By Dean King
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Extra info for A Sea of Words, Third Edition: A Lexicon and Companion to the Complete Seafaring Tales of Patrick O'Brian
Not only was the King a symbol of sovereignty, but he also played a tangible role in day-to-day affairs. Maintaining the prerogative of the Crown to appoint its own ministers, George III was an important influence on national policies and was certainly able to prevent the government from taking measures in which he did not acquiesce. Although after his first bout with insanity in 1788, George III began to leave an increasing amount of business to his ministers, he retained considerable influence over national policy and ministerial appointments throughout the years of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars.
That is why a positive mention in a Captain’s letter following a victorious action was so important. Midshipmen. Ranking just below Lieutenants, Midshipmen were not commissioned sea officers. From 1794, all newly rated Midshipmen were considered to be prospective commissioned sea officers, but this was not the case before that year. During the period of O’Brian’s novels, there were still a number of Midshipmen in the service who were of the pre-1794 type and had no aspirations of being Lieutenants.
19, 1794-Feb. 19, 1801 Admiral John Jervis, 1st Earl of St. VincentFeb. 19, 1801-May 15, 1804 Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount MelvilleMay 15, 1804-May 2, 1805 Admiral Charles Middleton, Lord BarhamMay 2, 1805-Feb. 10, 1806 Hon. Charles Grey, Viscount HowickFeb. 10, 1806-Sep. 29, 1806 Thomas GrenvilleSep. 29, 1806-Apr. 6, 1807 Henry Phipps, 3rd Lord MulgraveApr. 6, 1807-May 4, 1810 Charles Philip YorkeMay 4, 1810-Mar. Mar. 25, 1812-May 2, 1827 Source: J. C. Sainty, Admiralty Officials, 1660-1870 (1975).
A Sea of Words, Third Edition: A Lexicon and Companion to the Complete Seafaring Tales of Patrick O'Brian by Dean King