British Foreign Policy 1815-65

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Jack Tar

This document has been copied from its primary location on The Victorian Web.


The term "Jack Tar" refers to British sailors and may have more than one derivation

  • tarpaulines - tarred canvas - was used on board ships to protect articles from sea spray
  • sailors grew their hair and plaited it into a pigtail that was then tarred. This saved the men from getting wet hair
  • if something was 'jacked' it had been boiled. Leather jacks were leather cups boiled in tar. British sailors used tarred leather cups.
  • tarpaulin was windproof and waterproof so topmastmen wore tarpaulin clothing when aloft

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Last modified 12 January, 2016

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