Quartermaster Jack Roberts

Jack Roberts, Quartermaster of the Archangel. Born England in the late 17th century

Born 1681, London, England.
I grew up comfortably in London, my childhood more easy than most. My father, a well to do merchant, owned a number of well-appointed ships and he conducted a successful business, although his trading practices were somewhat questionable. As third in line, two very healthy brothers were born before I was, I stood to inherit little but was still well educated in the affairs of trade. About the age of twelve, as my friends began their lives in the Royal Navy, I began working in my father’s company. Finding myself so often around the docks, I soon developed a keen liking for the sea and the ships that sailed upon her. I begged my father to allow me the opportunity to go to sea and at the age of seventeen, I was placed aboard one of my father’s ships. With a good head for figures, I began as a purser but I quickly developed a good report with both captain and crew, and soon became quartermaster.

By the age of twenty, I had already proven my worth as a competent sailor and was well liked by the crews I served with, so that my father allowed me a ship of my own to be Master of. But in my twenty-first year, on a cruise to the Caribbean, very near to Saint-Domingue, I was surprised by a French privateer, boarded and brought into prison on the island. But as good fortune continued to shine upon me, in the few weeks that followed, a ship’s officer, from the Trustworthy, came to lay claim to the prisoners to complete his crewe muster. Hearing the man was English and wishing to be rid of the French dogs that held me captive, I was willing to side with him though in my opinion he were no better than a common pirate. So I convinced him that I was a capable sailor and was taken aboard as a Bosun’s mate. In November of the year 1702, the Trustworthy found herself in a massive battle with a new privateer ship launched earlier in September, the Archangel. During the fighting I found myself blown over board by the concussion of the great guns and watched helplessly as the Archangel pursued the Trustworthy out of sight. Having resigned myself to my fate, I was thoroughly, though happily surprised when, hours later, the Archangel returned and, spotting me amongst the debris, ordered me taken on board. I was further surprised to learn that the Archangel was captained by non- other than John Sterling, son of William Sterling, a wealthy and powerful merchant with whom my father had done business for a time. It was my father’s questionable business practices that caused William Sterling to put a halt to any further transactions betwixt the two years ago.

Still the younger Sterling was kind enough to inform me that, whilst I had been abroad in the Caribbean, my father had passed away and my eldest brother had run his company into the ground. It seemed I was ruined as well. But, as my good fortune would have it, my head for figures was well known amongst them in the trade and after explaining my part of how I came to be upon the Trustworthy, I was offered a place as purser upon the Archangel to earn my keep until we returned to England, Sterling’s purser having died of a bad case of embezzlement several weeks prior. And now I find myself still employed upon the Archangel, acting as Quartermaster and still keeping tabs on the books.

R. Permenter copyright 2011


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