The army cried out for reform from every point of view. Recruits were still mostly drawn from the lowest social class and were treated, “alternately as a criminal to be punished with flogging and as a child whose every action should be watched and guarded.” Until 1847, soldiers were enlisted for 21 years: flogging was not completely abolished until 1881; and pay and living conditions remained inexcusably low throughout most of Victoria’s reign.
It was in this climate that the NMBS ministered. Eventful days, days of change and days of new opportunity! In a climate of spiritual need, the Society flourished. Its at this time, the Society’s support of the East India Company’s crews started its relationship with ‘merchant’ seamen.
Example 1851 Report, “During the past year 13 of our man-of-war have been furnished at Plymouth with 588 Bibles and Scriptures. These with other grants, made a total of 923 Bibles and New Testaments placed on 23 vessels. In addition, 100 Bibles and New Testaments were granted at the request of the Captain Superintendent for distribution to the Seamen and Marines leaving Haslar Hospital. 150 bibles to the troops of the Honorable East India Company