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date: 30 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In the Age of Sail, boys were an integral part of sealife, comprising a significant proportion of the crews of both merchant and military vessels. In the latter, they performed both as junior officers (midshipmen) and as common seamen and marine boys. Sailing a square-rigged vessel of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries took many years to master, and training from childhood or adolescence was seen as imperative. Although many other European navies also carried a large complement of boys, this chapter focuses on the British Royal Navy in the latter half of the eighteenth to early nineteenth centuries. An historic overview of boys in the Navy is given, but this chapter will concentrate on the osteological evidence for children and adolescents, and how early exposure to a very specific lifestyle is reflected in the skeletons from three English Royal Navy hospital burial grounds.

Keywords: Royal Navy, boys, adolescents, cemetery, eighteenth century, nineteenth century, osteoarchaeology, trauma, diet

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