Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Powder Monkey

Last night at my presentation I touched on orphan records. This got me on the subject of children, young boys, in England, about the late 1700's-early 1800's being press ganged into naval service. They were used as powder monkey's. According to an 1811 Dictionary, a powder monkey is "a boy on board a ship of war, whose business is to fetch powder from the magazine." (found at http://www.fromoldbooks.org/Grose-VulgarTongue/p/powder-monkey.html).

A picture of an American Civil War powder monkey can be found at http://www.old-picture.com/civil-war/Powder-Monkey.htm.

I actually had an ancestor who was kidnapped and forced onto a naval ship for the British Navy. He made his way to America and ran away from there. Because, he had been kidnapped about age 7, he had changed the spelling of his surname because he did not know how to spell it. It was only after meeting some relatives by chance, that he learned how to spell his surname.

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