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New Funded Doctoral Studentship Opportunity

‘Disability’ and Stuart Seafarers, 1600-1750


The National Maritime Museum (NMM), part of Royal Museums Greenwich, and the University of East Anglia (UEA) are pleased to announce the availability of a fully funded Collaborative doctoral studentship from October 2024. The award is made under the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships (CDP) scheme and as part of the REACH CDP consortium.


By researching the role and perception of disabled officers, seamen, and dockyard workers who served in the Stuart navy, the project will explore their treatment, as well as representations and understandings of them, at a time of institutional and national change. 


This project will be jointly supervised by Prof. Claire Jowitt and Dr Benjamin Redding (UEA and the Gloucester Project Team) and Dr Robert Blyth (NMM) and the student will be expected to spend time at both UEA and the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, as well as becoming part of the wider cohort of CDP funded students across the UK.


The studentship can be studied either full or part time.

Project Overview


This project focuses on how impaired Stuart seafarers became identified as ‘disabled’. Engaging with critical disabilities studies where ‘disability’ is understood as a historically and culturally variable category, the project explores how early modern attitudes towards specific physical and sensorial impairments in effect disabled Stuart naval personnel, changing their lived experiences through this categorisation. Researching the lives of impaired battle survivors and dockyard workers is valuable in demonstrating their continued service in the British navy. The project is jointly supervised by the University of East Anglia and the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

The student will study the development of state infrastructure that supported disabilities, focusing on the accounts of the Chatham Chest held at NMM and elsewhere, and key events such as the founding of the Royal Hospital at Greenwich, the first hospital for disabled and disadvantaged navy veterans in 1694. The student may wish to extend the project to the 18th century to examine how late Stuart seafarers were supported in their retirement, benefiting from NMM’s more extensive Greenwich Hospital records.


The project is divided into two key strands. Study of the Chatham Chest accounts and related materials to explore the social conditions and relief efforts available to impaired seamen. The project will also use visual and textual material, including broadsides, plays, poems, artwork, and material artefacts, to research and analyse how physically and mentally disabled Stuart naval workers were perceived, understood, and represented.


Research outputs will include a doctoral thesis, a Chatham Chest database, a research guide for NMM disability sources, and potentially a related small pop-up or digital display at NMM.


Research questions include:

•  How common was it for seamen and dockyard workers who served in the Stuart navy to be maimed?

•  How were sailors’ disabilities perceived by the navy and wider society, including whether seamen’s impairments were perceived differently from those with disabilities on land?

•  What roles did members of crew with physical and mental disabilities hold?

•  What are the key changes in how disability was understood and treated across the period?


For further information and to apply, see the full studentship advertisement here.

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