From: Kings Lynn UK
Suprisingly the RN uniform is relatively new in concept.
Before 1857, it had been the practice to sell 'slop' or ready made clothing to seamen on board HM Ships. This clothing lacked uniformity and its fashion and colour varied with the period and whim of the contractor. In the reign of Queen Anne for instance, seamen tended to be dressed in red and grey but by the middle of the eighteenth century blue had become the commonest colour.This came about as only indigo based dyes offered a reasonable degree of colour fastness to sunlight and wear at a time when the range of available dyes was limited and when adequate means of assessing colour fastness did not exist. Now, indigo, which is extracted from a topical plant, appeared in the UK as trade with India expanded in the eighteenth century and it is no coincidence that this is when blue uniforms became the most common - replacing a motley collection of colours and shades in use before then.
During the French Revolutionary wars from 1778 to 1815, commanding officers began to pay more attention to their men's' clothing requirements and by 1800 it was common for ships companies to be mustered at divisions 'all in blue' or 'all in white' so giving a fair degree of uniformity between ships as the men made their clothes from the 'standard' blue, white or 'fancy' cloth sold by the Pusser. (The latter might be tartan, check, gingham etc. and all have been worn at sea at some stage).The Pusser being Naval slang for the Royal NAvy.There was still plenty of room for variations, however, and in the 1830s the captain of HMS Vernon ordered his seamen to wear red serge frocks and comforters. After some time in commission the stock ran out and red garments were then allocated to the port watch, the starboard wearing blue (not green which was significantly more difficult and thus expensive to dye). The captain of HMS Blazer ordered his men to wear blue and white striped Guernsey's and the captain of HMS Trincomalee followed with red shirts and 'fancy' hats. Most eccentric of all was Captain Wilmott of HMS Harlequin who, as recently as 1853, paid for his boat's crew to be dressed as harlequins. This attracted ribald comments from the press and, no doubt, his boat's crew and may have prompted the Admiralty to issue its circular on ratings uniform in 1857.Since 1859 the sailor's uniform has undergone a number of changes, perhaps the most surprising being the removal of the blue jacket, which had given rise to the nickname 'bluejacket' for a sailor, in 1890. At the same time the 'frock', which used to be tucked into the trousers, gave way to the 'jumper' which was not. CPOs and first-class POs moved into fore and aft rig from 1859 onwards.
Ships names on the Cap Tallies was an aid when fighting in a Boarding party and also to identify the Name of the Ship the sailor belonged to,esp Sea boats crew which were a direct refelction on the ship and Its Captain.
< Message edited by andym -- 3/27/2008 11:11:45 PM >
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