A purser is an officer aboard a ship who is responsible for handling money on board.


A purser was responsible for the entirety of a ship’s finances and therefore for any necessary purchases of stores. On smaller ships, if no clerk was employed, a purser might be responsible for the entirety of a ship’s administrative paperwork. A purser was not a sailor and would not be expected to be able to take part in any manoeuvres or the running of a ship.

Aboard the Obra Dinn

The Obra Dinn’s purser on her last voyage was a Scot named Duncan McKay. He likely performed the duties of a clerk as well (as none was found on the crew manifest). McKay did not survive the voyage.

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