Thursday, 14 February 2019

Limes, Limeys and Insults

A "Lime-juicer". 
The American-built clipper Fatherland, built 1854. Renamed Swiftsure and operated by the British company R & H Green of Blackwall on the London-Melbourne run from 1857 to 1871. 1326 tons. Wrecked at Tripoli in 1888. Hand-coloured lithograph by Thomas Goldsworthy Dutton and William Foster, inward bound off Dover. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Limes, Lime-juicers and Limeys

The origin of the affectionate slang term "limey" for the British is usually told as though it has a long history back to the early 18th century, because limes were used to prevent scurvy in the Navy.

From the 17th century on the British sailors and colonists had been famously associated with limes because of the use of lime juice in the potent alcoholic mixture called punch. Punch appears to have been an invention of the employees of the British East India Company while stationed in India. At the least, it was enthusiastically taken up by them soon after its invention. It was very quickly adopted by sea-farers of all Western European nations. In the East Indies it was made with arrack distilled from palm wine, in the West Indies it was made with rum and in Britain it was made with brandy.

I have separated the section on Punch that I had written here, to keep this as simple as possible. There are many more references to the use of limes in the 17th and early 18th centuries in that piece.

The lime fruit as a deliberate preventative of scurvy only became particularly associated with British sea-faring after 1845 when the British Government started the change from mostly Sicilian lemons to West Indian limes. There had been a crop failure of Sicilian lemons and the Government wanted a secure, British-owned source of citrus fruit. So they encouraged the sowing of lime plantations on Caribbean islands subject to earthquake and hurricanes.

Much more after the break:

"Lime-juicer" was reported to be used of the British ships of the merchant fleet by sailors of the United States as early as 1851. The term "lime-juicer" was also used as an insult against new British immigrants to Australia in the 1850s. The news of spectacular finds of gold in New South Wales and Victoria in 1851 sparked a Gold Rush. About 500,000 immigrants sailed to Australia from Britain and Ireland between 1851 and 1860. For the first time the majority of the immigrants to Australia came of their own free will.

Many of the Australian-born Europeans resented the new-comers. The insult suggested that the new-comers were still stained with the lime-juice of their recent long sea journey. The 42,000 Chinese who arrived at the same time would have had their own insults and victimisation.

"Limey" was first recorded as used by Australians for new-comers in 1888. In 1918 "Limey" as a name for British sailors was first recorded in print, used by a citizen of the United States.

Although "limey" might be meant as an insult, I find it very difficult to take seriously. I would be fighting the urge the giggle if someone called me a limey to my face. Surely only someone desperate to feel offended could be offended by it?

The other famous Australian insult for the British, "pom" is also difficult to take seriously even from a bigot full of hate. "Pom" comes from another delightful fruit, the pomegranate. Australians used it as badly-rhyming slang for immigrant. I am proud to be recently descended from immigrants into England and proud of their benefit to the economy of this country. Many countries depend on their immigrants for a large part of their economy. Many of those immigrants still face exclusion, bigotry and social and legal barriers despite that contribution.

How could you hate pomegranate or limes unless you are a hateful sort of person, have sensitive teeth or are allergic? As a typical Brit I occasionally use essential oil of lime in the bath. I also use lime-juice in such typically British dishes as guacamole, curry, chili and mushy pea hummus with mint. Lime juice also goes very well in fresh watermelon juice, giving the little bit of acidity needed to balance the sweetness and bring out the flavour.

What is a lime?

The botanical identity of the lime is tricky. Much laboratory time has been spent in recent years trying to unpick the complicated ancestry of the Citrus trees that provide so many well-loved fruits, flowers and essential oils. It seems that most of the cultivated Citrus fruit are hybrids, probably from varieties of four main species that originated in South East Asia. The founder species were citrons (Citrus medica), the pomelos (Citrus maxima), the papedas (Citrus micrantha or a closely-related species) and the mandarins (Citrus reticulata).

The West Indian lime or Key lime which produced the lime-juice for British shipping is called Citrus aurantifolia. These limes are hybrids of several types but all are just between citrons and papedas.

The usual lime of commerce is the Persian or Tahiti lime (as with all other Citrus, it has many other names), Citrus x latifolia. This comes from a hybrid of a lemon with a Citrus aurantifolia lime. The lemon is thought to be a cross between a bitter orange and a citron. The bitter orange is thought to be a hybrid between a pomelo and a mandarin. Which means that the Persian limes have all four founder species as ancestors.

The Rangpur or Rangpur lime (Citrus limonia) is a hybrid between citrons and mandarins, making it look genetically very like a lemon. Some other Indian "limes" are the same, and some others are similar but with a dash of pomelo as well.

The sweet limes are a mixed bag of confusion I will not be opening here. All the ones that have been tested seem to have no papeda in their heritage and the ancestry looks very like that of lemons.

The citron only ever contributed to the commercial hybrid lemons and limes as the pollen donor (or father), not the seed producer (or mother).

This simplified picture shows the family tree of some limes and lemons. It is from this paper, detailing the relationships of a large number of limes and lemons.

