Nelson & His World

Discussion on the life and times of Admiral Lord Nelson
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 Post subject: Shore Leave
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 6:19 pm 
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Life aboard ship for an ordinary sailor was indeed a form of imprisonment; shore leave was rarely granted because of the frequency of desertion.

In 'The Star Captains' by Tom Wareham, he mentions a Captain Phillimore who devised a means of giving men shore leave without incurring too many desertions:

For example, he [Phillimore] believed strongly in the necessity of giving his crew leave on shore. He reduced the chance of desertion by making two messmates bondsmen for a third, neither of the other two getting their leave until the third had returned. It was a policy which paid dividends, as [his ship] suffered few desertions, and as a policy it appears to have made Phillimore a popular captain with his seamen.'


This seems to me a humane and sensible approach and obviously worked. Why was it not more widely adopted, I wonder. I'm sure it would have appealed to Nelson had he been made aware of it.

What was the position about a captain's authority to grant shore leave or to devise schemes such as Phillimore's? Did he have a degree of discretion about granting shore leave? Or was Phillimore testing the boundaries?

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