A name given in the British Navy during the days of sail to men who, for a small fee, could be persuaded to answer to the names of those absent from a ship when the crew were mustered in a naval dockyard. A man who failed to answer his name at a muster was liable to have R. for ‘run’ entered against his name. This automatically labelled him a deserter and subject to very heavy penalties if apprehended; and he was, moreover, unable to draw his pay when the ship eventually became due for payment. So there was always a temptation to find someone who would stand in and answer ‘Aye’ when an absentee's name was called. More efficient methods of naval bookkeeping introduced during the 19th century not only made the monthly muster of a ship's company unnecessary but also put an effective end to this fraudulent practice.
Subjects: Maritime History.