The above cartoon from 1811 by the British publisher and bookseller Thomas Tegg (1776-1846) makes fun of the British sailors’ fondness for drinking. ‘Jack’ is shown in his hammock, surrounded by bottles of grog. National Maritime Museum: PAF4157
Providing the necessary food and drink for thousands of men in naval ships was a permanent headache for the Admiralty and the issues they faced rolled with the seasons. One of the problems they faced was that the need to produce and stockpile victuals never disappeared and yet the ability to produce and stockpile quality victuals changed with the seasons – particularly for beer which tended to spoil quickly and easily if brewed in the heat of summer. This letter, from the Victualling Board to the Admiralty secretary, written in the depths of winter but with an eye to the victualling problems that the summer would pose in 1748, presents for the first time an idea of using ships of the Ordinary to stow beer brewed at the ideal time – in winter and spring. It is also an interesting letter as it shows a clear example of good and effective communication between the Admiralty and the Victualling Board. This was not always the case – but in the winter of 1747, it was.