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A small boat used for carrying vegetables, fruit, and provisions to ships lying in harbour. The term possibly derives from the Dutch boomboat, a broad-beamed fishing boat, but also possibly from bumbay, an old Suffolk word meaning quagmire. The word first appears in England in the by-laws of Trinity House in 1685 under which scavenging boats attending ships in the Thames were regulated. These boats were employed to remove ‘filth’ from ships, and also to carry vegetables for sale on board. Apparently hygiene was not highly regarded by Trinity House in 1685.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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