Surgeons at Sea

Royal Navy Medical Officers' journals at the National Archives.

"The journals include a variety of colourful tales of 18th and 19th century ship life, from drunken rum-related incidents, venereal disease, scurvy, shark bites and tarantulas, to lightning strikes, gun fights, mutiny, arrests and court martial - not to mention ship wrecks and even murder."

This is a great digital resource for medical information in the Royal Navy!

New resource for the PotC fandom

Hello everyone! I'd like to inform that on my second journal,the_hold or The Black Pearl's Hold, I'll be gathering links to information resources (mostly historical), galleries, archives and so on, everything what can be helpful for PotC fandom (and other Age of Sails fandoms, I hope). There's a bit of nice swag already. You are all welcome!

Pirate roll call

Hey, does anybody know which pirate is which in Jack's crew in the first film? I know they all have canon names because they're named in the credits, but I have no idea which names go with which pirates (except the ones named in the dialogue like Anamaria, Marty and Cotton).

A bit about kids....

 Seeing as a lot of us find ourselves writing about kids, it might be helpful to discuss a bit about how children lived and were seen in the period. (Suffice to say that it's not Disneyfied....)

A bit of an introduction...... however, to really get into the subject, I think it's probably best to rec 'The Invention of Childhood', by Michael Morpurgo (recently serialised on BBC Radio 7). Amanda Vickery's 'A History of Private Life' may well be helpful as well- also useful if you want to write about any character in a conventional domestic/married situation.

(This stuff might need a new tag.... Childhood & Education? Family & Domesticity?)


I came across the unusual punishment of the bilboes in an article in Early American Life magazine, which was described as frequently used on ships to restrain sailors. Looking for more information I found this link which says:

The Bilboe was a form of shackle used from the 16th Century onward till at least the end of the Golden Age of Piracy. Despite being a shackle, it has more in common with The Stocks than Handcuffs, and arguably borders on torture.

In form the bilboe was a long iron bar, with two sliding cuffs attached. Rather than being placed on the hands, it was most often attached to the feet. Padlocks then secured the cuffs in place. The result was painful immobilization. If you were bilboed standing up, you'd be incapable of walking or sitting on your own power. At best you could flop over onto the ground and crawl around using your arms, as the heavy metal bar and tight clamps made hopping impractical and excruciating.

Sometimes that level of immobilization just wasn't enough. In that case, the Bilboe could itself be chained or locked to the floor, forcing you to stand very still for a very long time. Alternately, it could be attached to a wall or pillar. "Laying by the heels in the bilboes" meant that the bilboe was hung well above ground level, so that you were immobilized on your back or belly with your feet in the air.

Illustration of "laying by the heels"