Pilfering and Theft from the Dockyards at the Time of the American War of Independence

By R. J. B. Knight, published August 1975


A culture of stealing from the royal dockyards has allegedly plagued their history. Knight’s narrative draws mainly on official documents to explore its characteristics and underlying causes during a particular wartime period, namely: poor wages, the difficulty of maintaining tight security, the ready market for stolen goods coupled with the ingenuity of their receivers in avoiding detection and conviction, and, in an age when a woman could be hanged for stealing food for her starving children, the relative leniency shown to those caught stealing. The persecution of ‘whistleblowers’ and dutiful yard wardens invites comparison with some modern cases.

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Filed under: American Revolution
Subjects include: Administration | Harbours & Dockyards | Logistics

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