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ROPEYARD WORKERS AT HAMOAZE - MICHELMAS 1720

 

This list constituted the payroll of the men involved in the  rope-making activity in the Admiralty's Dockyard at Plymouth for the 3rd Quarter of 1720.

 

The (civilian) Clerk of the Ropeyard (at Woolwich, Chatham, Portsmouth and Plymouth): recruited the men, and received and issued stores. This well-paid position, netting £100 per annum, and including a good house on the dockyard site, was abollished in the early 1800s  in favour of the appointment of a commissioned naval officer to oversee the ropeyard.

 

The (civilian) Master Ropemaker was  responsible for the workmen and and for the day-to-day running of the Rope Works. This post was also abolished  and control vested in Naval personnel but at this time, he also received £100 per annum.

 

The Contractor was responsible for supplying materials and for the cost-effectiveness of the business.

 

Map showing the position of the ropewalks within the Dockyard

Building of the Admiralty Dockyard at Plymouth began in 1689, some 31 years before the payroll below was drawn up.  This map dates from 1877 but shows most of the original features. The position of the two ropewalks (East and West) is outlined in blue with the Dockyard wall to the rear and the Mast Pond* in front, indicating that sail has not yet given way to steam.

*Timbers were seasoned in the Mast Pond. They were sunk to the bottom of the water then allowed to dry slowly to prevent them splitting.

 

NB These job titles are explained below
Peter Appleby
Spinner
John Asutin
Spinner
Thomas Bastard
Spinner
John Batten
Winder
John Bawden
Spinner
John Beard
Hatcheler
William Botler
Spinner
Thomas Bottom
Spinner
Ben Brooking
Spinner
William Buttler
Labourer
Augustin Carpenter
Hatcheler
Edward Chaulkner
Labourer
John Collyer
Contractor
Robert Courtney
Spinner
Andrew Cradock
Spinner
Henry Cradock
Spinner
William Dale
Spinner
Robert Dawe
Winder
Richard Daws
Winder
William Drake
Spinner
Richard Edisbury
Clerk of the Ropeyard
William Foot
Labourer
John Fowler
Spinner
Thomas Gill
Labourer
Nicholas Gillard
Labourer
Giles Gilson
Hatcheler
Richard Gold
Spinner
Anthony Hansley
Spinner
George Harris
Labourer
Phillip Harris (1)
Spinner
Phillip Harris (2)
Spinner
James Hart
Boy
Sam. Hearle
Spinner
? Hengiscombe ("is not appeared")
Spinner
Richard Hodge
Hatcheler
George Hodges
Spinner
Henry Hodges
Spinner and Tar heater
Thomas Hooper
Hatcheler
John Hughes
Spinner
William Inch
Hatcheler
John Jane
Spinner
Ben Jones
Spinner
Joseph Legassick
Clerk
Thomas Linzee
Master Ropemaker
Thomas Luke
Labourer
William Luse
Hatcheler
Nicholas Manfield
Spinner
Edward May
Spinner
Gregory Miller
Spinner
John Parsons
Spinner
Matthew Parsons
Spinner
Thomas Parsons
Spinner
John Patrick
Spinner
Nicholas Peters
Spinner
Griff Powell
Spinner
Richard Read
Spinner
John Rogers
Spinner
William Rounsevall
Boy
Digby Row
Spinner
William Row
Harcheler
Clement Rundle
Spinner
Sam. Sambell
Spinner
Thomas Sambell
Labourer
Henry Sansome
Spinner
Arthur Shaftoe
Spinner
Thomas Sherman
Spinner
John Stettaford
Spinner
Thomas Stevens
Labourer
Thomas Stevens
Boy
Edward Swan
Spinner and Tar heater
Nehemia Thomas
Spinner
Richard Tregoweth
Spinner
John Vine
Winder
Richard Wood
Foreman
Christopher Wootton
Spinner
William Yeomans
Spinner

 

Hemp, Manila and Sisal are all fibres used by the Admiralty for making rope. In the 18th Century ropeworks, the HATCHELER cleaned and straightened  the chosen fibre by pulling it through a boards covered with metal spikes called a hatchel (see right). Whale oil was added at this stage as lubrication to make the task of the Spinners easier.
A Hatchel used in rope making
A SPINNER at work in the ropewalk
The SPINNER then took these fibres and spun them together by hand. As the spinning wheel rotated, the spinner walker backwards, pulling the fibres so they came together to form yarn. A long length of rope required there to be a long workshop. No figures are available for Plymouth but the Chatham Ropewalk is 1128 feet long, producing a rope measuring 120 fathoms (220 metres).
Spun strands of fibre were placed in the FORMING MACHINE which ran the entire length of the ropewalk. 
A FINISHING MACHINE used in ropemaking
The TAR HEATERS warmed up pine pitch for the BOYS who painted the rope with hot tar to increase its water-proofing.

The LABOURERS were needed to move materials in and the completed product out.

The CLERK was responsible for keeping the accounts and paying out as required.

The Royal Navy began the mechanisation process in 1811; steam power was added in the early 1830s and electricity was introduced at the turn of the 20th century.

 

 

 

 
 
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