‘Most of the apprentices had been brought up in orphanages and
reformatory schools… The system produced splendid fishermen,
but the evils were many.’
The quotation comes from Anson himself, and he’s talking about the Grimsby fishing fleet. As a North Lincolnshire boy who grew up with the sons and daughters of at least a few fishing skippers, I’ve always had a bit of an interest in fishing communities, their boats and their songs, even though I have no interest at all in trying their difficult and dangerous trade myself. But I’ll say one thing – after reading Anson, I’ll forever think about the favourite hymns and songs that came out of fishing in the 19th century in a completely different way, for among other things they were the songs of boys who had no choice about the trade they had entered. Think of a bunch of pressed boys singing the words of Eternal Father Strong to Save, Three Score and Ten and Heave Away the Trawl Warp for a while, and you may see what I mean.
For a little more on Three Score and Ten, start here.