How Ships Were “Damnified!” in the Old Days

Jeannette Holland Austin
2 min readNov 22, 2023

The term “damnified” or “damnification” referenced vessels where merchandise had spoiled or wrecked, and it became necessary to pay someone for their losses.

As agents across the seas shipped perishable goods into Virginia, there was always a risk of bad weather.

Typically, hurricanes were responsible for losing vessels and cargo, but pirates combing the West Indies and the Atlantic Ocean played a significant role in spoilt cargo.

Treasure hunters have discovered thousands of shipwrecks along the Atlantic coast. The following is from the Records of General Court, p. 146:

“Judgment is granted Colonel Daniel Parke Esq. against Mr. Thomas Warren, commander of the ship Daniel in Virginia, for payment of 29pds, 13sh, 2d, being for money due for goods of the said Parke damnified in the said ship in her late voyage from London, the money to be paid within 40 days upon her next arrival to England.”

Five other persons also suffered losses during the same voyage.

Source: British State Papers, Colonial, vol. IX, №64. This site has attempted to publish the activities of immigrants and agents crossing into the Colony of Virginia. This information is available to members and is labeled under the designation Origins.

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