Friday, May 17, 2013

Question from Roger - Tudor word "Yonker"

I am researching some tudor era words associated with the crew of the Mary Rose warship and found one "Yonker" which I think may refer to a boy sailor who has a specific job e.g. a Gromet who is a boy tasked with turning the ships time keeping sand glass. Is there a definition of what a Yonker is? Many Thanks

1 comment:

Lara Eakins said...

I looked it up in the OED where it is actually in a listing for 'younker' but 'yonker' was listed as a form (of course spelling was flexible back then!). The #1 entry says "A young nobleman or gentleman, a youth of high rank" (from Dutch) but the 2.b. entry is "A boy or junior seaman on board ship" which sounds more relevant to what you found.

In the examples for 2.b. is:
"1626 - J. Smith Accidence Young Sea-men 6 - The Younkers are the yong men called Fore-mast men, to take in the Topsayles, or Top and yeard, Furle, and Sling the maine Saile, Bousing or Trysing, and take their turne at Helme."

That one was the most descriptive of what they were actually doing, the others just referred to them as "sailors".

Hope this helps!