Seagoing Vicars

Submitted by IN SEINE

Friday, 31 August 2012

Under the rule of King Henry VIII, the Navy Royal began the tradition of having a large, standing naval force. As part of his campaign to ensure that even the spiritual needs of his sailors, Henry - in his role as head of the Church of England - mandated that a priest be assigned to every seagoing vessel as a junior officer.

When not tending to his priestly duties, the cleric was traditionally assigned to direct the handling of the sails on the rearmost mast of the ship. While this was nominally a position of relative safety, some casualties among the holy men did occur. Such events were uniformly dreaded by the captains because it meant filling out paperwork for the Admiralty and the Church of England.

It took a full 24 hours to file a mizzen parsons report.

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