Friday, June 15, 2018

Margarette Lincoln's "Trading in War"

Margarette Lincoln is Research Fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Curator Emeritus at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Trading in War: London’s Maritime World in the Age of Cook and Nelson, and reported the following:
On page 99, customs official, Joseph Pierson, is bludgeoned by a smuggling gang in Deptford, London. It’s 1775, and smuggling from East Indiamen anchored in the River Thames is practically a full-time job for some people. The revenue men are the hated enemy.

“Afterwards, Pierson was taken by boat to the London Hospital. His skull was exposed and beaten in, his chest mangled, and his right arm so badly broken that it had to be laid open to the shoulder.”

Although Pierson’s wife was allowed to nurse him in hospital, he died from his injuries a month later. Members of the gang were pursued and some were brought to justice. The famous Smugglerius, flayed by the surgeon William Hunter and arranged to imitate the position of The Dying Gaul, was thought to have been prepared from the body of one gang member, hanged at Tyburn. He had the muscle formation of a river worker, developed through hard, physical labour.

It was stories like this that got me interested in the riverside life of eighteenth-century London, a topic which has been so often overlooked. These maritime communities were essential to Britain’s war effort, and they also played a key part in preparing ships for voyages of exploration. While some people along the river were undoubtedly engaged in illicit activity, most were employed in roles that were vital for the maintenance of the Royal Navy and the British economy, then heavily dependent on foreign trade. What’s more, as the book shows, women also had vital roles to play in these turbulent times.
Learn more about Trading in War at the Yale University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue