THE HONOURABLE EAST INDIA COMPANY SERVICE

~ GLOSSARY ~
of Abreviations and Terms.

Cable's length (distance): tenth of a nautical mile (approx 101 fathoms).
1 Fathom: 6 Feet (1.8 metres).
1 league: 3 statute miles (4.828032 km) on land or 3 Nautical miles = 3.45 land miles, (5.556 km at sea). On land it was the distance one could walk in about an hour.
Nautical miles: 1.151 miles approx. The nautical mile is based on the circumference of the Earth and is equal to one minute of latitude.


After Swifters: ropes or stays set on the outside of the main rigging to give support, especially to the masts during heavy weather.
Arrack: distilled alcoholic drink made from the sap of coconut flowers.
Bales: of cloth.
Bankshall: is a warehouse in the East Indies.
Bar: of sand etc., across river mouth.
Bateing: Lowering, letting down, depressing.
Beating: sailing as close as possible towards the wind (perhaps only about 60°) in a zig-zag course to attain an upwind direction to which it is impossible to sail directly; also known as tacking.
Bend, bent, bending: to tie, fasten or attach two ropes or lines. Also a chock on the bowsprit.
Billet wood: wood for living quarters.
Bitts: another term for a wooden or iron cleat or fastener used in securing the sail.
Bobstay: a stay which holds the bowsprit downwards, counteracting the effect of the forestay. Usually made of wire or chain to eliminate stretch.
Boheas: an area in China where black tea was obtained.
Bowsprit Shrouds: ropes extending from the head of the Bowsprit to the bow & sides of the vessel.
Bumkin: sometimes Bumpkin - an iron bar or spar projecting from the ship’s side.
Butter nut: probably butternut squash for drinking.
C&D: course & distance.
Can/Cann: Indian hemp.
Cant: the cant line is a groove between the strands of a rope or a piece of wood used in a tight space to add leveridge.
Careened: cleaning the underside of the ship of barnacles etc.
Carronade: a short smoothbore, cast iron cannon, which was used by the Royal Navy and first produced by the Carron Company in the 1770s.
Catharpining: short ropes or iron clamps used to brace in the shrouds toward the masts.
Cathead:  To prepare an anchor, after raising it by lifting it with a tackle to the cat head, prior to securing it alongside for sea. An anchor raised to the cat head is said to be catted.
Caulk: sealing crevices in deck etc.
Caulker: a filler and sealer.
Chains: Chains or Channels; Broad planks attached to the sides of a ship, projecting out to produce small platforms to spread the shrouds to a more advantageous angle and thereby giving a greater power to secure the mast.
Chaldron: bushels = 8 gallons.
Chist: a bag or chest containing items belonging to a sailer.
Chops: [of tea] sealed boxes.
Chow chow chop: last boat with small & personal items.
Cleat (Clete): a T shaped piece of metal or wood to which ropes are attached..
Cloathing the lower yards: clothing, as in securing the collars in clothing a bowsprit, and strops in rigging a lower or topsail-yard.
Clues: fastening of a small loop of rope used in attaching a sail to the masts.
Cockets: Seals belonging to the King’s Custom House or a sealed document with certificates showing that duty had been paid on the merchandise.
Coiar [coir]: A rope made from the fibre of the Coconut in Malaysia.
Comprador(e): a person who acts as an agent for foreign organizations engaged in investment, trade, or economic or political exploitation.
Congo: "chops of congo tea" were loaded onto East Indiamen at Whampoa, China for export to England.
Conn: Position for directing a ships steerage, helm etc. (Hence modern: Conning-tower on a submarine).
Cordage: rope.
Counter: the part of the stern above the waterline that extends beyond the rudder stock culminating in a small transom.
Courses down: all sails attached to lowest yards.
Crossjack: a square yard used to spread the foot of a topsail where no course is set, e.g. on the foremast of a topsail or above the driver on the mizzen mast of a ship rigged vessel.
Cuddy: a small cabin in a boat.
Cutter: small boat fitted for rowing or sailing.
D'ft: draft, depth of boat or ship.
Dawk boat: An old postal system used in Pakistan.
Dead wood: certain blocks of timber, fayed on the upper side of the keel, particular at the extremes before and abaft.
Dials: sense not known.
Disrate: to reduce in rank or rating; demote.
Divisions: Parade of Ships Crew.
Dolphin striker: a short near vertical spar under the bowsprit.
Dunnage: packing to protect cargo.
F'ms: fathoms.
False Fire: Used for signalling at sea at night. A composition which burned with a blue flame was packed into a wooden tube and when ignited would burn for several minutes.
Fearnought: a thick heavy overcoating made of wool often mixed with shoddy and that has a rough shaggy face; also a garment made of this material — called also dreadnought.
Fidded: small wooden bar attached to a small mast in the upper rigging.
Filled: a ship that is forced backward and forward by 'shivering' the sail.
Fishing/fish pieces: to repair a mast or spar with a fillet of wood.
Fleeting: Fleeting: Changing the situation of a tackle by placing the blocks further asunder.
Flints: hard stone.
Fluted the fore rigging: Meaning not sure, perhaps a form of tying and folding the rigging.
F'ded: folded.
F'wd: forward, front of ship.
Frapping: to frap, the use of rope to bind.
Furl: to roll or gather a sail against its main or spar.
Gaff: repair a mast or spar with a fillet of wood.
Gall't: gallant, a top sail.
Gammoned: the lashing of ropes.
Gang cask: a gang is a narrow platform on a deep-waisted ship leading from the quarter-deck to the forecastle. Presumably these casks were set on this gang.
Garboard strake: The garboard plank (strake) is fitted next to and rebated into the keel.
Gaff: a spar to which the head of a fore-and-aft sail is bent, a four sided fore & aft mounted sail.
Giggar: see Jigger.
Grapnals: A small anchor with several flukes.
Gunwale: Gun Whale - upper edge of side of ship.
Gig: Captain's gig: A light narrow ship’s boat generally rowed, at the disposal of the ship's captain for his use in transportation to other ships or to the shore.
Gunter: The gunter is defined as a wire that leads from one point near the end of a gaff to a point near the other end. A vessel with a gunter rigged mainsail is called a gunter rig.
Haff: a pool or lake of water that is fresh situated at the mouth of a river.
Halse/Hawse: the shaft or hole in the side of a vessel's bow through which the anchor chain passes.
Head knees: pieces of moulded compass timber fayed edgeways to the cut-water and stem, to steady the former, these are also cheek-knees.
Hand/handed: to furl a sail/furled as sail.
H C'ys: Honourable Company.
Hoppo: Chinese Customhouse Officers - overseers.
Hoy: a type of wherry, barge, bark, lighter, under the general description of river craft, used for transporting cargo to and from ship etc.
Hull down: ship almost beyond the horizon, only showing the sails.
Inclinable: favourable.
Jib: a small rectangular sail attached to a jib boom attached to the front of the ship.
Jiggermast & sails: a jiggermast is a fourth mast set at the stern of the ship and carrying triangular sails.
Jolly boat: a type of small ship's boat used to ferry personnel & small items to & from the ship.
Junk: old ropes, cables, oakum etc.
Junk: a type of slanting sail.
Jury: a temporary sail or mast, often used in an emergency.
Kedge: anchor used for warping.
Kentledge: pig-iron etc. used for ballast - "so as to avoid tilts and shifts".
Knight-heads: two large timbers, one on each side of the stem, rising up sufficiently above to support the bowsprit.
Launch: shallow draft boat.
Lazeretto: a small stowage locker at the aft end of a boat, sometimes used as a quarantine.
Leadsman: A sailor who takes soundings with a lead.
Leech lining: a side cloth of a topsail cut obliquely, or lining of a topsail, called by sailmakers the leech-lining.
Letters of Marque: A Government licence given to the owners of private ships during the time of war, commissioning them to attack and seize the ships or property of the enemy.
Lights: lightning.
Lighters: Flat bottomed boats used for transporting cargo to a wharf, see under 'Hoy'.
Limber: detachable gun carriage.
Lumber: timber sawn into planks.
Lumper: labourer for unloading cargo.
Martingale: lower stay of rope used to sustain strain of the forestays.
Mats, Matts: a thick web of rope yarn used to protect the standing rigging from the friction of other ropes.
Mechanics: Tradesmen.
Messenger: An endless rope or chain passing from the capstan to the cable to haul it in.
Miz: mizzen; the third and smallest mast.
Mizzen Channel: the channel is the plank that forms the horizontal part of the chains.
Mizzling: thick mist or fine rain.
Muller: used for grinding paint colours.
Mungeet: The Bengal Madder or Munjeet, a plant whose roots are used for dyeing.
Nankeen: also called Nankeen cloth, is a kind of pale yellowish cloth, originally made at Nanjing, China from a yellow variety of cottoncloth.
Nipper: short rope used to bind a cable to the moving line propelled by the capstan.
Oakum: used for sealing crevices in deck etc.
Offing: a position at a distance from shore.
Owers Light: off Selsley Bill.
Paddy: Rice with the husk or in the Straw.
Parrel: a rope loop or sliding collar by which a yard or spar is held to a mast.
Paying: filling a seam with caulking or pitch.
Pendante: A length of wire or rope secured at one end to a mast or spar and having a block or other fitting at the lower end.
People: a description given to the crew by the Captain.
Pipes: Casks or Butts.
Preventer: a rope used for additional support as in brace.
Protection: a document held by the Captain as a protection against the Royal Navy impressing crew members but often ignored.
Pulo/Pulao: an island.
Puddening: Fibres of old rope packed between spars, protecting the rings of the anchors by wrapping them or used as fender.
Quoins: Tapered blocks, probably used to prevent guns and barrels from moving.
Rafting: Coneying goods by floating, as by raft-chains, lashings, &c.
Rattan: Tough stems of palms used for wickerwork, canes, sticks etc.
Rattlin/rattling: Ratlines pronounced Rattlins - found on all square rigged ships to aid in repairs aloft.
Reg'g: replacing.
Reeving: threading a line through blocks (& tackle).
Rep'r: repairing.
Requisite: required by circumstances.
Riders: timbers used to secure part of a vessel which has become weak.
Roads: The term Roads (short for roadstead) indicates the safety of a port; as applied to a body of water, it is a partly sheltered area of water near a shore in which vessels may ride at anchor".
Ropeband: small plaited lines rove through the eyelet holes with a running eye used to fasten the head of the sail to the spar.
Rouse: haul by force.
Rowed/row/road guard: communicating by flag.
Salt petre, beating of: meaning not known.
Scuttle: a small opening, or lid thereof, in a ship's deck or hull.
Serang: a native captain of a crew of sailors in the East Indies.
Shift: change or alter.
Shivering: to trim a ship's yards so that the wind strikes on the edges of the sails making them flutter in the wind.
Shockbury: Shoeburyness.
S'l/Sig'l: signal.
Sinnet & Spun yarn: to do with rope making.
Skysails: A sail set very high, above the royals. Only carried by a few ships.
Smoaked: as in "cleaned and smoaked the gun deck = fumigating gun deck.
Spanker: A full-rigged ship has a spanker sail aft but not a spanker-mast.
Spoke: an action - not sure of context in this case.
Spring, sprung: split or cracked.
Spritsail: is a four sided sail usually laced on to the mast along its luff. It can range from almost square to having a pronounced peak. It may or may not have a boom, but it will always have a sprit. A sprit is a spar which supports the peak of the sail.
Srapped: the spare topmasts, yards &c. are secured by being srapped and belayed to prevent the booms shifting.
Standing: the fixed part of rigging that support the masts.
Stave: A narrow strip of wood forming part of the sides of a barrel.
Stayed: secure with stays.
Steerage: Section of a ship for inexpensive accommodation with no individual cabins.
Stem: the extension of keel at the forward end of a ship.
Stilt: Not known in this sense.
Stou: an old form of stow - "stou, make fast & belay".
Stream 'anchor': A light anchor for use with a bower in narrow waterways.
Studding Gear / Sails: Long and narrow sails, used only in fine weather, on the outside of the large square sails.
Sun: Sunn-hemp – Indian Hemp.
Sway: to move or hoist.
Swayed: moved.
Sweep: part of the curvature or mould of the ship or a semi circular frame on which the tiller traverses.
Swifters: a pair of shrouds fixed above the other shrouds for swifting or stiffening a mast.
Syrang: An official in India, someone in charge of a harbour craft.
Tierces: casks or crates.
Tindal: a petty officer among lascars, or native East Indian sailors; a boatswain's mate.
Traveller: a small sliding fitting for inboard end of main sheet.
Trimming: preparation for sailing.
Trestle-tree: two pieces of timber, horizontally fore & aft on opposite sides of the mast-head to support the cross-trees & the top and heel of a top mast above.
Trussel: a furled sail.
Turned: the action, in this case, of punishment such as being tied to the mast.
Twanky Tea: an inferior grade of green tea.
Trow: a small river sailing craft, much used on the river Severn.
Twined: the act of tying a man of object to the mast.
Unbent: detached.
Under bare poles: with all sails furled because of high winds.
V'ble: variable.
Wads: made from old cloth or rope in barrel of cannon.
Waist: the central deck of a ship between the forecastle and the quarterdeck.
Waist anchors: spare anchors for use in emergency.
Warping: moving ship from one place to another.
Waughers: Meaning not traced but in this case may be a variant of wafer as in wafer-thin Mother of Pearl.
Water Ways: certain deck-planks which are wrought next to timbers; they serve to connect the sides of a ship to her decks.
W'r: weather.
Weigh: raise anchor before sailing.
Wearing ship: tacking away from the wind in a square-rigged vessel.
Whiskers: spreaders from the bows to spread the bowsprit.
Woolding: the act of winding or wrapping anything with a rope.
Wore ship: is a past tense form of "wear ship": to turn away from the wind.
Yawl: A rowboat on davits at the stern of the ship.