What was the composition of seafarers' provisions in the mid-19th century? What types of items would they have taken with them for a long trip?

For example — for just travelling on a light trip from Glasgow to Magellan Bay and back, planning to spend half a year at sea, in the summer of 1846.

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    When in the 19th Century? In 1801, there was no such thing as canning; in 1899, it was widespread. Ditto for who knows how many other innovations. – David Richerby Jan 4 '15 at 13:18
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    Which country? Travelling where (Artic? Tropics?) What mission (science, exploration, military?) How large? – MCW Jan 4 '15 at 13:18
  • @MarkC.Wallace any? but if you want - i edited my q – urmurmur Jan 4 '15 at 15:33
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    You've gone from over-vague and broad to ridiculously specific. Also, how is Glasgow (Scotland) to Magellan Bay (Philippines) and return a "light trip" in 1846, 23 years before the opening of the Suez Canal? That's literally half-way around the world, starting in temperate Europe, crossing the equator, rounding southern Africa, crossing the equator again and ending up in the tropics. – David Richerby Jan 5 '15 at 11:04

While this is unlikely to be the average, it should provide a relatively accurate impression of the kind of stores carried by and 18th Century ship.

The Victualing Board of the Royal Navy allowed the following provisions for every person serving on one of His Majesty's Ships (per week):

 7 Pounds Bisket
 7 Gallons of Beer/Measures of Wine
 4 Pounds Beef
 2 Pounds Pork
 2 Pints (Winchester measure) Pease 
 1.5 Pints (Winchester measure) Oatmeal
 6 Ounces Sugar
 6 Ounces Butter
 12 Ounces Cheese

This was set out as part of Regulations and Instructions - 1808, Relating to His Majesty's service at sea, Section IX, Chapter 1 - Of the Provisions, Article 1.

Article 2 set out suitable substitutions for these measures.

Article XI defines the rules for the provisioning of ships with water:

All His Majesty's, Ships, whether victualled for Channel or Foreign Service, are to be furnished with as many water casks as their Captains or Commanders shall demand ; and as the same are to be supplied of such sizes as the Captains shall apply for, either leaguers, butts, puncheons, hogsheads, barrels, or half hogsheads, all Commanders are to have regard thereto, and to apply for such quantities and species of water cask as they can conveniently stow ; observing that leagers are to be demanded and supplied for the ground tier only.

So, assuming we have a ship with a crew of 150 (Lower estimate of the crew of a Sixth Rate Frigate) - that intends to be at sea for 26 weeks of the year - the following amount of provisions would be required:

27,300 Pounds Bisket
27,300 Gallons Beer
15,600 Pounds Beef
7,800 Pounds Pork
7,800 Pints Pease
5,850 Pints Oatmeal
23,400 Ounces Sugar
23,400 Ounces Butter
46,800 Ounces Cheese

It's worth remembering that it was common for ships of the Royal Navy to carry some livestock for slaughter, milk etc. and the the Captain and Officers of a ship would often buy their own provisions to supplement those supplied by the Victualing Board.

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    Interestingly, the quantity of provisions per man listed in the Regulations and Instructions hadn't changed in 50 years - the 1757 edition has the very same list. Also interesting is that the list omits any fresh fruit or vegetables (which by 1808 would have been used in combating scurvy), presumably because these were sourced locally whenever the ship was at a friendly port. – Steve Bird Jan 8 '15 at 22:36
  • Yeah, that would be my guess as well. I spent a fair while looking for information on that. I suppose the fruit and veg could have been mandated by the Sick and Wounded Board or via the rules governing the role and powers of the Surgeon/Ships Doctor. – Kobunite Jan 9 '15 at 9:17
  • Thank you. I wonder how you found that info! How do you think, how they did preserve butter and cheese? – urmurmur Jan 9 '15 at 13:59
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    Well, with cheese probably by waxing it. Not really sure about butter though. – Kobunite Jan 9 '15 at 14:10
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    According to "Feeding Nelson's Navy" by Janet Macdonald, "like citrus fruit, vegetables were something which pursers bought for their ship when opportunity permitted". In the case of butter, it was 'preserved' simply by removing as much of the buttermilk as possible and by adding salt. The HEIC used an additional process (gently heating the butter) to separate out the buttermilk, to for clarified butter which lasted longer. – Steve Bird Jan 9 '15 at 17:44

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