The makrut or combava lime (Citrus hystrix) is usually regarded as a species of its own. It is closely related to Citrus micrantha and Citrus ichangensis, so is included among the "papedas". It looks like a corrugated lime and smells powerfully, lingeringly and very distinctively like a liquoricey-aniseed. The fruit is usually only used medicinally. The leaves are the popular lime leaves used in Thai and South East Asian cuisine. There is a popular movement to stop calling it a Kaffir or Caffre lime as "Kaffir" is a very nasty word for black people in South Africa.

Some of the Australian native Microcitrus are called finger limes. Australian Eremocitrus are the desert limes (a dry place rather than pudding, though they can also be used for pudding). They are green, tangy and some do have the characteristic lime flavour. Both of these genera are now placed in Citrus by some botanists. They are distinct species from the mess of hybrids in commercial production but are now being used in breeding new Citrus varieties.


The limequat is a modern hybrid between the kumquat (Citrus japonica) and a Key lime. Very juicy and mildly acidic, though not as sharp as a lime. Better tasting than a kumquat but that is a low bar to clear. Still very seedy like the kumquat. Makes a nice drink when one part of juice is diluted with two parts of water. The scent of the peel has a hint of lime in it. The example I photographed was about 5 cm (2 inches) long.

Cut limequat.

There are unrelated plants that have been called limes. The Ogeechee lime (Nyssa ogeche) is a small tree that grows in swamps in the south east United States. It has edible acidic fruit that apparently make a nice drink.

In Jamaica, Wild Lime can refer to a relative of the mangosteen, Garcinia humilis (or, some botanists argue, Rheedia lateriflora). The edible fruits are pleasant and acidic, A jelly made from them was said to be "very agreeable to convalescents".

There are also the lindens, which have been called limes in English since the 17th century. Botanically they are the genus Tilia, unrelated to Citrus. Limes are now regarded as part of the recently much expanded Malvaceae. The Malvaceae family was best known for cotton, mallow, marshmallow and okra but now also includes baobab, chocolate, cola, jute and kapok. These limes are common ornamental trees in northern Europe. Their flowers are used for tasty and medicinal teas, such as the tilleul that is so popular in France. The French may like it so much as it is a potent sedative that can bring sleep even after a day of indulgence in coffee.

In older descriptions we cannot be sure what type of Citrus was being described. There was much confusion in many languages. Lemons, limes and citrons cannot be distinguished in old texts unless some description was given that is specific to one or another.

What is a lime? Whatever you want it to be. Limes can be green, yellow, orange or reddish. Limes can be sweet or acidic. Limes can be smooth and round or lemon-shaped or knobbly. Limes can smell of limes or lemons or bergamot or liquorice. Limes don't even have to be a Citrus.

Early mentions of Limes and Lime Juice

The earliest mention we have of limes was from 1404, written in Spanish in 1412. Vida y hazañas del gran Tamorlan con la descripción de las tierras de su imperio y señorío (Life and Works of the great Timur with the description of the lands of his empire and mastery) was written by a courtier of Henry III of Castile, Ruy González de Clavijo. Ruy had travelled to the court of Timur (or Tamerlane) at Samarkand as an ambassador of the Castilian King.

Ruy's description of the Greek island of Rhodes included:
...and the harbour of this city is large, and well guarded next to the walls of the city, and it has two very fine foundations of recent construction, called piers, which enter the sea and between the two there are the ships. On one of these piers there are fourteen windmills; and outside the town there are many houses, and very beautiful fruit gardens, and many citron, and lime, and lemon, and many other fruit trees.
Later he described Guilan, now in northwest Iran:
And in this land of Guilan snow never falls, it is so hot, and there are many citrons and limes and oranges.
In the original Spanish
...y el puerto que esta ciudad tiene es bien grande, y bien guardado junto con el muro de la ciudad, y hay dos como cimientos muy grandes de recia obra, que llaman muelles que entran por el mar, entre medias de ambos a dos es puerto do están las fustas. Y en el uno de aquellos muelles están hechos catorce molinos de viento, y de fuera de la ciudad hay muchas casas y huertas muy hermosas, y muchas cidras y limas y limones, y otras muchas frutas;... 
Y en esta tierra del Guilan nunca cae nieve, tan caliente es, y hay muchas cidras y limas y naranjas.

The Padshah (Emperor) Babur was the founder of the Mughal dynasty. He was also the great-great-great-grandson of Timur. Babur was a very unusual royal. In about 1526, Babur wrote an autobiography in his native Chagatai Turkic language. In 1826 an English translation was published as Memoirs of Zehir-Ed-Din Muhammed Baber, Emperor of Hindustan writen by himself in the Jaghatai Turki... In one section he wrote about the fruit of India, including several Citrus. One he called Lîmu, translated in the English edition as lime:
Another is the lime, which is very plentiful. Its size is that of a hen's egg, which it resembles in shape. If one who is poisoned, boils and eats its fibres, the injury done by the poison is averted.
The translators also had the kilkil lime or kilmek, which they thought to be the galgal or gulgul lemon, which looks like a lemon but is not, exactly.

Citrus fruit, all originally from East Asia, were introduced to the Americas very soon after the invasion by Europeans. In 1547, only 55 years after the first Europeans invaded the Caribbean, Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés wrote of the island of Hispaniola (now divided between Haiti and Santo Domingo) that:
Here are many lemons and limes and many citrons and of all these it is said many and very good... 
In the original Spanish :
Ay muchos Limones y limas y muchos cidros y de todo esto que es dicho mucho y muy bueno.

Thomas Herbert recounted a visit to Madagascar in his A relation of some yeares travaile, begunne Anno 1626 published in 1634.
Gold and Silver is of no value amongst them; but the beads of Agats, Bracelets, Glasses, Bels and such like, they esteeme well of.
They have cattle both great, many and good, yea, and good cheap; for a Bead or two of two-pence value, wee buy sheep and beeves of good bignesse and taste, the sheep here (as in Abrabia, Syria and Persia) are as heavy in their tailes as bodies: some weighing sixteene some twenty pounds. And for Pins and Needles, Bels, Glasses, and such like, they return Beeves, Goats, Sheepe, Hens, Egges, Milke, Tamarinds, Coco-nuts, Palmes, Orenges, Lymes, Lemmons, Plantaines, Toddy, &c.
Due to Etienne de Flacourt's L’Histoire de le Grand Île de Madagascar published in 1658 we know that varieties of orange, lemon, citron and lime were introduced to Madagascar a good time before the 17th century, probably by Arab traders. There is even a lime-like Citrus variety unique to the island called voangasay.

In 1638 Thomas Herbert produced a new, expanded and retitled edition. The first edition had 225 pages, the second had 364 pages excluding the title pages, dedications and index. Despite the new edition describing the same voyage, he had added lymes to the list of produce obtained at another island they had visited soon after Madagascar. This was Mohelia, now called Mwali or Mohéli, part of the Comoro Islands.
Oddly the motto on the shield on the frontispiece of the second book was Pawb yn ŷ Arver meaning "Each to their Custom" in Welsh. I assume this signified approval of the little landscapes on both frontispieces depicting the worshipping of devils, trees and cows.

In 1657, Richard Ligon had his A true & exact history of the island of Barbados published. In it he recommended a marinade for wild boar based on Mobbie, a fermented sweet potato drink, sometimes distilled. To this were added:
Salt, Limons, and Lymes, sliced in it, with some Nutmeg, which gives it an excellent flaver.

In 1658, Charles de Rochefort wrote that vinegar or lime-juice applied to a mosquito bite would relieve the pain. The juice was also used in treating the ulcers caused by chiggers.

In the same book, de Rochefort commented about the cuisine of the native Caribbeans:
...Crabs... ...fricasseed with their own fat, and with juice of Citron and Pyman [chili pepper], which they love passionately, and with which they fill all their sauces. 
In the original French:
...Crabes... ... fricassée avec leur propre graisse, & avec de jus de Citron & du Pyman, qu'ils aiment éperdument, & dont ils remplissent tous leur sauces.

In 1689 (published in 1696), John Ovington visited the slaving port of Malemba (in present-day Angola) with a British East India Company expedition to India. Among the presents given by a local African dignitary in return for presents from the Commander was "a little vessel of lime-juice".

In 1700, lime juice was mentioned in an article by an apothecary called James Petiver in the scientific journal Philosophical Transactions. The juice was used in the preparation of two medicines on the Malabar coast of India. The recipes are found on page 701 and page 705. I can't make sense of the identity of the plants used.

In 1705 (though published in 1895), lime juice was mentioned among possessions described in a legal complaint brought in Massachusetts.

In 1705, a recipe was recorded for dyeing silk to a flesh colour with wild saffron and lime-juice. Wild saffron is what we now call safflower (Carthamus tinctorius). As the botanical name suggests, the flowers of safflower have been used for dyeing for a very long time. Other names in English are mock saffron, dyer's saffron and bastard saffron. The flowers usually give a deep, rich orange or orangey-brown. The plant was almost certainly introduced into Spain by the Moors for use as a dye, as well as for its medicinal uses.

In 1707, Hans Sloane reported that in Jamaica green sweet capsicum was cut, the seeds removed and the flesh lightly boiled. It was then pickled in lime juice, salt and water. Lime juice was also used to make herbal medicines.

In 1707 lime juice was included in the English physician's drawer of acids.

In 1712, A Cruising Voyage Round the World by Captain Woodes Rogers was published.  The privateers had visited the Cabo Verde island of Santo Antão at the beginning of October 1708. They purchased supplies from the Governor of the island, including limes, oranges, bananas, ordinary brandy, tobacco, maize, potatoes, musk- and water-melons and a variety of meats.

In late November 1708 they bought more supplies from Angra dos Reis in Brazil. This included limes, maize and fowls. In July 1709 they arrived at Gorgona Island, now in Colombia, and bought more limes, with guavas, plantains and various meats. In March of 1710 they reached Guam and resupplied with limes, oranges, coconuts and meat.

In 1710 Botanologia. The English Herbal: Or History Of Plants by William Salmon classified the medicinal actions of lime-juice as among the confortatives (strengthening, cheering, comforting), mesentericks (stimulates the intestines), chylificks (producing digestive juices) and analepticks (restoratives). Salmon also recommended lime-juice for pickling garden cucumbers and dressing boiled leeks.

In the 1719 novel by Daniel Defoe, when Robinson Crusoe was first marooned he found a valley with abundant grapes, limes and lemons. Near the end of his adventures, Robinson Crusoe was given two bottles of lime-juice.

In a powerful speech against slavery in 1789, William Wilberforce mocked the slaver's claims that the slaves' "apartments are perfumed with frankincense and lime-juice".

Sauerkraut and Fruit against Scurvy

Apparently oranges, lemons and green vegetables had been known to prevent scurvy by sailors, captains and ship's doctors since before the beginning of the 16th century. Vasco de Gama's 1497 expedition recorded the curative effect of citrus fruit. Scurvy was a serious threat to anyone on a long ocean voyage, as many as 90% of the sailors died of scurvy on some voyages. The press gangs who kidnapped young men for service in the Navy were necessary to keep the numbers up. Few sane men would voluntarily face those odds of dying. Most of the insanely patriotic ones had already died.

British navy ships reaped the benefits of the institutional and compulsory use of sauerkraut and citrus, with their opponents often malnourished. The Dutch, however, also loved their zuurkruid fermented cabbage (now more usually called zuurkool) and suffered less from scurvy than most navies. Part of the success of the Dutch East India Company may have been because of their partial control of scurvy.

One 1598 expedition of the Dutch East India Company not only took lemon juice but also grew horseradish and scurvy-grass on the ship. Fresh horseradish leaf can contain between 280 and 350mg of vitamin C in every 100 grammes. The younger leaves have the higher concentration. That is 7 times more vitamin C than fresh orange juice. 12 grammes of fresh horseradish leaf, less than half an ounce, would be enough to provide the current UK government recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Horseradish is a very quick-growing and easy plant to cultivate.

Scurvy grass has much less vitamin C, it has been analysed at between 50 and 83mg in 100 grammes of fresh leaf. That is about the same content as fresh orange juice. The growing plant did have the advantage of being resistant to salt. Obtaining more to restock the ships was easy as it grew naturally around sea coasts and in salt marshes.

On a voyage on the Resolution in 1772, Captain Cook took 100 pounds of sauerkraut and 25 pounds of pickled cabbage per sailor. He only had a few gallons total of “rob of oranges and lemons” between 200 crew. Rob is a boiled-down sugary syrup. The rob was saved for the serious cases as a last resort. Other ships had used lemon juice preserved with one part in five or seven of brandy. I am not sure if the pint of carrot marmalade for each crewman would have helped much.

Captain Cook wrote that "sour krout... ...can never be enough recommended”. Perhaps that was because it did not need to be cooked before consumption so was less likely to lose its vitamin C. It was also eaten in larger portions than the rations of citrus fruit.

The switch to limes started in 1845 when William Reid, the Governor of Bermuda, suggested to the British Government that the standard lemon juice from various unreliable European sources could be substituted with British Empire limes.

The Grinnell Expeditions into the Arctic in 1850-1851 and 1853-1855 were organised and crewed by men from the United States. However, the ship's physician Elisha Kent Kane used sauerkraut and lime juice to prevent scurvy, following the British practice. Not very successfully. All of the crew suffered from serious ill-health in varying degrees. This may have been due to general malnutrition rather than the particular lack of vitamin C. Kent himself returned from the second Arctic expedition a broken man. He died in Cuba in 1857 soon after his 37th birthday.

In 1852 Ainsworth's Magazine: A Miscellany of Romance, General Literature, and Art (XXI: April 353-354, London) carried instalments of Rough Notes from my Diary by Joseph Anthony, Jun., from his experiences as a passenger on a British merchantman out of Liverpool bound for California. Section IV contained references to lime-juicers in the entry for July 1, 1851:
Whilst the American was leaving us behind, a squall coming on, our top-gallants were speedily clewed up; yet the Yankee did not touch a single sail. "As long as we lime-juicers are in sight," observed our first-mate, in reply to a remark I made as to the relative speed of the vessels, "they will carry every rag of canvas; out of our sight, they would clew up fast enough. Going on deck, the Yankee skipper will say to his chief - for so they call the officer in my place, that is, first mate - 'How is the lime-juicer? Has he clewed up?' 'Yes.' 'Well, then, I guess we'll carry him to eternity.'"
Our first-mate further informed me, that American vessels do not make use of lime-juice, the food given to the crew being sufficiently good to render such antidote to scurvy unnecessary; and hence the appellation of lime-juicers being derisively applied by them to the British. How far this may be correct I cannot undertake to declare.

