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Muster roll

Muster roll


Ships’ muster rolls from 1748 – 1749; Society of Merchant Venturers’ archive.
Muster roll no: 93.

Muster roll for the ship, the Scipio, sailing from Jamaica, 1747.
The Scipio was one of many merchant ships supplying the colonies with manufactured goods and foodstuffs. The crew includes Negro Othello, who had sailed on the Scipio before. He may have been a free sailor, or he may have belonged to the captain, William Rice. Another sailor, taken on for the run home to Bristol, was Cato Cathcart of Jamaica. The name Cato was often given to slaves: he may have been a freed slave, now working as a free sailor.

The muster roll is a list of all crew signed on for all or part of a voyage, which was used to calculate the money each man should pay to the Sailors’ Hospital Fund (insurance).

The Society of Merchant Venturers is a Bristol-based organisation, which was formed in 1552 as an elite body of merchants involved in overseas trade. The Society still exists today.

The language used to describe people of African descent in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries is unacceptable in today’s terms. We cannot avoid using this language in its original context. To change the words would impose 20th century attitudes on history.

Date: 1747

Copyright: Copyright The Society of Merchant Venturers

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