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GUEST,Observer What are 'Quarterdeck Manners'? (20) RE: What are 'Quarterdeck Manners'? 10 Oct 19


Quarter Deckers - Those officers more remarkable for their etiquette than for a knowledge of seamanship" - Admiral W.H.Smyth

While that may well have applied to the man himself it most certainly did not apply in general to the Royal Navy of his time, which was most certainly a system of promotion based on practical meritocracy. You actually had to prove yourself beyond doubt that you were technically proficient and knowledgeable to advance from the rank of Midshipman to Lieutenant. While anyone could purchase a commission at whatever rank you liked in the British Army of the time, you had to prove yourself professionally capable for advancement in the Royal Navy. If you doubt that take a good look at some of the leading lights in positions of command in the Royal Navy and their backgrounds:

French Revolutionary Wars & Napoleonic Wars

Admiral Viscount Lord Horatio Nelson - the sixth of eleven children of a Norfolk Parson - hardly born with a silver spoon in his mouth. One of the most effective, competent and capable naval commanders of all time. He got to where he did through shear ability, application and hard work.

John Jervis, First Earl St. Vincent - ran away to sea and first joined the Royal Navy as an able seaman, ended up as First Lord of the Admiralty:
In 1801 in a letter to the Board of Admiralty regarding the threat of invasion by a French Army, St Vincent made the now famous remark: "I do not say, my Lords, that the French will not come. I say only they will not come by sea."

In 1801 St Vincent was replaced by Admiral William Cornwallis and the new Prime Minister Henry Addington promoted St Vincent to First Lord of the Admiralty.

Edward Pellew, 1st Viscount Exmouth, second son of a Cornish merchant captain. This is how he earned his title when he was a Commodore in the Channel Fleet - He was a good swimmer and noted for saving the lives of several seamen who had fallen overboard. The most striking life-saving event was on 26 January 1796 when the East Indiaman Dutton was carrying more than four hundred troops, together with many women and children, when it ran aground under Plymouth Hoe. Due to the heavy seas, the crew and soldiers aboard were unable to get to shore. Pellew swam out to the wreck with a line and, with help from young Irishman Jeremiah Coghlan, helped rig a lifeline that saved almost all aboard. For this feat he was created a baronet on 18 March 1796

But I daresay all these men were well acquainted with etiquette

Many more examples none of whom were born with a silver spoon in their mouths and all made their way up through the ranks by proving that they were professionally capable.

Interesting to note that Admiral [An honorary rank bestowed upon W. H. Smyth] W. H. Smyth as mentioned died in 1865. Yet His "Word Book" was published in 1867.


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