The UK government passed the Merchant Shipping Act in 1854 (17° & 18° Victoriæ C.104; 224), which contained the following legal requirement, among other "Medicines and Medical Stores suitable to Accidents and Diseases arising on Sea Voyages":
The Master or Owner of every Foreign-going ship [Except those bound to European, Mediterranean, North American East Coast (above North Carolina) or Atlantic island ports (above the 35th Parallel)]... ...shall serve out the Lime or Lemon Juice or other such Articles as aforesaid and Sugar and Vinegar to the Crew, whenever they have consumed Salt Provisions for Ten Days, and so long afterwards as such Consumption continues, the Lime or Lemon Juice and Sugar daily at the Rate of Half and Ounce each per Day and the Vinegar weekly at the Rate of Half a Pint per Week, to each Member of the Crew. 
The penalty for not keeping stores of lime or lemon juice was up to £20 (about £2000 in modern equivalents). The penalty for not supplying lime or lemon juice to the crew was £5 per offence.
Thanks, Parliament of the Republic of Namibia!

Because vitamin C was not discovered by chemists until 1912 and not isolated and characterised until 1928, the old sailors had no way of comparing scurvy cures except in the effect on the sick. In comparing citrus fruit they often assumed the more acidic it was, the better it was. So some assumed limes were better at combating scurvy. Some doctors even suggested vinegar or sulphuric acid as a cure for scurvy, as they were even more acidic.

The difference in preparation and storage of the vitamin C supplements meant that there was a lot of variation in their effectiveness. The use of copper pots for cooking made a huge difference by destroying a lot of the vitamin C. Even modern preparation methods destroy a lot of the vitamin C in juices.  According to the USDA Food Composition Databases raw lime juice contains 29.1 mg of Vitamin C in 100 grammes. Canned or bottled lime juice only contains 6.4 mg/100g. Raw lemon juice contains 38.7 mg of Vitamin C in 100 grammes. Canned or bottled lemon juice only contains 14.3 mg/100g. At the dose decreed by law of half an ounce of juice, the crew would only be getting one or two milligrammes of vitamin C daily. In 1867 another Shipping Act was passed that increased the dose to one ounce and attempted to stamp out fraudulent products pretending to be lime juice.

The Persian lime can have much more vitamin C than the West Indian lime that the British planted in their Caribbean colonies. Tahiti limes, a type of Persian lime, have been recorded as having between 31 and 62 mg/100g of vitamin C.

Perhaps the fastest "lime-juicer" in history. 
The Lightning of the Black Ball Line out of Liverpool. Built 1854 by Donald McKay in Boston, Massachusetts, 2,084 tons, length 244 feet (74 metres). Destroyed by fire at Melbourne, October 1869. Drawn by C. Parsons, lithograph by Nathaniel Currier 1854. 

There was much concern in 1856 when the James Baines, considered the fastest clipper on the Australia run, was very late returning to Liverpool. The Lightning, her sister ship of the Black Ball line, caught up to the James Baines on the 1st of November, despite having set off three weeks after her rival. They were close enough for passengers to shout to the other ship. The passengers of the Lightning jokingly offered to take the James Baines in tow, to let Liverpool know they were coming and
a most commendable solicitude as to their stock of “lime juice,”
The Lightning beat the James Baines into the Mersey by almost a day, arriving on the 21st of November, having taken 84 days from Melbourne to Liverpool.

The song Can't you Dance the Polka? was around in many forms since at least 1853.  One version published in 1913 had the young lady in New York being courted by a "lime-juice sailor". She found that he compared badly with her "flash man" who was a Yankee who sailed in the Black Ball Line.

In 1856 a Select Committee of the Houses of Parliament included questions on adulterated lime juice and its lack of effect against scurvy in their hearing of evidence from an expert witness, a Professor of Chemistry from Sheffield.

Several "lime-juicers" in Hobson's Bay, south of Melbourne.
From left to right: Kent, Lightning, White Star, Malabar
From a painting by Captain DO Robertson, one-time captain of The Lightning.

In 1856 Charles Nordhoff (a German-born citizen of the United States) published a memoir of his experiences working on merchant ships from both the United States and Britain. He used the phrase "lime-juicer" of British merchant vessels eight times in The merchant vessel : a sailor boy's voyages to see the world.
But with British sailors, this matter is entirely different. One may be able as possible, if there is found any flaw, however slight, in his seamanship, if he is so unfortunate as to get hold of work which he cannot do, or if he appeals to a shipmate for information on any point of duty, he is directly looked down upon as "no sailor". Thus, to make a trip in a British vessel is considered no bad criterion of an American sailor's merits, and to have "weathered a voyage in a lime-juicer" is something to be mentioned with pride in the forecastle.
He used "lime-juicer" just twice in Whaling and Fishing published in the same year. Nordhoff is most well-known for his books "California for Health, Pleasure and Residence" (1873) and The communistic societies of the United States : from personal visit and observation, including detailed accounts of the Economists, Zoarites, Shakers, the Amana, Oneida, Bethel, Aurora, Icarian and other existing societies; their religious creeds, social practices, numbers, industries, and present condition. (1875)

Joseph Sturge VI, a  Birmingham entrepreneur, Quaker and philanthropist, had visited the West Indies in 1836-7 to investigate the results of the abolition of slavery in the British colonies. He was horrified by the continued institutional ill-treatment of slaves who had, theoretically, been freed. He published his concerns in 1838 and testified before the House of Commons. His investigations led to the reform of the "apprenticeship" system. His book on his investigation into the United States slave trade gave much support to the free states campaign against slavery. He was also a campaigner for universal suffrage in Britain and a member of the Anti-corn Law League.

