What is a Magazine Ship?
The magazine is the name of a place where ammunition is stored on board a vessel and included explosive materials. The London Company was quite strict in the weapons sent to the colony and the affairs of the magazine were administered by a director who was assisted by a committee of five counselors. One the cargo was received into the colony, the accounts thereof were required to be passed upon by a team of auditors specially nominated in a Quarter Court. Thus, the weapons received into the colony for defensive maneuvers were carefully guarded as they were sorely needed by the colonists as a defense against a huge population of marauding Indian tribes in the region. This means that the adventurers held separate meetings to conduct all routine business affairs. During the settlement of Jamestown, no outside trader was permitted to ship supplies into the Colony. The first vessels were referred to as Supply ships because they transported supplies into the Colony as well as a those passengers proposing to reside in Virginia. Fevers, dysentery and Indian attacks were a way of life and restricted the settlers to reside within the confines of a palisade fence. The first ten years or so, a number of Supply ships arrived in the colony and it was not uncommon for the settlers to assume the return voyage to England in search of a new wife to replace the one which had died. After the year of 1619, the vessel which conveyed articles and supplies into the Jamestown settlement were called a magazine ships. The articles purchased by the adventurers who entered into a joint stock (known as the magazine) were conveyed by the magazine ship to the New World. Also, its cargo was confined to necessities. Several immigrants were appointed to take charge of the goods both before and after the vessel arrived in Jamestown. The first magazine vessel was called the Susan, a small vessel whose cargo was restricted only to that clothing which the Colonists needed the most. The goods of the Susan were placed in the care of Abraham Piersey as the Cape Merchant, both during the voyage and after Virginia was reached. As the struggling colonists commenced their chores, the only commodities produced were those which assured a profit when sold in England, such as tobacco and sassafras. The exported cargo was then exchanged for the contents of the arriving magazine ship.
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