Able Seawoman Nancy Perriam

Discussion in '1800-1914' started by Njaco, Nov 17, 2007.

  1. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Feb 19, 2007
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    Animal Control Officer
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    Found a passage in a magazine about a woman onboard ship when Nelson won the Nile. Alittle checking and this is what I found. Interesting.


    Collections - Exmouth Museum - Devon Museums Net

    Sea and Learn – Lesson Plan: Women in the Royal Navy

    Battle of Cape St. Vincent: Snippets of others at the Battle

    THERE IS A PERSISTENT MYTH that war has always been an all-male affair and that women in combat zones, whatever their activities, were "civilians" and not "warriors." This becomes a confusing distinction in practice, because men and women under fire often do the same things. It is particularly confusing in the case of naval warfare, because at sea everyone aboard - male or female, gunner, carpenter, or nurse - is quite literally in the same boat. When a ship is fired upon, everyone aboard is at war. In the past, some of the women aboard warships were civilians; others had an official rating. When ships saw action, some women in both categories were assets and others liabilities. Exactly the same thing may be said of the males aboard.

    When a ship saw action, all women aboard appear to have been put to useful work. Nancy Perriam, one of the few navy women to have left a written record, gives a rare glimpse into women's activity while the ship was under fire. Powder Monkey Ann (Nancy) Perriam born in Littleham Exmouth fought in the battles of L'Orient 1795, Cape St. Vincent 1795, the Nile 1798 under Rear Admiral Sir James Saumarez and Admirals Bridport, Lord Jarvis and Lord Nelson. Nancy Perriam served aboard the Orion as a servant.

    She served with her husband aboard H.M.S. Orion, and her function was "to make and mend the captain's clothes." On February 14, 1797, she recalled, she had begun work on a flannel shirt when she heard the rumble of guns. Battle had been joined with a French ship off Cape St. Vincent. She immediately put down her sewing and began carrying gunpowder instead. When she was no longer needed at that post, she went down to the cockpit to help the surgeon. A year later, she followed the same pattern at the Battle of the Nile. A seaman at that battle who was assigned to a station below decks later stated, "I saw little of this action. Any information we got was from the boys and women who carried the powder . . . I was much indebted to the Gunner's wife, who gave her husband and me a drink of wine now and then, which lessened our fatigue much." As before, Nancy Perriam ended up in the cockpit. She especially remembered the bravery of a young midshipman, whose arm was taken out of its socket. "The boy bore the operations without a murmur," she wrote, "and when it was over turned to me and said, 'Have I not borne it like a man?' Having said this he immediately expired."

    Nancy Perriam is one of only four woman awarded a pension, by the Navy, of £10 a year. Nancy died in Exmouth aged 93 years.

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