. . .
In the first voyage made to the East Indies on account of the English East India Company  there were employed four ships commanded by Captain James Lancaster, their General, viz. the Dragon, having the General and 202 men, the Hector 108 men, the Susan 82 and the Ascension 32. They left England about 18 April; in July the people were taken ill on their passage with the scurvy; by the first of August all the ships except the General's were so thin of men that they had scarce enough to hand the sails; and upon a contrary wind for fifteen or sixteen days the few who were well before began also to fall sick. Whence the want of hands was so great in these ships that the merchants who were sent to dispose of their cargoes in the East Indies were obliged to take their turn at the helm and do the sailors duty till they arrived at Saldanha [near Cape of Good Hope]; where the General sent his boats and went on board himself to assist the other three ships, who were in so weakly a condition that they were hardly able to let fall an anchor without his assistance. All this time the General's ship continued pretty healthy. The reason why his crew was in better health than the rest of the ships was owing to the juice of lemons of which the General having brought some bottles to sea, he gave to each, as long as it lasted, three spoonfuls every morning fasting. By this he cured many of his men and preserved the rest; so that although his ship contained double the number of any of the others yet (through the mersey of God and to the preservation of the other three ships) he neither had so many men sick, nor lost so many as they did.
Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius
Sjöhistoriska Samfundet | The Maritime History Virtual Archives | Naval Medicine | Search.
Copyright © 1996 Lars Bruzelius.