Seedie Boys - Ships Nostalgia
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Seedie Boys

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Old 29th January 2019, 18:47
IAn Burns IAn Burns is offline  
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Seedie Boys

In researching RN ships in E Med and Red Sea during WW1 I have encounter the term Seedie Boys several times.

The context appears to be employment of Lascar or Egyptian hands.

Can anyone clarify the use of the term which appears to have been in general RN use during the period.
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Old 29th January 2019, 20:38
beedeesea beedeesea is online now  
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According to Wiki:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seedies_and_Kroomen

Brian
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Old 29th January 2019, 23:15
IAn Burns IAn Burns is offline  
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Thanks Brian.

Wiki should always be checked of course, but there are many links accessible from that file which more than confirm the accuracy.

Including this extract:

From: Unfortunate Strangers: Lascars in the British Maritime World c. 1849-1912, Dean Broughton.
A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in History
Victoria University of Wellington, NZ.
2018

Although lascars, Asiatics, Coolies, and Eastern sailors have been discussed so far, the term lascar did not only represent a microcosm of Asia. Sailors from Africa often slipped under the lascar umbrella. Seedies and Kroomen (sometimes referred to as Kru) were non-white workers from Africa who made similar contributions to the maritime industry, as lascars did. Seedies were mostly Muslim unskilled labourers recruited from the Swahili coast: 2, 200 Seedies entered the port of Aden between 1860 and 1875 alone.26 Descriptions of Kroomen are of experienced fishermen from the Kroo or Kru tribe.27 Moreover,they were described as ‘being willing to work and can be found in every part of the African coast.’28 For example, ‘These Seedie Boys are native Africans who serve on board her Majesty's ships on this station to save the European portion of the crew from unnecessary exposure to the sun in such work as mast-head lookouts and cleaning ships copper.’29 That sailors from Africa were sometimes known as lascars emphasises the broadness of the lascar category and emphasises the difficulty in defining lascars especially based on one particular ethnicity as well as diluting specific features of identity.
Cultural differences are often lost in all-encompassing descriptions of different maritime labour groups. For example in 1892 ‘200 Coolie sailors in honour of the annual Mahommedan festival paraded through Cardiff.’30 The report suggests that Coolies were predominately Muslim. Humayun Ansari suggests it was not coolies but lascars who were the majority of Muslims in Britain.31 Lascars practised different religions, but many ships carried all Muslim crew and a Muslim Chaplin.32 If coolies as already illustrated consisted of different racial and ethnic groups then suggesting they are all of one religion is problematic. Sailors who were not Muslim would be unlikely to march in a Muslim parade. This example raises questions: based on the event they were attending were this group of sailors lascars or coolies and did it matter?. The report makes no distinction between lascar and coolie even though the cultural activity suggest the sailors have lascar attributes. Describing lascars as coolies diminishs their identity by ignoring their culture. This illustrates the all-encompassing identity based on race and difference that non-white workers had to endure. If Lascars, Coolies, Asiatics, Kroo, and Seedies had cultural differences the one thing they did have in common was the occupations they were employed in.


26 Alessandro Staziani, Sailors, Slaves and Immigrants: Bondage in the Indian Ocean World, 1750-1914 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), pp. 63-66.
27 Diane Frost, 'Racism, Work and Unemployment: West African Seamen in Liverpool 1880s-1960s', in Diane Frost (ed.), Ethnic Labour and British Imperial Trade: A History of Ethnic Seafarers in the UK (London: Frank Cass & Co Ltd, 1995), p, 22-24.
28 'Parliamentary Papers'' 1842, p. 591.
29 'Capture of a Slave Dow', Hampshire Telegraph, July 23, 1887, p. 8.
30 'Agitation in South Wales Ports', South Wales Daily News, August 5, 1892, p. 4.
31 Humayun Ansari, The Infidel Within Muslims in Britain Since 1800 (London: C Hurst & Co, 2004), p. 35.
32 'Characteristics of the Lascar', Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, June 1, 1893, p. 2.



Thanks for the reply
Ian
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