Female Tars: Women Aboard Ship in the Age of Sail

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Naval Institute Press, 1996 - History - 205 pages
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The presence of women on board the ships of the Royal Navy in the Age of Sail has been disregarded by historians and ignored and even hidden by the navy. Suzanne J. Stark is the first to seriously address the issue of female "tars", and here she presents an in-depth study of the women who lived and worked on British warships of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Stark thoroughly investigates the custom of allowing prostitutes to live with the crews of warships in port. She provides some judicious answers to questions about what led so many women to such an appalling fate and why the Royal Navy unofficially condoned the practice. She also offers some revealing firsthand accounts of the wives of warrant officers and seamen who spent years at sea living - and fighting - aside their men without pay or even food rations, and of the women in male disguise who actually served as seamen or marines. This lively history draws on primary sources and so gives an authentic view of life on board the ships of Britain's old sailing navy and the social context of the period that served to limit roles open to lower-class women. The final chapter is devoted to the autobiography of one redoubtable seagoing woman: Mary Lacy, who served as a seaman and shipwright in the Royal Navy for twelve years.

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Prostitutes and Seamens Wives on Board in Port
Women of the Lower Deck at Sea

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