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A contract, in maritime law, by which money is borrowed for a specified term by the owner of a ship for its use, equipment, or repair for which the ship is pledged as collateral. If the ship is lost in the specified voyage or during the limited time, the lender will lose his or her money according to the provisions of the contract. A contract by which a ship or its freight is pledged as security for a loan, which is to be repaid only in the event that the ship survives a specific risk, voyage, or period.

A bottomry bond is the instrument that embodies the contract or agreement of bottomry.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


n. a mortgage contract in which a ship and/or its freight is pledged as security for a loan for equipment, repair, or use of a vessel. The contract is generally called a "bottomry bond." If the loan is not paid back, the lender can sell the ship and/or its freight.

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.


a contract in the maritime law, recognized by many nations, concluded in a foreign port for repayment of advances made to supply necessaries, secured on the keel, or bottom, of the ship. The contract is recorded in a bond of bottomry. See HYPOTHEC, RESPONDENTIA.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

BOTTOMRY, maritime law. A contract, in nature of a mortgage of a ship, on which the owner borrows money to enable him to fit out the ship, or to purchase a cargo, for a voyage proposed: and he pledges the keel or bottom of the ship, pars pro toto, as a security for the repayment; and it is stipulated that if the ship should be lost in the course of the voyage, by any of the perils enumerated in the contract, the lender also shall lose his money but if the ship should arrive in safety, then he shall receive back his principal, and also the interest agreed upon, which is generally called marine interest, however this may exceed the legal rate of interest. Not only the ship and tackle, if they arrive safe, but also the person of the borrower, is liable for the money lent and the marine interest. See 2 Bl. Com. 458; Marsh. Ins. B. 21 c. 1; Ord. Louis XIV. B. 3, tit. 5; Laws of Wishuy, art. 45 Code de Com. B. 2, tit. 9.
     2. The contract of bottomry should specify the principal lent, and the rate of marine interest agreed upon; the subject on which the loan is effected the names of the vessel and of the master those of the lender and borrower whether the loan be for an entire voyage; for what voyage and for what space of time; and the period of re-payment. Code de Com. art. 311 Marsh. Ins. B. 2.
     3. Bottomry differs materially from a simple loan. In a loan, the money is at the risk of the borrower, and must be paid at all events. But in bottomry, the money is at the risk of the lender during the voyage. Upon a loan, only legal interest can be received; but upon bottomry, any interest may be legally reserved which the parties agree upon. See, generally, Metc. & Perk. Dig. h. t.; Marsh. Inst. B. 2; Bac. Abr. Merchant, K; Com. Dig. Merchant. E 4; 3 Mass. 443; 8 Mass. 340; 4 Binn. 244; 4 Cranch, 328; 3 John. R. 352 2 Johns. Cas. 250; 1 Binn. 405; 8 Cranch, 41 8; 1 Wheat. 96; 2 Dall. 194. See also this Dict. tit. Respondentia; Vin. Abr. Bottomry Bonds 1 Bouv. Inst. n. 1246-57.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
(26) George Steckley, 'Bottomry Bonds in Seventeenth Century England' (2001) 33 American Journal of Legal History.
It included collisions between ships and injuries committed on the high seas, salvage services not rendered within the body of a county, possession of ships where no title was in question, bottomry and respondentia, and claims for seaman's wages where there had been no special contract.
The law now recognises maritime liens in certain classes of claims, the principal being bottomry, salvage, wages, masters' wages, disbursements and liabilities, and damage.
He did devote a few chapters to personal property, where he described some commercial instruments such as bills of exchange and even the arcana of "bottomry" (a mortgage on a ship).(39) But on the whole, non-landed sources of wealth took a distinctly secondary role to traditional landed property in the Commentaries.(40) He may have understood the growing use of water power for new industrial mills, for example, but he had only a few scattered and somewhat misleading remarks on this rather unsettling form of property, so full of portent for the future.(41)
From worshipping rocks to spreading risk through Phoenician bottomry contracts--a form of ancient marine insurance--both have gradually and quite suddenly adapted various changes over time.
If you think "bottomry" refers to carnal pleasure conducted by ancient Greeks ...
Like the other two innovations, debt forgiveness is not entirely new; it dates back to the origins of insurance in contracts such as bottomry. The idea is to compensate the party suffering a loss not by making a payment but by forgiving a debt.