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The Royal Navy's employment of black mariners and maritime workers, 1754-1783
International Journal of Maritime History (2016)
  • Charles R. Foy
The Royal Navy has been portrayed as an institution that embodied liberty, regularly
employing and relying upon blacks to keep its vessels afloat and to implement Britain's
blue water policy. Despite the critical role black naval seamen played, their employment
was shaped more by regional practices than by Admiralty edicts. The result was that blacks
were often treated inequitably. Black seamen had less access to pension benefits and
were not promoted in the same numbers as working-class white seamen. In England and
New York, blacks were largely kept out of royal dockyards and received less favourable
compensation than whites. In contrast, while blacks were employed in great numbers in
the slave-based economies of Antigua and Senegambia, they were largely barred from
highly skilled maritime artisan work. In sum, blacks' experiences in the Royal Navy were
varied and were more influenced by local conditions than by edicts from London.
  • Atlantic history,
  • black mariners,
  • employment discrimination,
  • naval dockyards,
  • naval history
Publication Date
IO.l l 77 /0843871415616922
Citation Information
Charles R. Foy. "The Royal Navy's employment of black mariners and maritime workers, 1754-1783" International Journal of Maritime History Vol. 28 Iss. 1 (2016) p. 6 - 35
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