Legal Advice for Shipping and Sailing


The Merchant Shipper’s Assistant and Common Carrier’s Guide (Boston: I.R. Butts, 1850) and The Seaman’s Assistant (Boston: I.R. Butts, 1849).

Joyner Library Special Collections, HE745 .B88 1850

Digitized version available online in Joyner Library’s Digital Collections.

Staff person: Sarah McLusky


Special Collections holds many books dealing with nautical themes. Among them is Isaac Ridler Butts’ 1850 The Merchant Shipper’s Assistant and 1849 The Seaman’s Assistant – Joyner’s copies were bound together, so we have two books in one!

Title page for “The Merchant Shipper’s Assistant”

 The first helped shipmasters, owners, and shipping companies understand insurance laws related to their business, while the second gave sailors an idea of their rights. Butts’ company printed similar volumes of insurance and business laws for landlords, tenants, mechanics, and farmers.

The second, the Seaman’s Assistant, shifts focus from shipping companies to the people who worked for them. It lists requirements for sailors’ food (lots of salt beef and pork). It also explains what companies had to pay if they left a sailor behind in a foreign port (two months’ extra wages to the sailor, one month’s to the American consulate to help support other destitute sailors).

Detail from one of several charts in “The Seaman’s Assistant” showing recommendations for feeding sailors, page 99

At ECU, 18th-century pirates like Blackbeard get most of the attention. Even in the 19th century, however, The Seaman’s Assistant still lists the penalties for piracy (which included fines, hard labor, and death).

 Recto of book page with 4 paragraphs followed by image of sailing ship

Detail from page 65 of “Seaman’s Assistant” outlining the penalties for working with pirates, which included fines of up to $1000 and 3-year prison sentences

1941 Homecoming

Teco Echo, October 3, 1941Source: East Carolina Teachers College, The Teco Echo, October 5, 1941.

Staff Person: Kacy Guill

Description: On October 18, 1941, East Carolina Teachers College held their first fall homecoming.  Entertainment at the homecoming included a football game between the Pirates of East Carolina and the Catamounts of Western Carolina Teachers College.  Plans were also made for “a colorful parade to precede the game, and several extra-curricular organizations are planning to enter floats.”  This would be the first annual homecoming parade held at ECTC.  The following year ECTC made the decision to cancel all homecoming activities until the end of the war. The next homecoming was not held until 1947.

Sophomore Wagon in 1941 Homecoming Parade.

The History of the Bucaniers of America

Source: The History of the Bucaniers of America

The History of the Bucaniers of America

The History of the Bucaniers of America

Staff Person: Ralph Scott


Esquemelin, Alexandre Oliver

The History of the Bucaniers of America; from the first original down to this time; written in several languages and now collected into one volume. London: Newborough, Nicholson and Tocke, 1704.

Rare Book Collection: In Conservation

Alexandre Esquemelin (ca. 1645-1707) first published the most important 17th century history of the pirates in Dutch in 1678 under the title De Americaensche Zee-Roovers (Amsterdam, Jan ten Hoorn). Believed to be a French Huguenot refugee, Esquemelin traveled with the French West India Company to Tortuga in 1666. There he encountered many famous pirates including Henry Morgan, with whom he worked in a vague medical capacity until 1674, at which point Esquemelin returned to Europe. His name appears later as a “surgeon” during the French surprise attack on Cartagena, Colombia, on May 6, 1697. This raid was conducted with the assistance of “buccaneers” who became upset when the French carted all of the loot back with them to France, leaving extortion and murder. It is probably from these exploits that Esquemelin drew his pirate portraits found in his History of the Bucaniers of America.

The portrait shown here is of the pirate Roche Brasiliano (formerly of Brazil), who lived with the “Society of Pirats” on the island of Jamaica, from which he plundered the Spanish galleon fleets in the Caribbean.