VICTUALS AND PROVISIONS
I have little to say on this subject, as their quality was filthy and their quantity, except as regards liquor, negligible. It is on record that MR. WILLIAM THOMPSON, writing in 1761, states that mariners of the King’s ships have frequently put 24 hours’ allowance of salt provisions into their tobacco boxes. The allowance of beer or wine was one gallon per diem.
Owing to the limited stowage of beer, the practice of’ issuing rum as a substitute came into being early in the 18th Century, and finally was officially adopted. Rum, like beer or wine. was issued twice a day, the allowance being one pint for men and half a pint for boys. It appears that the beer was weak, generally stinking, and not the type of beverage that was capable of putting the "Souls of three butchers into one weaver." I have read that both Hawkins and Frobisher decided that they could cruise "As long as the beer lasted". In 1740, Admiral Vernon instituted the practice of having the rum watered, and since those days it has borne the name of Grog, this being the nickname of the Admiral who habitually wore grogram clothing and was nicknamed Old Grog.
Blake introduced brandy about 1650 and rum was substituted in March, 1687 (or 1688) as a result of our conquest of Jamaica.
We read that the cheese and the beef were capable on occasions of being cut into buttons, which seems to point out that these commodities were of a singularly indigestible nature. Water was kept in casks, and was never issued until all else failed, by which time it was noisome and stinking, as the casks were frequently used for a variety of purposes. It is nice to think that the water round London was considered to be "particularly good".
The term Junk or Salt Junk derives its name from a species of bulrush of which ropes were formerly made, and this affords us a practical view of the sailor’s opinion concerning the quality of his rations.
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