Before the 18th century merchant sailing vessels were traditionally classified by their hulls, not their rigs. In 1768 Frederik af Chapman, a naval architect, published a book, Architectura Navalis Mercatoria. This divided the various hull shapes into five categories: frigate, hagboat (or heck-boat), pink, cat, and bark (barque), and each of these could have any of the rigs by which sailing ships were later identified, i.e. schooner, brig, brigantine, etc.
The change to identifying a ship by its rig was gradual, though by 1769 William Falconer in The Dictionary of the Marine was writing that most of the different categories of hull form were becoming very similar and that the term ‘bark’ was ‘a general name given to small ships; it is, however, peculiarly appropriated by seamen to those which carry three masts without a mizzen topsail’.
Subjects: Maritime History.