What type of vessel was the ship “Two Brothers”?


A wide variety of vessels sailed the oceans during the 18th century.  They were listed in the newspapers of the day as Ships, Sloops, Schooners, Brigantines (abbreviated as Brigt.), Snows, & etc.  Each of these terms had specific meanings within the nautical community. 


In 1780 William Falconer’s Dictionary of the Marine was published as a comprehensive dictionary to define all terms nautical in his era.  That work has been posted on the internet and from it the following definitions are excerpted for the more prominent types of vessels that appeared in the newspapers of the 18th century in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Charlestown, South Carolina:


Brig or Brigantine: a merchant ship with two masts.


Schooner: a small vessel with two masts, whose main-sail of which is attached to a gaff above, to the mast on its foremost edge, and to a long boom below.


Sloop: a small vessel furnished with one mast, the main-sail of which is attached to a gaff above, to the mast on its foremost edge, and to a long boom below.


Snow: is generally the largest of all two-masted vessels.  The sails and rigging on the main-mast and fore-mast of a snow, are exactly similar to those on the same masts in a ship only that there is a final mast behind the main-mast, of the snow, which carries a sail nearly resembling the mizzen of a ship.


Ship: a vessel square-rigged on three masts.


The sailing navy list : all the ships of the Royal Navy : built, purchased and captured, 1688-1860 by David Lyon, Conway Maritime Press, 1993 gives an excellent overview of the rating of ships in the mid 1700’s as follows:



“From the mid-18th century, most European nations divided their principal warships into six 'rates' or divisions, according to the number of guns they carried. The first rate ships carried from 100 (after 1810 this increased to 110) guns upwards; the second rates carried from 84 (later 90) to 100 (110); third rates 70 (80) to 84 (90); fourth rates 50 (60); fifth rates 32 to 50 (60); and sixth rates, any number of guns up to 32 if commanded by a post-captain. Such ships when commanded by a commander were rated as 'sloops'.

The first three rates, and occasionally the fourth, were recognized as 'ships of the line', that is, vessels with armaments sufficiently powerful to be able to form up in the line of battle during a naval engagement. Fifth and sixth rate ships were known as frigates whose duties were varied, ranging from active participation battle as signal repeating ships to convoy duty. All six rates of ships had the standard three masts, square-rigged on each mast. There were subsidiary smaller types of vessels such as brigs, sloops, tenders, snows etc. whose duties were outside the scope and range of the main battle fleets.


Merchant Ships:

Sea-going merchant ships were generally built on the same principles as warships, with the same system of framing and planking, and similar principles of rigging. Vessels of more than about 250 tons were generally ship rigged, with three masts. For vessels between 80 and 250 tons, the brig rig was favored. Smaller vessels generally used either the sloop rig, with a single fore and aft-rigged mast, or the schooner rig, fore and aft with two or more masts.

The largest merchant ships were the East Indiamen, in three broad classes, of 1200 tons, 800 tons, or 500 tons.”


The “Two Brothers” is always referred to as a “ship” in its newspaper appearances in Philadelphia and Charlestown from 1747 through 1754.  This indicates that it was a three-masted vessel.  Additional information about the specific size and outfitting of the “Two Brothers” appeared in the October 15, 1747 issue (#983) of the  Pennsylvania Gazette:


“For Charles-Town, SOUTH CAROLINA        

The Ship TWO Brothers

                   THOMAS ARNOT, Master

          Burthen 250 Tons, 14 Guns and Men


          Will sail with the utmost Expedition.

                   For Freight or Passage, apply to

          Benjamin and Samuel Shoemaker, or said Master”


An additional insight into the size of the “Two Brothers” can be inferred from the number of German immigrants it carried on its voyages from Rotterdam via English ports to Philadelphia between 1747 and 1753.  Only male passengers 16 years old and above where required to be listed on the captains list and to sign oaths of allegiance at the court house upon arrival in Philadelphia. 


Each year the number of names on the lists ranged from 90 to 120, more or less.  Furthermore, in the 1749 list the total number of passengers is given as 312.  Therefore, generally speaking it can be estimated that for every name on the list for a ship, there were two more passengers who were either females or males under 16 years of age. 


So in summary the ship “Two Brothers” was a three-masted merchant ship with a burden rating of 250 tons that carried 14 guns with a crew of 14 in addition to the captain.  It was capable of transporting about 300 passengers and the necessary supplies, food, water, & etc. for those passengers as well as the crew from Europe to Philadelphia.


As merchant ships go, the “Two Brothers” was just big enough to be classified as a ship.  However, it was on the small end of the scale of vessels large enough to receive that designation.  As a point of reference, several historical ships to consider of about the same tonnage as the “Two Brothers” can also be helpful in estimating the dimensions of the ship Johann Paul Jünger came to America on:


The HMS Bounty of “Mutiny on the Bounty” fame had a burthen rating of 215 tons.  It was 91 feet long and 24 feet wide (beam).  The Mayflower II a replica of the original ship which brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620 is rated at 236 tons.  It is 106 feet long and 25 feet wide.  Perhaps this suggests the general dimensions of the “Two Brothers” as about 100 to 110 feet long and about 25 to 30 feet wide.


An internet web site for the “Bounty” can be viewed at http://www.tallshipbounty.org/ .  The following information is taken from that web site:


“The British Admiralty purchased a coal carrying merchant ship operating on the coast of England, named Bethia, renamed her Bounty, and re-commissioned her in 1787 for a special mission. Bounty was to sail halfway around the world to the tiny island of Tahiti, collecting sapling breadfruit trees and transport them to the West Indies. Owners of the burgeoning British plantations there needed a cheap source of food for the workers.


The mutineers eventually settled on Pitcairn Island, an isolated rock in the Pacific that was misplaced on British charts. They burned the ship in what is now called Bounty Bay and weren't discovered for 18 years.


A replica “Bounty” was built in 1960 for MGM studios' Mutiny on the Bounty with Marlon Brando.  The studios commissioned the ship from the shipwrights of Smith and Ruhland in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia to commission a new Bounty to be built from scratch. Completely seaworthy and built just the way it would have been 200 years before, the new Bounty was constructed from the original ship's drawings still on file in the British admiralty archives.”


Today the replica “Bounty” built in 1960 is a fully operational 18th century merchant ship.  It is available for dockside tours and also sailing trips.  Tourist information including sailing schedules and ports of call are available at the web site mentioned above.  From the "Bounty" web site the following pictures have been copied to give a fairly reasonable idea of what the ship “Two Brothers” that Paul Jünger came to America on in 1748 may have looked like since it was also a three-masted merchant ship of about the same size and function and historical era:



Ship and Bridge




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