Monday, 20 December 2010

Maritime Monday: From Train Driver to Ship's Stoker

When I was little, most small boys dreamed of becoming a train driver.  And in the 1851 census of Charleton, Devon, my great great grandfather, Henry DAMARELL, aged 17, was just that.  For the next twenty years, he was a merchant seaman, and later combined his skills to become a stoker on a steam ship.

In the middle of this, in the 1881 census, he is listed as a Marrene [sic] Store Dealer.  He must have kept his connections with the port of Southampton, for several of his grandchildren were born there, and his daughter Bertha was married there in 1879 (to my direct ancestor William John BALL).

What is a Marine Store Dealer?  The occupation is varied: "A Marine Store Dealer was a licensed broker who bought and sold used cordage, bunting, rags, timber, metal and other general waste materials. He usually sorted the purchased waste by kind, grade etc. He also repaired and mended sacks etc.

Marine Store Dealers were governed by an Act of Parliament 1st. Geo. IV. sec.16 cap.75. Which enacted that every marine-store-dealer shall have his name inserted in legible characters over his shop-door and shall also keep a book in which he shall insert the name and address of any person from whom he shall buy any article.

Apparently Marine Store Dealers were also not allowed to buy full lengths of rope. A search of the "Times" archive brings up many references to them and nearly all were in relation to police courts. In Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" is Joe, a marine store dealer and receiver of stolen goods." [quoted in Rootschat.com]

A less-polite website indicates that a marine store dealer was pretty much a scrap merchant or rag-and-bone man, and that the occupation was often held by those named Gypsies; while the excellent Hall Genealogy Website, which deals in old occupations, lists a marine store dealer as: "Proprietor of a store selling equipment to Mariners. There were also those who aspired to that but who were nothing but junk dealers".

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