A Montserrat lime grower called Francis Burke approached Joseph's brother Edmund Sturge, who had a chemical factory in Birmingham. Edmund had been buying Sicilian lemons as a source of citric acid but there had been a disastrous crop failure. Francis and Edmund entered into a contract in 1853.  In 1855 Edmund bought three adjoining estates on Montserrat to plant up with lime trees.  . The intention was to provide benevolent and well-paid employment to the black population of the island. They wanted to prove that it was possible to make a profit using the labour of free black people. The Sturges founded a school and sold land to employees at affordable prices to promote smallholding.

A Criminal Diversion

In case you are worried about the poor Sicilian citrus farmers, the lemon orchards recovered quickly. A boom in demand for Sicilian lemons led to huge exports in the 1850s. Citrus production could produce 60 times the profit of any other crops on the island. In 1850 the port of Messina exported about 216 million lemons and 120 million oranges, along with lemon juice, salted lemons and citrus perfumes. At over 9 million lire, the citrus products were worth 38% of all of the exports from Messina that year. The majority of the citrus exports went to the United States. A recent paper suggests that weak government and absent policing, poverty-stricken peasants, large returns from lemon orchards and fragmented land ownership combined to lead to the rise of the mafia in Sicily.

Some Sicilian peasants realised they had nothing to lose so many became bandits. They preyed on lemon-growers who were rich but had relatively small holdings of land. The individual citrus farmers could not afford their own security so the mafia provided security for transport of payments and lemons. This was a more or less legitimate business analogous to modern-day security companies who guard cash and valuables in transit.

However, the mafia flourished as they got more powerful and became go-betweens for the growers and exporters. They got more violent and criminal in marketing their services. They wanted a monopoly and they were heavily-armed and ruthless. The protection racket was a natural progression. The threat of robbery was not common in more well-regulated countries. The mafia themselves produced that threat when they moved in. Their connection to import/export then led to involvement in drug smuggling. The diversification into criminal activities was probably promoted by the expansion of Florida citrus production and a reduction in worldwide demand for citrus at the end of the 19th century. The various mafia gangs are now thought to control about 12% of the Gross Domestic Product of Italy.

Full page advert for the Montserrat Company Lime Juice.
They proudly declared that "The Montserrat Lime Juice enterprise 
was established by the philanthropist Edmund Sturge 
to provide work for the liberated slaves"
The Chemist and Druggist Dec 15th 1883

Back to the Caribbean. 

The Sturge family formed The Montserrat Company in 1869 to separate the lime juice production from the Birmingham chemical company. The Montserrat Company became the exclusive supplier to of lime juice to Messrs. Evans, Sons & Co. of London and Liverpool. Others soon followed their example on Montserrat and other Caribbean islands ruled by the British.

The Montserrat Company lime juice appears to have been better than competitors because they did not squeeze every drop out of the fruit. They would squeeze two-thirds of the juice out for sale as juice. The rest of the juice was then squeezed out separately and boiled down before transport as a concentrate to Britain. The concentrate was then just used to make citric acid for pharmaceutical and industrial uses. Who would bother drinking juices made from concentrates, after all?

The Island of Montserrat: Its History & Development 
chiefly as regards its Lime Tree plantations, 1878
Promotional pamphlet produced by Evans, Sons & Co.
From an article on the Kew Gardens Website

The 1899 San Ciriaco hurricane affected Montserrat very badly. About 100 people were killed and most buildings and lime orchards were destroyed. The Montserrat Company replanted and continued, still led by a Sturge until its takeover by a Canadian group in 1961.

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has “lime-juicer” as a pejorative for newly-arrived immigrants to Australia (or “new chum”) in 1859. They had just arrived on (presumably British, long-distance) ships and so had not yet “got the lime-juice off them”.
The quotes in the OED are from pages 49 and 58 of this book.

