Mariners Ashore in the Eighteenth Century: The role of boarding-house keepers and victuallers
Seamen from Royal Navy ships were boarded in the 1740s with Betty Wright, a lodging-house keeper of Gosport, Hampshire. Her surviving account books together with the wills of hundreds of mariners open up a new light on the life onshore for these men, in a previously unrecorded manner, and enable lodging houses, victuallers and the families of mariners, to be brought into the wider economic and social context of sailortowns. The authors’ research on London’s sailortown was based on a methodology that took advantage of the increasing availability of online records, especially London’s land tax and insurance records, wills and other archives. Together, they provide a basis for exploring the many ways that women coped with households and work, when their men folk were away. They also reveal the strong links between mariners and victuallers and the variety of services that the latter provided to a constantly changing international clientele.