The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 3
The Marine Society.
A plain brick building, occupied by the society in .
In the floor is a committee room, in which are several fine paintings, viz. lull length portraits of Robert, baron Romney, and Charles, earl of Romney, presidents of the institution in their peers robes, by sir W. Beechey; John Thornton, esq. treasurer, from to , by Gainsborough; and Jonas Hanway, esq. the founder, by Edwards. Above the Mantle piece is also a bust of this excellent man. There is also a portrait of the Rev. Dr.
Glasse, chaplain from to . In the office are tablets of the donations to the charity.
This excellent society, for fitting out boys for sea-service, was established in , and owed its origin to the following circumstance :--In the spring of that year, lord Harry Powlett, afterwards duke of Bolton, then commanding the Barfleur, requested Mr. John Fielding, the magistrate, to collect a number of poor boys for his ship, and to clothe them. These boys, on their way to Portsmouth, were met by Fowler Walker, esq. of Lincoln's
Inn. and, struck with their appearance, it occurred to him that a society for fitting out poor boys in a similar manner would not only be a benevolent institution, but a national benefit. On returning to town, he called on Mr. Fielding, who had some doubts of the success of the plan, but readily acquiesced in it; and subscriptions were raised in a short time sufficient to clothe between and boys. Mr. Jonas Han way,
as he was emphatically but justly called, next took up the plan; when the Marine Society was formed, and it has continued to be of the most flourishing and most useful charities in the metropolis. A ship is moored off Deptford for the reception of the boys, who are clothed, fed, instructed, and qualified for sea-service; and so extensive have been the benefits of this charity, which was
|incorporated in , that, since its establishment in , boys have been fitted out; and the number of men and boys,.who have been clothed and relieved by the institution, is . The last few years between and boys have been annually clothed and sent to sea by this valuable charity.|
The ship appropriated to the use of the society, through the favour of the lords of the admiralty, is the Solebay, an old frigate unfit for service at sea, but admirably calculated for the purposes of this charity. The boys, as soon as received at the society's office, are stripped of their rags, thoroughly cleansed in a warm bath from their filth, examined by the society's surgeon or apothecary in attendance, entirely new cloathed, and sent immediately to the ship at Deptford, where they are initiated into their profession, reduced to habits of subordination and obedience, and inured to gentle discipline. They are taught to row in boats, to go aloft, to loose and take in sail, to knot and splice; also the use of the compass and tourniquet. To these are added the exercise of the great guns and small arms. The instruction required from the schoolmaster is in reading and spelling, with strict attention to their morals and religion. On Sundays, as many as can be accommodated at Deptford church, regularly attend divine service there; while to the others it is performed on board, both morning and evening. Their health is carefully attended to in their diet, their cleanliness, and their exercise: and they are under the continual inspection and care of an able and experienced naval surgeon, who resides close to the spot where the ship is moored.
The great number of boys sent into the king's service (even during the peace) and into that of the honourable East India Company, exclusive of those engaged in private merchants' ships and other vessels, affords the strongest proofs of the estimation in which this establishment is held.
In St. Botolph's church-yard is the late rectory house, a handsome and capacious brick building; and close to the north side is an open passage, called Alderman's walk which leads to a very magnificent house, with a fine garden, and a court yard before it, graced with trees, and a stone statue standing on a pedestal in the middle. This house is situated on part of the glebe which was let to sir Francis Dashwood, who built it. In , the present coachway on the north side of the church was granted to him on paying A corner of the vestry room was taken down to facilitate the work.