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Date Posted: 11:39:15 10/31/16 Mon
Author: Albert Parker
Subject: "Post topping"

Does anyone here know what "Post-topping" was in relation to 18th-century square-rigged sailing ships?

CONTEXT: On March 27, 1746, the Pennsylvania Gazette published an "Extract of a Letter from Capt. Lewis Turner, . . . dated London, November 29, 1745." Captain Turner's ship had been captured by a French squadron cruising the Grand Bank. Three of the ships, including the one in which he was prisoner, put in to a bay in far northeast Newfoundland, where, he wrote, "we lay 3 Weeks Watering, Wooding, and Post-topping the Ships, and then sail'd for Brest."

PRIOR RESEARCH: The phrase is not in H.W. Smyth, Sailor's Word-Book (1867) or in William Falconer, An Universal Dictionary of the Marine, new ed. (1784), under either "post" or "topping." Google searches for the string "post topping" find (1) references to devices placed on the tops of fence posts; (2) references to mulch of fertilizer ("topping") applied to soil after ("post") some event; (3) adjacent instances of the words "post" and "topping" where the combination is not used as a phrase.

Watering = obtaining fresh water and bringing it on board in casks

Wooding = obtaining firewood for the ships' galley stoves, and bringing it on board

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