Articles of Agreement, undated ca. 1837, between the Master, Seamen and Mariners of the Brig Smyrna of Providence ( R.I.) whereof John S. Perry is Master, bound from the Port of Boston to the Turks Island then to New Orleans back to a port of discharge in the United States. 16 ½ x 21. One side has the agreed terms and the list of seaman ( three of the seven seaman are listed as deserted). Though not dated , based upon other records, John Perry was the Master of the Smyrna in 1837. The reverse has the enacted law regarding the articles of agreement.
The Smyrna was a brig that served as an immigrant ship, however the voyage to the Turks Island was probably more likely to pick up salt, which was a major product of the island. Salt was especially important to the shipping industry, which fed its sailors on salt pork, salt beef and salt fish. The best salt meat was packed in barrels of the granules–though it could also be boiled in seawater, resulting in a far inferior product that, thanks to the scarcity of fresh water aboard wooden sailing ships, was then often cooked in brine as well, reaching the sailors as a broth so hideously salty that crystals formed on the sides of their bowls. The demand for salt to preserve fish was so vast that the Newfoundland cod fishery alone needed 25,000 tons of the stuff a year.
Ship's articles (more formally the ship's articles of agreement) is the set of documents that constitute the contract between the seamen and the captain (master) of a vessel. They specify the name of the ship, the conditions of employment (including the size and ratings of the intended complement), seamen's compensation (shares or payments), the nature of the voyage(s) and duration, and the regulations to be observed aboard ship and in port, including punishable offenses and punishments. Seaman were required to sign the articles, and the articles include for each seaman, his rating, the place and the day of signing on and the place and the date of signing off of the ship.
Articles of Agreement are somewhat scarce. Much of the document has splitting along the major fold lines, though has been sparingly repaired with clear archival document repair tape, and does not distract or hamper in the display or legibility. Trma071