The Rum Ration

This article is an extract from the “Health and Victualing for the Sick” in the Royal Navy.. dated 1825…It seems nothing has changed…..we go a full circle….. Thanks Jim B for the article

The Rum Ration
Previously to 1825 half-a-pint of spirits, when spirits were issued every person serving in the fleet ; at which time a salutary and judicious change was introduced, by the reduction of the spirits to a quarter of a pint daily, and the allowance of tea, or coffee instead. The practice formerly was to divide the half-pint of spirits into two equal parts, one of which was issued at dinner-time, the other in the afternoon ; now, instead of the afternoon allowance of spirits, tea, or toffee is issued, and proves a safe, healthy, and satisfactory article of diet. When the change was introduced, it was apprehended by some that the seamen, if they did not resist, would be, greatly dissatisfied with it, their love of grog, being considered paramount to all considerations. It vas, however, introduced without disturbance, or general complaint ; in a short time it became liked ; and now it is believed, that the majority of the men serving, if it were put to them, would prefer the present to the former a system. It is certain that the change has acted, and yet will act yet more beneficially ; for it is unnecessary to state, that one of the most active causes of disease, and insubordination, with all its mischievous results, has been the intemperate use of spirituous liquors. It is not less certain, though not so evident, on which account partly perhaps it was so long allowed to continue in force, that the former practice was a sure method for laying the foundation, and fostering habits of intemperance. To give a lad of 18 half-a-pint of spirits daily, with the precepts, and example of his seniors, was tantamount to teaching drunkenness ; for, if he abstained from the allowance of grog, he was ridiculed as a milksop, but was praised for his manly, and seamanlike qualities, if he drank it with avidity. The quantity allowed produced unhealthy excitement, if not intoxication, under the influence of which he neglected duty, or committed acts of insubordination, which entailed punishment, followed sometimes by repentance, and amendment, but often by further indulgence, procuring spirits beyond his allowance, by every means in his power, becoming reckless, a confirmed drunkard, and finally a burthen, and a pest to the service. Many diseases were the direct effect of such conduct, many more were excited, and all were aggravated by it. The habit and, its numerous bad effects, are far from being extinguished, but they are much less than they were ; and there is no reason to doubt that they will become progressively less, till pervading temperance, aided by other means of improvement, shall give to the Navy a force organic, moral, and intellectual, much greater than it has hitherto possessed.

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2 Responses to The Rum Ration

  1. John Bullock says:

    In 1966 the pre-commissioning HMNZS Waikato crew were billeted in HMS Victory. In those days the RN Junior Rates squirt issued was 2 part water, 1 part rum. This rum issue for us NZ’ers lasted about 3 days when “Kiwi Sailor Power” won out to get back to RNZN 1 to 1 issue.

  2. Dave Wistrand says:

    So what was the problem ??

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