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View Full Version : What cargo & crew would an average 1600's trans-Atlantic ship have?


been lurking
03-20-2008, 11:12 AM
Say it's 1620, I get royal permission to set up a colony in the New World. I only hve enough money for one ship. What would I bring with me? Would I want young families to immediately help populate the area? Young men to build / defend the area? Single women to marry off to the young men?

What about supplies? I'd assume I'd have enough animals to make it through the first winter, and some crops to plant the first spring, as well as food for the voyage. What else would be brought? What would the families bring?

Pretty much anything to make the trip work.

Paul in Qatar
03-20-2008, 11:44 AM
In the early-modern period industry made stuff in drabs. Therefore we would be looking at lots of little crates and barrels with tiny amounts of stuff.

I suppose some good guesses would be:
gunpowder
muskets
bulk lead
a cannon
hoes
ploughs (or plows, depending)
horses
cows
nails
hand tools
axes
trade goods

BrainGlutton
03-20-2008, 11:54 AM
Twenty young Wild Geese fully fledged to fly. (http://www.lyricsdir.com/joan-baez-lowlands-lyrics.html)

Elendil's Heir
03-20-2008, 02:44 PM
On at least the first trip, before you knew for sure whether or not the colony was going to take root, you'd probably have a much higher ratio of men to women. If the area of your intended colony was completely unexplored and you're just leaping into the dark, you'd probably take a lot more in the way of foodstuffs, live animals and seeds. Otherwise, not so much. To Paul in Saudi's excellent Ye Olde Colonie-Planting Shoppyng List, I'd add swords, daggers and polearms (like halberds).

xnylder
03-20-2008, 04:32 PM
In terms of people, you could bring 189 passengers, including 33 families and 25 single men. The Good Ship Hector (http://www.townofpictou.com/hector_story.html) sailed in 1773, but I thought you might still be interested because there's an impressive amount of data available about the voyage and colony. If you're ever in Pictou, you can even tour a reproduction of the ship.

Captain Amazing
03-20-2008, 04:57 PM
Here's a description of the Mayflower's cargo manifest. The Mayflower carried 130 passengers.

http://www.fullbooks.com/The-Mayflower-and-Her-Log-v5.html

Una Persson
03-20-2008, 06:01 PM
You may find this interesting, about the Sea Venture, the first ship reputedly designed specifically for emigration.

Interesting historical sidebar - not one but two of my ancestors, from totally different parts of the family tree, were on it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Venture

Triskadecamus
03-20-2008, 07:28 PM
From here: (http://www.shgresources.com/va/symbols/fleet/) Roughly 400 years ago, on December 20, 1606, three merchant ships loaded with passengers and cargo embarked from England on a voyage that would later set the course of American history.
The Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery reached Virginia in the spring of 1607, and on May 14, their 104 passengers all men and boys began building on the banks of the James River what was to be America's first permanent English colony, predating Plymouth in Massachusetts by 13 years.

The Discovery, the smallest of the three remained in the new world, while the other ships returned to England, to obtain supplies and other colonists.

Archeological digs in 1994 found the original fort, long thought to have been washed away by the James River. Description by the chief of that dig reports: They've found musket balls, medicine jars, shoe leather and equipment for making beer. They came across a ring with an inscription, in 17-century spelling: "Deale Trvly." The settlers brought everything from farming tools to fine china.

Tris

been lurking
03-20-2008, 07:29 PM
Thanks. Thats all the kind of stuff I was looking for.

postcards
03-20-2008, 08:16 PM
Thanks. Thats all the kind of stuff I was looking for.
:dubious:

Did all these fine folks just do your homework?

been lurking
03-20-2008, 08:18 PM
:dubious:

Did all these fine folks just do your homework?

No, not homework, just curious. Is there a problem with that?

Lazlo
03-21-2008, 05:55 AM
You may find this interesting, about the Sea Venture, the first ship reputedly designed specifically for emigration.

Interesting historical sidebar - not one but two of my ancestors, from totally different parts of the family tree, were on it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Venture

Thanks for the link, Una, that was quite interesting. I'm simply amazed that the crew and passengers were able to build two new ships and rescue themselves.

Una Persson
03-25-2008, 04:45 PM
Thanks for the link, Una, that was quite interesting. I'm simply amazed that the crew and passengers were able to build two new ships and rescue themselves.
There are more details out there on the ship, and about the time the castaways spent on Bermuda. Apparently although the ship's crew worked together really well, there were some problems. But overall, these folks were able to succeed because the ship carried skilled craftsmen and a lot of tools on board, as opposed to "average folks." It was absolutely an ideal situation, if ever one was shipwrecked in the 1600's.

However, I'm not certain to what extent my ancestors helped - one was a member of low nobility along for a ride, the other a cook.

ETA: The Baron De La Warre mentioned in the Wikipedia article is another ancestor of mine, as well as 4-5 members of the Jamestown residents. It's odd that so many came together at the same place.

Will Repair
03-25-2008, 07:06 PM
As Cecil would say, dont forget to bring enough beer (http://www.straightdope.com/columns/051125.html).