Andrew Service, born in Port Glasgow, joined the HMS Medusa in 1801 at the age of twenty. He is registered in the muster rolls as entering the ship as ‘LM’, landsman (see image below, left), which suggests that he had no previous seafaring experience.
He was promoted in March 1805 to ‘AB’, able seaman (see image above, centre), the rank above ordinary seaman but sometime prior to 1809 he was returned to being ‘Ordy’, an ordinary seaman (see image above, right). The reasons for his promotion and demotion are not recorded.
It was unusual for a lower deck rating, like Andrew Service, to have kept a logbook of his time on board because many of the men of his rating would have been illiterate. There was also a risk that such a journal could fall into enemy hands.
He may have written it in pencil, as the ink from a pen would have run if wet, and wrote it up in ink on his return. Hence the inscription on the first page (see image, right, View larger image.
"Remarks on Bord
His Majestys Ship Medusa
July 4th 1810 Greenock
Andrew saw service on board the Medusa in the north and south Atlantic, sailing as far south as the Falklands; the Mediterranean; and the Indian Ocean. He records sea and land battles, local inhabitants and other ships as well as life on board the Medusa. He appears to remain unscathed until November 1808 when he caught his fingers in the armoury hammock which resulted in the loss of a finger, a month later.
He was invalided at Plymouth Hospital in May 1810 and discharged at Plymouth Dockyard, receiving an annual pension of 10 GBP for life. He returned to Scotland, arriving at Greenock on 6 June 1810 after 9 years and 12 days absence.
For further information (or if you have some suggestions regarding the text of the logbook) about the On Board HMS Medusa exhibition or if you would like permission to use the images and text accompanying this exhibition, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance.