Chatham Chest

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Francis Drake (c. 1540—1596) pirate, sea captain, and explorer

Sir John Hawkins (1532—1595) merchant and naval commander


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A contributory benevolent fund for the English Navy established by Sir Francis Drake, Sir John Hawkins, and Lord Howard of Effingham (1536–1624) in 1590, to which seamen paid sixpence a month from their pay for the benefit of the wounded and the widows of those killed in action. To avoid peculation, the original Chatham Chest, which is preserved at the Historic Dockyard, Chatham, was fitted with seven locks, the seven keys to which were held by different individuals so that all had to be present when the chest was opened. In spite of this precaution, large sums were regularly illegally abstracted from the chest. The funds of the Chatham Chest were amalgamated with those of Greenwich Royal Hospital in 1814.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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