Despite what you might have been told about pirate crews, surgeons and musicians were among the most prized and respected members of any crew. Maybe not working together, though! Can you imagine a surgeon stitching up a cutlass slash or amputating a foot as the musician hammers out a sea shanty?
Doctors on Pirate Ships
Despite the fact that many a pirate would need the care of a doctor or surgeon in their long and dangerous careers such men were rarities aboard pirate ships. When they were on board, however, they would perform all kinds of operations from amputations to the simple dressing of wounds. They would even try to treat diseases, both sexually transmitted and non, as best they could. Nonetheless the life of pirates were fraught with danger; diseases like Malaria, Yellow Fever and Tuberculosis could not be cured. It is a testament to the skill of such men, when they were present, however that the most common cause of death for the average pirate was disease, not injury. In the absence of a pirate ship doctor or surgeon the ship’s cook or carpenter would often step into those shoes, believe it or not!
The job of a musician on a pirate ship was more esoteric; they did whatever was needed at the time to keep moral high. This could mean making hard work lighter with rhythmic jigs, cheering the men while they swabbed the decks and, of course, helping to liven up celebrations after victory. On a more tactical level musicians were also utilized in battle; they could play tunes to inspire their own crew, or even to frighten and dishearten their enemies. You see musicians were hot stuff during the Golden Age of pirates.
Considering that the Doctors and Musicians of the world were so highly prized by pirate ship crews it can be no real surprise to hear that they were often kidnapped and forced to work on pirate vessels. They would be pilfered from legitimate crews and held to ransom by the pirates, but some would choose to stay, naturally!