - provisions for compelling all ships to be provided with medicines, and large ships with surgeons - regulations for binding apprentices - and provisions for obtaining full returns of all casualties happening on the voyage. This act was repealed in 1844, by 7 and 8 Victoria, 112 (the act now in force), which re-enacts in substance the important provisions of the former act, with additional means for effecting them. It also provides for a more complete registration, by requiring all seamen to be provided with register tickets, which are numbered in succession, and which must be delivered to the captain on signing articles, and retained by him till discharge. It further requires all ships bound on long voyages to be provided with lime juice and other vegetable acids, which have proved so efficacious in the navy for preventing scurvy. These acts, it will be observed, did not touch the crimping system; and in 1845 an attempt was made to check the evil by an act (8 and 9 Vict., 116), which requires crimps to obtain licenses from the Board of Trade, and makes penal certain of their habitual mal-practices, e.g., detention of the sailor's effects, and boarding ships on their arrival in port for the purpose of soliciting sailors to come to their houses. This act, however, has proved utterly ineffectual, partly from the want of machinery to enforce it, and partly from the extremely low character of the crimp. In the meantime, at Liverpool, a successful effort has been made to establish an office where sailors may hear of ships, and where captains may find crews - in which each man is registered, with the character he has borne on previous service - and where, at the commencement of the engagement, the agreement is signed, and at its termination the crew is discharged and paid off. The superintendent stands by, and is frequently able to settle misunderstandings which would otherwise cause litigation. A savings bank is connected with the office, and efforts have been made, with considerable advantage to the seamen, to induce them to deposit a part of their wages when paid, instead of squandering them in vice and dissipation.
    The Mercantile Marine Bill now before the House of Commons provides an office in every seaport, in which hands may be engaged and discharged, in the same way as by the establishment of the Coalwhippers' office. The act proposes to give to the superintendent, among other things, power to recover the wages of deceased seamen, and to pay them over to their families, without the tedious and expensive process of procuring letters of administration. The bill also contains means for enforcing sanitary regulations on board. Additional means are provided for enforcing discipline. Another feature in the measure is the requiring all future masters and mates to pass examinations, and the giving powers to cashier those who are convicted of incompetence, drunkenness, or tyranny. There are, however, no express provisions for the education of officers or men.
    I have thus cited the principal provisions of the bill now before Parliament. It is my object at present to inquire into the state of the merchant seamen, with the view of ascertaining, among other matters, the opinions of the men mainly interested, as to the necessity for, or the benefits likely to accrue from, the proposed measure. I shall restrict myself merely to the collecting of evidence. It will be for the public to draw their conclusions from the facts I may bring forward.
    I purpose directing my attention in this and the following letters, first, to the state of the seaman afloat - after which I purpose following him ashore, and describing the impositions which are there practised upon him. The Merchant Service afloat is divisible into the foreign and coasting trade. The foreign trade, again, has many distinct branches, such as the East India and China trade - the Baltic - the Mediterranean - the Greenland - the South Sea - the United States - the British North American - the Australian - the African - and other trades. In the present letter I have space only for an exposition of the state of the seaman on board the Australian ships. Upon this subject a man who was much more than bronzed - as he was actually red in the face and neck - gave me the following statement. He had free and jovial manners, but sometimes evinced much feeling, especially when speaking of the emigrant ships. He wore three shirts - a clean one over two which were not perfectly clean - for he could not bear, he said, to show dirty linen. This happened only, however, he told me, when he was "out on the spree," for then he was in the habit of buying a clean white shirt as soon as he wanted "a change," and putting it on over his soiled one, in order to obviate the necessity of carrying his dirty linen about with him; so that by the stratification of his shirts he could always compute the duration of "the lark. He wore only a jacket, and felt inconvenience, when on the spree, in having a dirty shirt to carry about; and to obviate this he adopted the plan I have mentioned:
    "I was boatswain of an emigrant ship last voyage. They were Government emigrants we had on board. The ship was 380 tons according to the new mode of measurement, and 500 tons according to the old mode. She had eight able men before the mast, four apprentices, a second mate, steward, cook, first mate, and captain. In addition to these, there were eight supernumeraries. You see, sir, all the Government emigrant and convict ships are obliged to take out four men and a boy to each 100 tons. We were near upon 400 tons burden; so we were obliged to have 16 able seamen and four boys; but, as I told you before, we had only eight able seamen. To make up the deficiency, we shipped eight supernumeraries. These supernumeraries were no sailors at all - not able to go aloft - couldn't put their foot above the shearpole. They were mostly men that the Government had refused to assist to emigrate. The shipping master had put them on blue jackets, and told them the names of ships to say they had served in, so as to get them a berth. The shipping masters will get them a register, ticket and all; and these are the men who are taken in preference to us, because they go upon nominal wages of a shilling a month. I tell you what it is, sir. I saw today half a dozen of these fellows taken instead of six good able-bodied seamen, who were left to walk the streets: that's the candid fact, sir. It's a shameful thing to see the way we are treated. We are not treated like men at all; and what's more, there's no dependence to be placed on us now. If a war was to break out with America, there's thousands of us would go over to the other country. We're worse than the black slaves; they are taken care of and we are not. On board ship they can do anything with us they think proper. If in case you are a spirited man, and speaks a word against an officer that tyrannicalises over you, he will put you in irons, and stop your money - six days for one: for every day you're in irons he stops six days' pay, and may be forfeits your whole wages. There's as good men before the mast as there is abaft of it. It ain't the same now as it used to be. Our fathers and mothers, you see, gives us all a little education, and we're now able to see and feel the wrongs that are put upon us; and if in case people doesn't do better for us than they do now, why, they'll turn pirates. The navy is just as much dissatisfied as the merchant seamen. If a war was to come with France, we might turn out against them - for we owe them a grudge for old times past. For myself, I can't abear the hair of a Frenchman's head. It would never do not to stand by the little island again the Mounseers; but, again America, I'd never fire a shot! They have got feeling for a seaman there. There's no people running after you there to rob you. The pay's a great deal better, too, and the food twice as good as in the English ships. There's no stint of anything; but in this country they do everything they can to rob a seaman. They're cutting our allowance of bread down from one pound to three- quarters, and our sugar is reduced from one pound to three-quarters as well; and they're trying to cut down our wages to 35s. a month besides. But what's it matter what they give us? They can trump up any charge they please again us, or they can tyrannicalize over us till a man's blood can't stand it, and then can stop as much as they like, and we can't say nothing again it. I was out thirteen months and a half. I went away last Christmas- eve twelvemonth, and I arrived in London the 8th of February last; and what do you think I got, sir, for the whole of my service - for risking my life, for working all hours, in all weathers - what do you think I got, sir, Why, I had 10 2s. - that's it sir - for thirteen months and a half. I ought to have received about 32. My wages as boatswain were 2 10s. a month. I have had 4 and 3 10s. for the same duty. But the little petty owners is cutting down the wages as low as they can, till they're almost starving us and our families. The rest of the money that was due to me was stopped, because I spoke out for my rights; and five of the other hands had served in the same manner. The owners saved near upon a hundred pounds in this way; and what's more they were not satisfied with this. The owners (I give you my word) stopped one pound more out of the little that was coming to us, for a charitable institution as they called it. What it was I don't know. The petty owners take every advantage in us they can. They can build their new ships - one or two every year - and they gets them all out of fleecing us. I tell you what it is - such men will be the ruin of the country, sir; for the tars that kept the little island in old times is now discontented to a man. To reason why the owners stopped our pay was because we spoke out when the ship was short of hands. There was only four able men in her, and there should have been eight; so we had to do double work all of us, night and day. We complained to the captain that the ship was short-handed. But, you see, the wages for able seamen is more in foreign countries than in England; so, to keep the ship's expenses down, the captains object to take on fresh hands in foreign ports. Well, the captain promised us to get some new men at Sydney, but he went to sea short-handed as we were. So we axed him again to get fresh hands, as the ship was leaky, and we wanted our full complement of men; but he refused to do so, because the wages at the next port was nearly double the pay in London; and then we told him we wouldn't do any more work. This he called a mutiny, and our wages was stopped to near upon 20a man. The usual rate of pay in an emigrant ship for an able seaman is 2 a month. The tonnage varies from 200 to 1,000. Ships of 200 are not safe to go as far as Sydney or New Zealand; but that the owners don't trouble their heads about, so long as they can get their ship full of emigrants. The greater number of emigrant ships are about 500 tons. To understand how many emigrants can be comfortably accommodated in a ship, I should first tell you that in the best ships the emigrants are divided - that is, the single people are separated from the married; the single men are for'ard; the married people are midships, and the single women aft. In a vessel of such an arrangement not more than sixty emigrants to every 100 tons can be taken out with comfort. I have known near upon 100 emigrants taken out to each 