History: Additional Information Page 3

The "Forth Ship"

Sovereign of the Seas image
The Sovereign of the Seas
Forth ship image

The origin of the Forth badge is, like much of the club's history, undocumented. One frequently asked, but unanswered, question is: why does the badge feature a ship if the club was set-up for railway workers?

The ship portrayed on the badge is actually a seventeenth century warship. Compare the Forth ship with the 1637 woodcut of the "Sovereign of the Seas" shown on the right. The similarity is striking. (The superstructure of the "Sovereign of the Seas" was reduced in height and a top sail was removed in 1651.)

Commissioned by Charles I in 1634 and launched in 1637, the "Sovereign of the Seas" was intended to fill her enemies with awe and fear. Built at a total cost of £65,586 (about the cost of ten "normal" warships), she was the most expensive, elaborate and lavishly ornamented vessel of her time.

In fact, the ship-money tax levied by Charles on coastal towns to fund his Naval expansion program, including the building of the "Sovereign of the Seas", was extremely unpopular and was cited as one of the excesses which led to his overthrow and execution in 1649.

In 1649 Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth renamed the ship "Sovereign" and subsequently employed her in the first Anglo-Dutch war of 1652-1654. She was extensively rebuilt in 1659-1660 and was named "Royal Sovereign" in honour of Charles II. She fought in the second and third Anglo-Dutch wars and in the Nine Years War against France. Then, sadly, in 1669 a misplaced candle in the cargo hold set the ship on fire and she was burned to the water-line at Chatham. Her salvaged timbers were used to build the second "Royal Sovereign" which was launched in 1706.

If the Forth badge designer, for reasons best known to himself, wished the club's crest to feature a ship of the mid-seventeenth century, then there was none more famous, or more widely portrayed than the "Sovereign of the Seas".

Forth crest