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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
The Walrus at work BS: Swing a cat - origins (36) RE: BS: Swing a cat - origins 26 Oct 01

Stavanger Bill,

"...In the Royal Navy if a man was sentenced to be flogged, the routine was that he was put in leg irons and given a length of rope from which he had to make the cat..." Certainly in the "Nelsonian" era, the cat would have been made by the Boatswain's Mate, not the prisoner. It was made to a fixed pattern regarding the length and thickness of handle and of tails (with oddities like knots in the tails *only* for theft aboard ship etc.). The "cat" was then sewn into a baize bag, to be opened when all hands mustered to receive punishment (possible origin of "Letting the cat out of the bag"?).



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