For the good of the boys in blue
Philanthropy, Agnes Weston and contested manhood
in From Jack Tar to Union Jack
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The growth of new maritime missions, often administered by women, took place during an age marked by philanthropic impulse, evangelical zeal and a cult of domesticity. Naval philanthropy was not just a specific expression of the maritime mission; it was also, like the general maritime mission, an outgrowth of the Victorian preoccupation with philanthropy. Philanthropic societies established sailors' homes or rests to provide inexpensive accommodation for naval men in port. Philanthropists, like Agnes Weston, highlighted the importance of home, family and nation in their outreach to naval men, whether in temperance campaigns, port accommodation, spiritual ministrations, or disaster relief. Agnes ministrations either castigated naval men for their profligate vices or celebrated them for their domestic virtues. While reforming naval manhood was central to her mission, Agnes consistent allusions to reprobate naval manhood helped to cultivate older stereotypes of the Jolly Jack Tar.

From Jack Tar to Union Jack

Representing naval manhood in the British Empire, 1870–1918


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