Sailors_national_and_international_labou

Sailors_national_and_international_labou - CHAPTER THIRTEEN...

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CHAPTER THIRTEEN SAILORS, NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL LABOUR MARKETS AND NATIONAL IDENTITY, 1600–1850 Jelle van Lottum, Jan Lucassen and Lex Heerma van Voss On 15 June, 1667, the Abraham’s Sacrifice , a Genoese merchantman, was taken by an English frigate some 45 miles from Blackrock near Galway in Ireland. The ship had sailed from Genoa to Amsterdam with a cargo of wine, wool and salt, and was returning to Genoa with cinnamon, pepper, iron, lead, logwood, ebony, Brazilwood, whalebone, tar and brass. The captain, Antonio of Genoa, had perhaps opted for the unusual route around Scotland and Ireland out of fear that the ship might get caught in a battle between the English and the Dutch navies which were fighting the Second Anglo-Dutch War. 1 In fact, that same day the Dutch were already returning from a successful raid on the Medway, having decided the war in their favour, but this cannot yet have been known off the west coast of Ireland. The state of war was directly reflected in the composition of the crew of the Abraham’s Sacrifice , which included seven English and nine Dutch sailors. Most, if not all of the Englishmen had been taken pris- oner by the Dutch earlier in the war. Lawrence Man from Dartmouth and Anthony Laghorne from Truro in Cornwall later, when questioned by the English authorities, declared that they had escaped from the Dutch before they mustered on the Abraham’s Sacrifice , at Texel and in Amsterdam respectively. Another English national, Luke Merritt from Jersey, simply declared that “being a prisoner in Amsterdam, about the beginning of December last, he was there Enterteijned bij the Cap t : Antonio of Genoa, Comander of the shipp Abrahams Offering of Genoa [. . .] to saijle in the said shipp as a Marriner at the rate of twentij Gilders per month.” The large number of Englishmen 1 TNA, HCA 32/8 II. The Englishmen declared that they had expected the ship to take what one of them, John Pomerij, called “the direct waij”: through the Channel. They believed captain Antonio to have a passport from the Duke of York, the com- mander of the English fleet, allowing him to sail that route.
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310 jelle van lottum, jan lucassen and lex heerma van voss on board the Abraham’s Sacrifice seems to suggest that the Dutch allowed Captain Antonio to hire prisoners. 2 It seems unlikely that all of them escaped and found their way separately to the Genoese ship, which was furthermore mainly manned by Dutch sailors who must have known that the Englishmen were former prisoners of war. Nationality came to the fore when an English man-of-war was sighted. Captain Antonio ordered his crew to prepare for a fight. One of the Englishmen, Joseph Bluett, “told him that he was not willing to fight against his own nation.” Antonio answered that he would not resist a ship of the English king, but that he would fight a privateer.
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