Flogging Data from HMS Magnificent (1806-1815)

 

Table Showing Data about Floggings taking place on-board HMS MAGNIFICENT (1806-1815)
Data extracted from (complete) ship's logbooks (National Archives Refs. ADM 53/830-832), double-checked & analysed by Thomas C T Spinks
           
YEAR Yearly No. of “Flogging Days” TOTAL YEARLY No. FLOGGINGS TOTAL YEARLY No. of LASHES INFLICTED AVERAGE No. of LASHES PER FLOGGING EXTRA / RESEARCH NOTES
1806 ^ 6 19 271 14.26 Newly built ship. Put into commission & log begins on 30 September 1806.
1807 51 205 3410 16.63  
1808 30 146 3361 23.02 Includes two floggings (on one day) from Captain's Log omitted in ship's log.
1809 25 147 3443 23.42 Wed 13tn–Sun 24th Dec. 1809 (incl.) missing from ship's log; however, Captain Eyre's log strongly indicates that NO floggings happened during this period.
1810 29 159 3882 24.42  
1811 30 237 5727 24.16  
1812 24 104 2036 19.77 Average not including one flogging where no. of lashes is illegible.
1813 32 65 1114 19.21 Average NOT including four floggings where no. of lashes is either illegible or blank (two were Boys) and the 3 men “Flogged round the Fleet” on 27th May.
1814 21 46 1176 25.57 Incredibly, during the first 7½ months of 1814 only 12 floggings were done on five “flogging days” – 34 took place from 25th August to end of year.
1815 ^ 12 23 582 25.30 Ship put out of commission and log ends 8th August 1815.
TOTALS 260 1151 25002 21.72  
AVERAGES ^ 30.25 138.63 3018.63 21.78 ^ EXCLUDING 1806 & 1815 – which are both incomplete years.
           

Note 1: If the 3 crewmen flogged through the fleet, whose combined total no. of lashes amounted to 414, were included in 1813's data, this would give an average no. of lashes per flogging that year (from 61 legible entries) of 25.05 lashes.

 

The table shows that the most floggings carried out on board HMS Magnificent - and the greatest number of lashes - in a single year happened in 1811; this comfortably exceeds the next most 'eventful' year – 1807 – by some 32 floggings and the next highest in terms of lashes handed out – 1810 – by a whopping 1,848 lashes! The mean (average) number of lashes in 1810, however, was slightly higher - 24.42, compared to 24.18 in 1811; though this data is not strictly relevant, since a man could not be given "part" of a lash, and both of these figures rounded to the closest integer are identical – 24 lashes. (This number is not surprising since two dozen appears to have been the standard sentence for the majority of offences, e.g. drunkenness, and indeed also proved to be the modal figure.)

 

It can also be clearly seen that the average no. of lashes increased year on year, under Captain Eyre (who resigned his command in early 1812 on ship's return to England from the Med.), from just 14.3 lashes average per flogging in the first three months of the ship's commission (1806), up to 16.6 for the whole of 1807, then to almost exactly 23 lashes in 1808, around 23.5 in 1809, till it reached its peak during 1810 & 1811, which averaged at 24.4 & 24.2 average lashes per flogging, respectively.

It appears that following Captain Lake's appointment to the command (and indeed Captain Hayes' temporary command from August 1812 to early January 1813), that the harsh flogging regime was abolished. The numbers speak for themselves: 237 floggings in 1811 compared with 104 in 1812 – over 50% less, and only 65 in 1813 – that's just a shade over a quarter of 1811's figure.

By 1814 the flogging rate had reached an incredibly low level. Maybe this was due to the long war with Napoleon having  finally been won, and the officers and men were in such good spirits that they decided to be kinder/better behaved?! However, upon sailing to the West Indies with a convoy - and an  almost entirely new set of Marines, and a few new seamen - indiscipline flared up aboard Magnificent again, and Captain Lake had to resort to the lash on 34 occasions within four months - as compared to just twelve in the first seven and a half months of 1814. On the whole his regime seems milder, although those he did punish usually got quite a heavy sentence, averaging 25 lashes. 

 

 

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23.02 | 20:25

Brilliant account; brilliantly researched.
They that go down to the sea in ships,
That do business in great waters;
He quiets the night and ebbs the tide... :

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