The expression A Sea Cook has come down to us as an epithet of contempt – and not without good cause. The original Cooks were generally cripples who had been injured in the Service. In 1704 the Lord High Admiral issued an order to appoint Cooks to Her Majesty’s Service, giving preference to Such cripples and maimed persons who were Pensioners to the Chest of Chatham. LORD NOTTINGHAM, when Lord High Admiral, gave a patent to his own Cook to appoint all Cooks in the Navy!
The Cooks had certain perquisites, one of which was half the slush from the coppers, which he was permitted to dispose of as he thought fit, provided it was not made into Duff for the sailors; the other half had to be given to she Boatswain for grease. He had a boy to help him and, being a cripple, did very little himself. In the early days he was what was known as a Standing Officer, with the Purser, Boatswain, Carpenter, and Gunner, and held a Warrant for his appointment.
For the use of his galley to any privileged friend who endeavoured to make his rations somewhat more palatable, he exacted dues in the shape of grog or tobacco.
His funnel, for which he was responsible, became known as Charlie Noble. It was originally of wood.
I have heard that Charlie Noble was a Merchant Captain who lived about 1820 - 1870 and insisted on having a brass funnel.
H.M.S. Victory, when re-fitting 1801-3. was given an iron funnel; up to 1800 they were made of wood.
The Cook’s assistant was known as Jack Nastyface.
It was customary when in harbour for the Cook always to have a red hot poker available for the firing of salutes.
REGULATIONS AND INSTRUCTIONS.
RELATING To His MAJESTY’S SERVICE AT SEA.
Established by His Majesty in Council. The 13th Edition.
PRINTED IN THE YEAR 1790.
The Cook is to have the Charge of the Steep-Tub and to be answerable for the Meat put therein, if any Part thereof shall be lost through his want of Care.
He is to see the Meat duly watered, and the Provisions carefully and clearly boiled, and issued to the Men, according to the Practice of the Navy.
Upon the appearance of Stormy Weather, he is to be careful to secure the Steep-Tub, so that it may not be washed overboard: but if through any unexpected Accident which he cannot prevent the same shall happen to be lost, which the Captain is to certify, he is to make Oath to the Number of Pieces lost, that is to be allowed upon the Purser’s Account.
The Steep Tub was used to soak the meat and extract the brine in which the beef was pickled. It was also known as the Harness Cask.
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