William Kelly (or Kelley) was born in Camphill, Sligo County, Ireland. In his 30s he travelled to California for the gold rush and wrote a book on his experiences there. He left America for the Australian gold rush and arrived there in 1854. In the December 1858 to May 1859 collected edition of Harper's New Monthly Magazine (of New York), Kelly had a piece published called The Golden Elephant. In Ballarat in the Central Highlands of Victoria:
He was brought into intimate acquaintance with the "Joes" (policemen), and was shown how an unproductive hole may be judiciously salted (sprinkled with gold dust), and sold to an unsuspecting lime-juicer (greenhorn). He saw the celebrated hole whence was dug by a lucky fellow a chunk of solid gold weighing 137 pounds. The fortunes of this hole show sufficiently the uncertainties of gold mining, and how near an unlucky man may come to a fortune without grasping it. It was first opened for a few feet, and then shepherded by three different parties, each going through the ceremony of taking out a few shovelfuls of earth to establish their claim, and then watching their neighbors. The last party sunk it sixty feet, and then, finding no promise, left it. It lay untouched for some time, until a party of "new chums" entered it, more to try their hands at shaft-sinking than with the hope of making any thing. But lo! after digging three feet, one of the lime-juicers struck his pick on a lump of something not hard enough for stone, nor soft enough for clay. Digging away the earth they saw before their eyes the glittering lump. After obtaining a guard to protect the treasure, it was quietly pryed out. Around it was found a litter of little nuggets, to the value of $1500. The big lump was worth over $33,000! and all obtained in a few hours.
In 1859, William Kelly also published his book Life in Victoria ; or, Victoria in 1853, and Victoria in 1858, showing the march of improvement made by the colony within those periods, in town and country, cities and diggings. He was obviously a "lime-juicer" himself and used the phrase four times in his description of the "mean, pettifogging spirit of jealousy" between the old-timers and the new arrivals. He did end by suggesting that things had improved very much by 1858 simply because of the huge influx of new colonists. Later on he visited the British Columbia gold rush in Canada but never completed the manuscript for that book.

In May 1859, Ballou's Monthly Magazine published GH Bascombe's original short story called  Lime-juicing a tyrant*. The footnote described the meaning of the title.
* A slang term, applied by our merchant seamen to the act of shipping men on board English ships without their consent, and derived from the fact that all ships of that nation furnish a daily ration of lime-juice to their crew as a corrective of scorbutic affections Hence the term "lime-juicer," applied to their ships, and "lime-juicing," applied to the forcible shipment of Americans therein.

In 1860 the admiralty contract for supplies to the Royal Navy specified West Indian lime juice.

HMS Alert and HMS Discovery were taken on an expedition to the edge of the Arctic Sea off the north shores of Nunavut and Greenland in 1875-1876. The British crews had plentiful supplies of lime-juice. Unfortunately they could not thaw out the large bottles without breaking them. They could only use the lime juice from June onwards when the weather was warm enough. Many of the crew suffered from scurvy.

Carr's Lime Fruit Juice Biscuits. The Chemist and Druggist June 15th 1878
Carr's of Carlisle were eaten by United Biscuits in 1972 
which was in turn eaten by pladis global in 2014.

Wenhams Lime Juice Saline. The Chemist and Druggist Feb 15th 1879
The acidity of natural lime juice was reduced by mixing
it with alkaline potassium compounds.

                The Bulletin (Sydney, Australia) Vol. 6 No. 66 (30 Apr 1881)

The name Penny Morning Limejuice was a mean dig at the Sydney Daily Telegraph. The Telegraph cost one penny for 4 pages and the Bulletin cost three pence for 16 pages.

The proprietor of the Telegraph was Angus Mackay, born in Aberdeen in Scotland. Mackay had been brought to Australia with his family in 1827, at the age of three. He was elected to the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales for the first time in 1868 and served as a government minister for over 5 years. Angus Mackay's politics were liberal and reformist. In 1879, over 50 years after his arrival in Australia, he founded the Telegraph.

The two founders of the Bulletin were born in Australia, John Haynes in 1850 and JF Archibald in 1856. The Bulletin's original stance when founded in 1880 has been characterised as: 'racist, isolationist, protectionist and "masculine" '. It seems they still saw Angus Mackay as a lime-juicer despite Angus having lived in Australia for decades before they were born.

 The Bulletin closed in 2008. The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) is now owned by News Corp Australia.

                           Sydney Daily Telegraph  No. 566 (25 Apr 1881)

With the task of supplying all British shipping the production of limes and lime-juice exploded. On the 3rd of December 1883, the first lime-juice of the new season arrived at Messrs. Evans, Sons & Co. in Liverpool by ship from Montserrat. This one consignment was 50,000 gallons (225,000 litres) of juice. In 1887 Evans & Co. claimed to be the sole suppliers of lime juice to the British Army and Royal Navy.

In 1884 the OED quote has the “lime-juicer” as a ship. Though the Pall Mall Gazette was published in London, this article was about Australian sailors on ships that plied the Pacific from the eastern coast of Australia to the islands and the evil actions of some of those sailors.
I have known men who had often been engaged in this business confess that they were not fit for long voyages. They would not go on a ‘lime-juicer,’ they said, for anything. (By ‘lime-juicer’ is meant an ocean-going ship, so called because the crew have salt meat served out to them, and lime-juice with it against scurvy.)
Pall Mall Gazette, 26th of August 1884: page 11
(you have to register to get three free pages).

At the Glasgow International Exhibition of 1888 there were three companies exhibiting a wide range of lime cordials, drinks, sauces and sweets. Evans & Co. had the largest selection of products from their Montserrat juice. The essential oils of the lime peel and lime flower were produced as a very lucrative side product.

Feltoe & Sons were exhibiting their brand of lime-juice, called Specialité.

