Admiralty

In both France and Britain, the Admiralty was the highest command of the Navy. It was also the name given to the Admiralty offices in the colonial war ports. For example, there was an admiralty in Quebec City and another in Louisbourg, but both were subordinate to the Admiralty in Paris.

Ballast

Weight loaded onto a ship to stabilize the vessel

Bar shot

A projectile in the form of two half-spheres attached by a steel bar that can be fired from a cannon. When fired, the bar shot spirals and can damage a ship's sails and masts.

Blunderbuss

A hand-held firearm with a short barrel and a flared muzzle. It was used to fire several balls at a time.

Branle

An Old French word for " hammock."

Brigantine

A type of two-mast ship with square sails, except for one gaff sail on the after mast.

Clerk

A public officer who worked at the Court Office.

Clerk's Office or Court Office

The office where all documents related to legal proceedings were kept.

Corroborate

Support or confirm facts or opinions.

Famine

A shortage of food.

Freebooter

A specific type of 17th- and 18th-century pirate who attacked Spanish ships and possessions in the West Indies. However, during the 18th century, the term was often used to describe a person involved in privateering, and some Canadian sailors called themselves "freebooters" even though they were really privateers. These terms can be complicated, especially since the general public in the 17th and 18th centuries often confused privateers, pirates and freebooters.

Frigate

A sailing warship, lighter and faster than a ship of the line.

Governor

The title used in Canada during the colonial period for the leader of the colony. Under the French regime, the governor was responsible for the army and defence of the territory. He shared power with the intendant. Under the British regime, the governor represented the British king or queen in the colony.

Hardes

An Old French word meaning all of a person's belongings (clothing and other personal effects) that he or she would travel with.

Hatch or hatchway

A rectangular opening in the deck of a ship that provides access to the lower decks.

Intendant

The title used in Canada during the French colonial regime for the leader of the colony, who shared power with the governor. The intendant administered the budget, controlled spending (including military expenses) and regulated trade. He was also responsible for legal matters and policing.

Manna

An unexpected gift, for example, food.

Musket

A long, heavy firearm that had to be balanced on a forked stick during firing.

Newfoundlander

A French fishing vessel that came to fish for cod off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland.

Outfitter

A person who pays for outfitting a ship.

Outfitting

Providing everything needed to make a ship ready for war, including not only a large arsenal of weapons and ammunition, but also food and water for the crew. Outfitting was carried out and paid for by one or more outfitters.

Petty theft or petty larceny

A small theft, committed furtively and without violence.

Pirate

A man (or his ship) who engages in piracy, that is, will chase ships of any nation in order to capture them for his own profit. Piracy was always an illegal act, and it was severely punished. Pirates who were caught were usually executed.

Plunderage

"Plunderage rights" are an act by which the crewmembers of a privateering vessel are granted permission to seize the equipment and belongings of their counterparts on a captured vessel. Accordingly, the captain can take the belongings of the captain of a captured ship; the surgeon, those of the captured surgeon, and so on and so forth.

Plundering

Theft or pillaging accompanied by damage.

Portside

The left side of a ship.

Porthole

An opening in the hull of a ship through which a cannon barrel could protrude.

Preeminence

Holding the highest rank, the top position.

Privateer

A man (or his ship) who conducts raids in time of war, that is, chases down ships belonging to enemy nations in order to capture them at his own risk and for his own profit, and does so legally, with the authorization of his own country.

Purging

Evacuation of the bowels by means of a purgative.

Roadstead

A sheltered natural basin or cove where ships could anchor safely.

Schooner

A type of two-mast sailing ship whose after mast is taller than or the same height as the mainmast. It is generally equipped with fore and aft sails.

Scurvy

A disease caused by lack of vitamin C, often characterized by excessive bleeding, especially from the mouth. Scurvy was a very common illness among ships' crews until the late 18th century.

Ship of the line

A sailing warship, heavier and slower than a frigate.

Sloop

A one-masted ship with a single head sail.

Rade

Bassin naturel dans lequel les navires peuvent s'ancrer.

Sovereign Council

Under the French regime, this council acted as a court of appeal and handled administrative matters.

Spreading shot or grapeshot

Lead or iron balls grouped together and fired as projectiles from a cannon.

Starboard

The right side of a ship.

Tack

Navigate in a zig-zag pattern; take an indirect path to reach the desired position.

Tackle

Parts of a ship's rigging (sails, blocks, ropes, etc.).

United States Congress

Legislative body of the United States of America; the government.

Vessel

A generic name for any type of ship.

Wampum

A Algonquin word meaning a necklace or belt made of small beans. A Wampum was exchanged by two parties to mark the signing of a treaty, a marriage or other important events.

Warning shot

A cannon shot fired to order a ship to stop and show its colours.