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'Up through the hawse hole' : the social origins and lives of salem shipmates, 1640 to 1720

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  • Ship Captains--Massachusetts--Salem
  • Salem (Mass.)--Social Conditions
  • Economics
  • History


This thesis argues that the early colonial shipmasters of Salem lived different social lives from what much of the literature has described for the master mariner under sail. Generally, they had urban rather than rural roots and came from all levels and occupations of Salem society. The relationship between shipmaster and mariner was defined by one of paternal and fraternal bonds and cut along vertical lines of community rather than along horizontal lines of class. Neither the shipmaster nor the mariner of Salem belonged to the ranks of the dispossessed, as some maritime historians have suggested, but were connected to the town socially and culturally through ties of blood and marriage. Finally, some assumptions regarding marriage patterns in Massachusetts need to be revised regarding the maritime community of Salem. Remarriage was much more common than has been previously suggested. To obtain economic support for themselves and their children, widows remarried frequently if they were of child bearing age, or they were often heavily dependent upon their adult children if older.

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