Rose & Co., of Leith, had "a good display of a similar article" at the Glasgow Exhibition. Rose & Co. used Jamaican limes and advertised that those limes produced by other islands were "rank and coarse". Rose's Lime Cordial still exists as a brand though now produced by the Coca Cola Company from Mexican and Peruvian limes.

                                  The Chemist and Druggist Jan 15th 1883

The OED has the first quote for “limey” from 1888. The insult is referring to newly-arrived immigrants in Australia, as was the 1859 phrase "lime-juicer". The poem that contains it is Chasing the Coach, by Alfred T Chandler. The poem was actually first published in Chandler’s collection A Bush Idyll in 1886. The poem is set during an Australian gold rush in 1852. The goldfield was near Maryborough, Victoria in Southeast Australia.
Well, three mornings after, the stringy-bark gums
All rustled their leaves with further surprise,
They’d seen old stagers and limey new chums.
But here were galoots in peculiar guise.

Robert Louis Stevenson (with his stepson Lloyd Osbourne) in 1892 and Jack London in 1912 and 1915 had characters in their novels refer to British ships as "lime-juicers".

Advert in The Bulletin (Sydney, Australia) Vol. 19 No. 964 (6 Aug 1898).

The Australian folk song The Lime-Juice Tub was popular among sheep-shearers, it seems. The song is usually said to derive from the Whaler's Rhyme published by the racist, anti-immigrant newspaper The Bulletin in Sydney in 1898. A version of Whaler's Rhyme was published in the 9th of July 1898 edition but that version does not contain any reference to lime-juice. It is not recorded when the song started to insist that the new chums were to be sent back home on an immigrant ship (or tub)  because of their lack of sheep-shearing skills. Perhaps the phrase lime-juice tub was introduced to the song when the sheep-shearers no longer had an actual tub of tar and a tar-boy to tar the sheep's wounds caused by clumsy shearing.

The Bushwackers' joyful 1985 performance
of the virulently anti-immigrant song.

In 1899, the short story Jenkinson and the Slaver by Harold Bindloss was published in the Gentleman's Magazine. "Lime-juicer" was used to mean a sailor but definitely stated to be a British merchant sailor, not Royal Navy. After accidentally capturing a slaver ship one of the merchant ship's crew says:
Thought we was Her Majesty's seamen, an' if they knew we was only half-starved lime-juicers they'd soon come back again.

Shanties and Forebitters by Mrs Beckett Clifford was published in 1914. I could not find an earlier publisher for the forebitter called The Merchant Ship. A forebitter was a song to be sung in the forecastle (or fo'c'sle) while the sailors were not working. Unfortunately, the book seems not to be available anywhere online. Manchester Central Library claims to have a copy but it was not where it should have been. They are going to let me know if they manage to find it.

The lyrics referenced the Merchant Shipping Acts of 1844, 1867 and 1894 and the limejuice provisions they made compulsory for merchant ship owners. The singers were being sarcastic as many ship-owners would have taken the amounts of food prescribed by law as the precise amount to be provided to the sailor. A generous employer might have regarded the law as stating the minimum necessary and provided more.

In some versions of the song the chorus included the line "God bless the navy, but a merchant ship for me". In others it was "Damn and bugger the navy, boys, a merchant ship for me".

The song appears to have been very popular among sailors until at least the Second World War. Later versions (and also) of the song were called The Merchant Shipping Act, According to the Act, The Lime Juice Act and The Limejuice Ship.

The Limejuice Ship as sung by Roberts and Barrand in 1973.

The first quote in the OED that used “limey” about sailors (rather than "lime-juicer") is from a book published in March 1918. Gunner Depew was written by a sailor in the United States Navy and French Legionnaire, Albert N. Depew. Depew was a native of Walston in Pennsylvania. He also had experience on a US whaler and a British tramp steamer before the War. Depew was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French Government for his service at Gallipoli. He was captured and imprisoned by the Germans later in the war. The Germans let him go in 1917 because he was from the United States.

There were several references to limeys in Gunner Depew’s memoirs of the War. Some were quite respectful. He used “lime-juicer” for the British ships and “limey” for the sailors:
A little while ago I spoke of a British sailor as a “Limey.” The old British ships used to carry large quantities of lime juice aboard, because they thought it was a cure for the scurvy. So, all over the world, British ships are called “Lime-juicers” and their sailors “Limeys.” There is a saying in the merchant marine that the bucko mate of a Lime-juicer is the toughest guy in the world, but they do not think so in the navy.
We have no record of the use of "limey" by sailors of the United States before this. "Lime-juicer" had been used by them since at least 1851 so it might have been a natural progression from that. However, Gunner Depew was a gregarious man with cosmopolitan acquaintances that he had drunk with and brawled with (or against) in many ports around the world, before and during the War. Depew might have picked up the use of the word from an Australian. Depew mentioned meeting Anzacs at Gallipoli in 1915 and at the German prison camp in Dülmen. Australians had been using "limey" to refer to British immigrants for over 30 years by that time.