Though many sources and people would have you believe that warriors, brawlers and tacticians were at the top of the heap on a pirate vessel, it was in actual fact surgeons and musicians who were some of the most respected members of any crew. For different reasons, of course, but nonetheless they were both considered to be integral to a crew’s wellbeing and moral.
Pirate Ship Doctors
Having a medical man, or further still a surgeon, on board a pirate ship was quite a rarity and luxury during the Golden Age, or any other age of piracy for example. You see despite being in high demand, most pirates would require the help of a surgeon at some point in their dangerous careers, surgeons were uncommon on board pirate ships. The job of a crew’s Doctor or Surgeon would be to perform amputations, dress minor wounds and even treat sexually transmitted diseases. He might even be called upon to decide whether or not food was safe for the pirates to eat.
Despite the skill of these pirate doctors, however, life was still hard for the crew. Diseases such as Yellow Fever, Malaria and Tuberculosis were untreatable during the Golden Age. In fact it is a testament to the effectiveness of such men that the most common cause of death for many a pirate was disease, not injury.
If you believe the legends of pirates party loving ways then it is only fitting, really, to think that musicians were such hot articles on board a pirate ship. Most of the time they would be employed to keep the spirits and morale of the crew buoyant. Their skills could be used to make dull work less of a drudge, spice up swabbing the decks and especially to celebrate good fortune on the seas. On a more strategic level they would have their place in battle, too; playing tunes to inspire their colleagues and demoralize the enemy.
Being that these men were so highly prized on a pirate ship you won’t be surprised to hear that they were often kidnapped and forced to join a pirate crew. Unlike so many who joined the ranks of pirates in search of treasures, doctors, surgeons and musicians would often be pilfered from legitimate crews. They would be held ransom.
What job would you prefer on a pirate ship?