Letter L: Thursday, May 2, 1850
Three young men, employed as "porters for seamen" (so they described themselves), gave me the following statement concerning the tricks practiced by ships' porters generally, in which they all concurred:-
"It would be much better if such as we were licensed; we look after porter's work, carrying sailors' luggage ashore. Last ship we were aboard some coal-whippers were there, and were sarcy, and were turned out, and we were turned out as well. We go aboard to carry the sailors' goods ashore; but some porters-for there's two classes of us-go aboard for thieving, or to take men away. We work two or three together that we may save the goods from thieves by keeping watch. Perhaps if a ship comes into dock there'll be more porters go on board than there are seamen; twenty-five we've seen on board one ship, but not more than six were regular porters. There are regular porters at each dock - perhaps nearer forty than fifty in all. Four times that number do it for jobs. People that work about the dock, work as ships' porters. Dock labourers often leave their work to go on board a ship. If they hadn't done so this afternoon, we should have had a dinner tomorrow (Sunday). The coal-whippers look out as well as the dock labourers. When we get goods ashore singly. If nobody watched, somebody would sling the chest on his back and walk off with it. Besides, there's often so many things, that we can hardly keep watch enough. I saw a man the other day on board a ship pull off a pair of old boots, and slip on a new pair, that was put on deck to be carried ashore. Such practices are common with jackets. The seamen look to us to be honest with them in bringing their things on shore."