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The reason that they were called monkeys, is that they took the place of the small boys that served the guns, "powder monkeys"
I am not sure about this ,but, the term " to freeze the balls of a brass monkey " came about when Frobisher was looking for the NW passage?
As I said , unsure??
 

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The Truth

According to the United States Navy Historical Center, this is a legend of the sea without historical justification. The center has researched this because of the questions it gets and says the term "brass monkey" and a vulgar reference to the effect of cold on the monkey's extremities, appears to have originated in the book "Before the Mast" by C.A. Abbey. It was said that it was so cold that it would "freeze the tail off a brass monkey." The Navy says there is no evidence that the phrase had anything to do with ships or ships with cannon balls.
 
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