3.17 GEORGE TAPSON OF STEPNEY, MARINER
One of the earliest of the Tapsons to make his home and to raise his family in the capital was George Tapson of Stepney. At that time Stepney was strictly not in London, but in Middlesex; it is now practically conterminous with the East End of London, the district containing the docks which line the Thames to its south. Richard and Mary (page 24) had lived at Whitechapel, the western part of Stepney immediately to the east of the City of London; George was married at Shadwell, the southern quarter of Stepney close to the docks, in the church of St. Paul (GLRO);
6 Jan 1697 George Tapson mariner and bachelder and Elizabeth Nedels spinster both of this parish by Licance both Liveing neer Shadwell Dock in Lower Shadwell.
George had joined His Majesty’s Ship the Victory as Master’s Mate on 25 May 1696. The Treasurers’ Pay Book for the Victoiy’s commissioning which Began Rigging Wages 8 th Oct b 95, Sea Wages 10 th Nov 95, Ended Wages 6 Dec 97 (PRO ADM33/185) gives the complement of the ship as 754 and has the entry:
25 May 1696 Geo Tapson Ma Mate to 20 Feb 96/7 D 5 Aug 97 Rochester then 5th Leiutenant Chest Greenwich Hospital Full Wanes Neat Wages 167 days at vf per diem.
Like the Chatham Chest (page 29), the Greenwich Hospital was a charitable foundation; as a home for infirm seamen it dated from 1694, and was supported by 6d a month deducted from the wages of both naval and merchant seamen. It employed seamen’s widows in its infirmary and provided a school for children of officers and men, especially orphans. George had received his first commission after nine months of apprenticeship as Master’s Mate: his wages for the 167 days which he served as Fifth Lieutenant at six shillings a day would have amounted to £50 – 2 – 0; perhaps the remaining £32 – 6 – 8 of his gross wages was pay due to him for the time he had spent as Master’s Mate.
George’s next commission was on the Rochester. The Treasurers’ Pay Book for the commissioning of that ship which Began Sea Wages and Victuals 1 Oct 94, Ended Wages 6 Dec 97 (PRO ADM33/192) notes that her complement was 226 and includes:
6 Aug 1697 Victory Geo Tapsonne 2 nd Licut. 2 – 3 30- 17 – 3 30- 15 -0
A further column reads Neglect and Fines 9 – 10. This commissioning of the Rochester ended just one month before George’s wedding, and his name does not appear in the Pay Book for her next commissioning (PRO ADM33/206), which Began Rigging Wages 23 Mar 1697/8.
It may be that George worked for a while on merchant ships, for he was not employed again on one of His Majesty’s vessels until two and a half years after leaving the Rochester, this time as a warrant officer, Midshipman Extraordinary (page 28), on the Dorsetshire, as we learn from the Pay Book for that ship (PRO ADM33/215) for her commissioning which Began Sea Wages as a Guard Ship in Portsmouth harbour … the 6 Febry 99/1700 and Ended Wages 17 Sep 1700:
George returned home to see for the first time the daughter who had been bom while he was at sea and who had been baptized at Shadwell St. Paul, the church where he had married:
18 Aug 1700 Mary dau of George Tapson and Elizabeth his wife being then Six days ould mariner in Spring Stret
The baptism at Shadwell St. Paul of a second daughter soon followed:
25 Nov 1701 Elizabeth dau of George Tapson and Elizabeth his wife being then Nine dayes old mariner in Spring Street
George and Elizabeth then moved to the Ratcliff district of Stepney, where further baptisms followed; these took place in the church of St. Dunstan, Stepney (GLRO), an ancient church of which the present buildings date mainly to the Fifteenth Century:
13 Jun 1703 George son of George & Elizabeth Tapson, Rate 1 . Matin. 13 days old
14 Jan 1706 Richard son of George & Elizabeth Tapson, Ratcliff, Mariner 2..? days old
20 Apr 1708 Elizabeth dau of George & Elizabeth Tapson, Rate. Marr. 17 days old
Although George is described in these baptismal entries as a mariner, there is no evidence of his further service in the Royal Navy after he left the Dorsetshire in 1700, so he must have worked on merchant ships.