March 27, 2013

Son of a gun

The term son of a gun is used today as a term of affection or admiration. Originally, this phrase was used as a euphemism for a child born out of wedlock.

As early as the 16th century the British Navy permitted a number of women to live aboard warships. Even before the War of 1812, the British Navy used impressment to ‘recruit’ sailors. These men were typically not allowed to leave the ship, since they may run away, so a number of prostitutes served on ships.
War of 1812 Cannon 
Pregnancy was inevitable and the only place for a woman to have any privacy during labour was behind a screen placed between two cannons. If the child was a girl then the mother and child were put ashore at the earliest convenience. Male babies stayed with the ship, and since it was difficult to accurately know who fathered the child, the newborn was listed in the ship’s log as ‘son of a gun.' 

If you want to learn more nautical terms and see some impressive ships, make sure you head to St. Catharines on June 29 and 30 for the Tall Ships Visit. You will be able to see the Lynx, Unicorn and Pride of Baltimore II along with other 1812 entertainment. Make sure you mark your calendars.

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