100 tons - that is to say, I have known a ship of 380 tons have as many as 380 emigrants on board. (A carpenter, who had made his two last voyages in emigrant ships, here said "That is too often the case, I am sorry to say. ") A ship of 380 tons could take conveniently about 240 or 250 emigrants. The carpenter corroborated this, and told me that it is his duty to go down between decks each day, to open the scuttles and ports, so as to ventilate the ship, and he has frequently seen a man and his wife and three or four children all huddled up and almost stifled in a double berth (only a berth for two people). The death of some child has occurred almost every day in the ship. In bad weather, when the hatches are kept on and tarpaulined over, often for two or three days at a time, the heat between the decks of an emigrant ship is as bad as the hold of a slave ship in the middle passage. The usual allowance in an emigrant ship of the best class is six foot by two foot. But "I have often seen," the carpenter said, "the poor people, in some of the worst ships, stowed away for'ard so close that you might have said they were 'in bulk.' There were thirty people in thirty feet space. I know, as a carpenter, that many of the emigrant ships are not fit to bring home a cargo; though, as the owners say, they are quite fit to take emigrants out. I have seen right through the top sides (the timbers above the copper-sheating) of many of them - the planks have warped with the heat of the sun. A man has often to carry an emigrant ship in his arms, from one port to another, for the hands are always at the pumps. It may astonish the public that many emigrants are lost, but we ships carpenters are only astonished that there are so few." The boatswain here continued: "The carpenter has told you nothing but the truth. In the worst class ships there is scarcely any separation of the sexes. A partition is certainly run up between the sleeping berths; but as these do not reach the top, any one can make it convenient to get over, or look over, the partition into the next berth. There is scarcely a young single woman who emigrates that keeps her character on board o' ship, and after that she mostly makes her appearance on the town in Sydney. I'm speaking of those who go out unprotected; and what else can be expected, sir, among a parcel of sailors? The captain and doctors often set the example, and the mates and the sailors, of course, imitate their superior officers. There has been no chaplain on board the emigrant ships that I have been in. Some captains read prayers once on a Sunday, but many don't; and I have often known a ship go right away from London to Sydney, without divine service ever being performed. The Government emigrants, I believe, usually pay about 7 per head, and those who are not sent out by the Government pay from 18 to 20 for the passage. For this sum they are found in provisions. There is a certain scale of provisions allowed; but this is almost nominal, for the greater number of emigrant ships carry false weights, and the allowance served out is generally short, by at least a quarter." (I could hardly credit that the spirit of commercial trickery had reached even the high seas, and that shipowners had taken to false weights as a means of enabling them to undersell their brother merchants. On inquiring, however, I was assured that the practice was becoming common.) "Again, the quality of the food is of the worst kind. There are regular Government surveyors to overhaul the provisions of such ships; but, Lord love you! they are easily got to windward of. The captain, under the directions of the owners, puts some prime stuff among the top casks, and all the rest is old condemned stores - rotten beef and pork, that's positively green with putrefaction - and the biscuits are all weevilly; indeed they're so full of maggots, that the sailors say they're as rich as Welsh rabbits, when toasted. The poor things who emigrate have no money to lay in their own private stock of food, and so they're wholly dependent on the ship's stores; and often they run so short that they're half- starved, and will come and beg a mouthful of the sailors. They're not allowed above one-third of What the sailors have. We have one pound and a half of meat, and they don't get above half a pound, and that's several ounces short from false weights. They have three quarts of water served out to them every day, and that very often of the filthiest description. It's frequently rotten and stinking; but, bad as it is, it's not enough for the poor people to cook with, and make their tea and coffee morning and evening. I have seen plenty of the emigrants hard put to with thirst - they would give anything for a drop to wet their lips with. From all I have seen of the emigrant ships, I believe it's a system of robbery from beginning to end. There are gentlemen shipowners who treat their men and the passengers justly and fairly. These are mostly the owners of the largest ships; but of late years a class of petty owners has sprung up - people who were clerks of the large owners a few years back - and they take every opportunity of tricking all in their pay. These men, I say again, will be the ruin of the country, unless something is done to protect the sailors against them. They're driving the tars out of the country as fast as they can. Convicts, when taken out, are very well treated; the owners are obliged to take care of them; there's a captain of marines to look after them, and it's quite wonderful how differently they fare to the poor emigrants. I never knew the convicts to be badly treated on board of ship, but I've known the emigrants to be so continually. You see the emigrants are poor people, and have no one to look after them."