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Articles agreed upon for manning and fitting out on a cruise for five months, the Cutter Hope : Thomas Hall, Commander : mounts, ten carriage guns, no swivels, carries fifty men, and has a protection : port of Liverpool, fifteenth March, 1793.

Liverpool, 1793.
Physical Description:
1 sheet : letterpress and pen and black ink, on vellum ; 56 x 69 cm.
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
Archives & Manuscripts
Before embarking on a cruise, the crew members of a privateer would be required to sign the Articles of Agreement (or "letter of marque") ensuring the smooth running of the ship. These Articles set out the rules governing the conduct of the crew, the obligations of the owners or master, and term under which prize shares would be awarded. Considerable rewards could be involved, and it was essential that the term under which these men were to work were clearly understood by all. The present letter of marque in an interesting specimen, contracted at the very beginning of the Anglo-French War (1793-1802), when such articles were employed by the British to augment the efforts of the Navy in harassing the French.
Articles of Agreement for a privateering cruise undertaken in 1793 by the Cutter Hope, of Liverpool, Thomas Hall, Master. Partly printed, and completed in manuscript. Includes a tax stamp and two rows of red wax seals (accompanying the name of each signer). The articles note that three quarters of the prize taken went to the operators of the ship in consideration of their outlay in fitting out the vessel, and that the remaining quarter "shall be divided among the Vessel's Crew, according the shares herein after-mentioned." Sixteen additional shares were set aside to be "distributed by the Captain and Owners, to such of the Crew as they shall esteem to be the most deserving."
Further inducements are also offered for the zealous. Article VIII stipulates "That the first man that discovers a Sail, if it proves an Enemy, and be taken, shall have out of the gross Prize Money One Guinea." The first five men to board the vessel "before she strikes ... shall have Twenty Guineas Reward, as Reward for their bravery." There are also punishments for transgressors. If a crew member should decide to break these rules by the "Embezzlement" or "Concealment" of any goods "amounting to the value of Five Shillings" they would stand to forfeit all Prize Shares, the forfeitures being divided up amongst the rest of the company according to their shares.
Article XII states absolutely, "That there shall be no stripping of Prisoners, the Clothes on their backs shall not be touched, nor any violence used to their persons." In these cases, as also for leaving the ship without permission, the crewmen would be punished as a majority of the Ship's council saw fit. This council consisted of the Captain, Lieutenants, and Master of the vessel and was constituted to "determine all Matters, relating to Attacks, and Punishment of Offenders, not Provided for in these Articles." It is interesting to note that the operators of the ship are entitled to take out insurance on the prize money, and can also make up any losses incurred by "imprudently capturing Neutral Vessels" from the wages and other monies due to the crew.
Beneath the largely printed articles is the manuscript crew list which names all 46 crew members. Where capable, each crew member has signed; where not, a cross is placed next to his name. It appears that some twenty of the crew were confident enough penman to sign. In the columns following their names are set out the number of shares allotted to each man, his wage for the month or run; money advanced to him; and his date of discharge. There is some fading and flaking of the ink in this section, but most of the details are discernible.
From the record we can reconstruct the hierarchy of the Hope. Thomas Hall, the Master, stood alone at the apex receiving 32 shares, his pay £6 per month. Beneath him was John Johnson, the First Lieutenant, with only half as many shares, but £5 per month. Following on are the Second Lieutenant, literate, and the Sailing Master, illiterate, both with 14 shares and £4 10s. per month. The number of shares allocated to the Surgeon, Wm. Charles Cuthbert, has faded completely, but it may seem reasonable to presume that, with a wage equal the last two, his shares would also be commensurate. However, in the case of the next rung on the ladder this presumption does not follow. Both the 3rd Lieutenant and the Carpenter are allocated 12 shares, but the latter, Michael Sterling, receives a pound more in wages (£5), which is also more than his "superiors" a grade above and equal to the First Lieutenant. The Master's Mate stands alone on 10 shares and a wage of £4, and beneath him come the boatswain and the Gunner, 8 shares apiece, but a wage differential of 2s in favor of the former, £3 5s to £3 3s. Not quite bottom of the pile are the twenty Seamen, including the Cook, who are all on 2 shares and £2 10s, and eight of whom can write. Beneath them are the Landmen, 1 share and £1 10s, and the Boys, 1 share, £1 5s. Of ten Landmen it appears that only four were able to sign, the same proportion as their less lubberly comrades.
Subject Terms:
Anglo-French War, 1793-1802 -- Naval operations.
Great Britain -- History, Naval -- 1789-1820.
Hope (Cutter)
Liverpool (England) -- History, Naval -- 1789-1820.
Privateering -- Great Britain.
Seafaring life -- Great Britain.
Seizure of vessels and cargoes.
Ship's papers.
Letters of marque.
Tax stamps (Printing)

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