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   Back to The 20th-century port video gallery
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'Who were the Lascars?'

Answer:

This was the general name the British used for seamen from South Asia (mainly India) who worked on British-owned ships from the 17th century onwards.

  • The word Lascar derives from the Persian 'lashkar' meaning an army, camp or a band of followers.
  • The term first came to be used for soldiers, and then for seamen.
  • By the 1930s, Lascars formed more than a quarter of all seamen in the British merchant fleet.
Lascars manning the yards, by WL Wyllie.
Lascars manning the yards, by WL Wyllie.
© National Maritime Museum, London
Repro ID: PV3062
Description: Lascars were seamen from South Asia (mainly India) who worked on British-owned ships from the 17th century onwards.
Creator: William Lionel Wyllie
Date: unknown
Credit line: National Maritime Museum, London
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National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory GreenwichNew Opportunities Fund 
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