Pictures or Description of Match Tubs

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    James G

      I’m a new member, I’ve been looking for photos or an accurate description of match tubs for slow match aboard ship. I’m primarily looking for something from 1770-1812, but any information about the design and use is welcome.

      Nicholas Blake

        We know they were big enough to sit on from a court martial in 1798:

        Richard Doran, corporal, and George Walker, private, of the Neptune, for insolent language and contemptuous behaviour to their superior officer, held on board the Cambridge, Hamoaze, 26 September 1798

        James Copping, Gunner: ‘On Friday the 24th day of August last as I was attending in the middle deck with a part of my crew, fitting the slings of the main yard, I observed Walker the Marine and corporal Doran, cavilling with each other who felt the first slap in the face. I took very little notice of that but observing Walker the marine setting on one of the match tubs I went to him and said “my Friend get off this match tub” which with some little reluctance he did, he then placed himself on the Gun Carriage from there he sit himself on the Deck, and said to me “Gunner, I suppose I can sit here – I answered if you like my lad. – He turned his head at me with a very contemptuous look, and said Mr Gunner I recollect when you kick’d me going down the after Ladder if ever I catch you on shore I will have my satisfaction of you if it [sic] a twelve month hence, or I will put you in the crown office – Corporal Doran replied to him, I recommend you for your spirit my lad. At these words I immediately went on the quarter deck . . . ‘

        Henry King, nature not given: ‘On the 24: August last between 3 and 4 o’clock in the afternoon I was at work on the middle deck serving a pair of mast head slings for the main yard, and Mr Capping the gunner came and stood by us and turning himself round he saw the prisoner Walker sitting on a match tub which was bottom up, and told him to get off from it. Walker turn’d himself round, and seeing who spoke to him got off immediately from off the tub. Mr Copping then took the Match Tub away and turned it bottom downwards – Walker stood a bit after Mr Copping took the Match Tub from him Walker then sat down upon the Deck and said may I set here, Mr Copping said you may in safety without breaking thro’ – it’s the fittest place for you – Walker then made answer to Mr Copping Mr Gunner I have not forgot your kicking me on the Ladder. Mr Copping told him to hold his Tongue, and ‘twou’d be better for him. Walker said he would not for what he said there he wou’d say before the Captain, or any other Man. And when I get onshore, I’ll have satisfaction and let you know you have not [sic] right to kick me and call me a soldierly rascal. I heard Corporal Doran say to Walker, Walker I commend you for your spirit. When Mr Copping went away and Walker got up and going up to the main hatchway said he would put Mr Copping in the crown office.’

        All the other testimony, including the defence witnesses, confirms or is unable to refute the basic evidence.

        Proved: Doran to ‘be reduced’, and 150 lashes round the fleet; Walker, 50 lashes on board the Neptune.

        ADM 1/5346

        James G

          Thanks Nicholas,
          Every tidbit helps!

          David Hepper

            Definitions of Match Tubs from Marine Dictionaries, one from 1815, the other from 1867; the earlier one is probably more relevant to the period you are interested in =

            From A New Universal Dictionary of the Marine etc Originally compiled by William Falconer, now modernized and much enlarged by William Burney London 1815
            MATCH – TUB (baille de combat Fr) the half of a cask, having notches sawn in its edge, wherein the lighted matches are placed during action, the bottom being covered with water or sand to extinguish any sparks which may fall from the match.

            From The Sailors Word Book by Admiral W H Smith revised by Vice Admiral Belcher London 1867
            MATCH-TUBS Conical tube about 18 inches in height, which have a sunken head perforated with holes, to admit the slow match to hang with the lighted end downwards.

            James G

              Thank you! I had read a couple of vague descriptions that mentioned perforations or a grating, but the half cask with notches sounds like what I’m looking for. It also helps explain why the Gunner in the court martial shared by Nicholas Blake might care that the tub had been turned over and was being sat upon.

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