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Qualification and Appointment of

Acting Masters' Assistants of the Royal Navy

Admiralty 1 Jan 1841

The Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, having had under consideration the regulations for the appointment of Acting Masters' Assistants, both as regard the required period of their servitude in the Royal Navy, or Merchant Service, and their general attainments in Seamanship and Navigation, are pleased to direct, with reference to the 27th Art. Cap. 3, of the Regulations for Her Majesty's Service, at Sea, that the qualifications for the appointments of Acting Masters' Assistants in the Royal Navy shall in future be as follows:-

He shall have been at sea either in Her Majesty's Navy three complete years, or in the Merchant Service for four years, (one of which as Mate or Inferior Mate) ; or for combined periods of two years in the Royal Navy, and two in the Merchant Service ; or one year in the Royal Navy, and three in the Merchant Service, and shall be full 16 years of age.

He will be required to have a thorough knowledge of Practical Observations of the Sun, Moon, and Stars, for ascertaining the Latitude ; to work double Altitudes ; the Longitude by Chronometer ; and to keep a Ship's reckoning by the common Rules, usually denominated a day's work. He will also be required to produce Certificates of Servitude and Regularity of Conduct.

Candidates for the appointment of Acting Masters' Assistant are to be strictly and carefully examined in the presence of the Captain, or Commander, by a Master and Naval Instructor, and, when there shall not be an officer of the latter Class, by two Masters, touching their abilities in Seamanship, Navigations, &c. The Certificates of Qualifications are to be signed by the Captain, or Commander, as well as by the examining Officers ; and all candidates who shall be found qualified, agreeably to the before-mentioned provisions, will be considered eligible to be appointed by their Lordships as Acting Masters' Assistants in Her Majesty's Navy accordingly.
By Command of their Lordships,
R. More O'Ferrall


Regulations Respecting Masters' Assistants

Admiralty 9 Dec 1851

My Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty have been pleased to issue the following Regulations relative to the future Entry and Examination of Masters' Assistants in the Royal Navy:-

  1. The Entries of Masters' Assistants will be limited to such numbers annually as their Lordships may from time to time direct.
  2. The age and qualifications required for the admission of a Master's Assistant in the Navy are to be in accordance with the following rules, and the examination is to take place at the Royal Naval College.
  3. A Candidate for an appointment as Master's Assistant must not be less than 14, nor more than 16 years of age, [unless he be selected from the Merchant Service, in which case the age is extended to 18, provided he has served two years at sea.] he must be in good health, and produce a certificate of his age, parentage, and regularity of conduct.
    On his entry into the Service, if between the ages of 14 and 15 years, he is to pass the same examination as a Naval Cadet on his first entry.
    If entered between the ages of 15 and 16 years, in addition to the above, he will be required to understand the practical use of the Sextant, and the mode of keeping a Ship's reckoning by working a day's work, and obtaining the latitude by observation.
    If at the age of 18, he will also be required to know the mode of obtaining the longitude by Chronometers, the variation of the Compass, and he must be able to explain the mode of rigging lower masts and bowsprit, and the more simple evolutions of working ship under plain sail.
  4. When a Master's Assistant has completed a servitude of three years with that rating, he must be examined by the Captain or Commander and the Senior Lieutenant as to the progress he has made in obtaining a proper knowledge of practical seamanship in all its branches fitting, turning in, and setting of rigging, shifting masts, yards, and sails, laying out and weighing anchors by Boats, taking Helm and Lead, stowage of provisions and water, and by the Naval Instructor in his knowledge of Navigation, determining the Latitude and Longitude by day and night observations, the use of Chronometers, the Azimuth Compass, and the mode of constructing charts ; and every Master's Assistant must serve three complete years after this examination before he shall be allowed to pass for Second Master ; an Officer who may have been entered from the Merchant Service must also pass this examination ; but in order that he may not lose the time which he may have served in the Merchant Service, he is to be allowed to pass this examination whenever he shall have completed one-half of the further period which he has to serve in the Royal Navy, and may then pass for Second Master on completing the other half of such servitude.
  5. Masters' Assistants, while serving on board H.M. Ships, are to be instructed by the Naval Instructor, for which he will be allowed the usual tuition money, and the expense will be defrayed by the Admiralty.
  6. The Master of the Ship in which Masters' Assistants are serving is to instruct them in practical seamanship, and other branches of a Master's duty, as directed by the Admiralty Instructions, Chap. VII, Art. 21, page 217 ; and the half-yearly Report, or Form No. 224, is to show the advancement made by them from time to time.
  7. On a Ship being paid-off, Masters' Assistants will be entered on the Books of a Guard-ship, for such time as their Lordships may direct, or until selected for another appointment, provided they possess good Certificates, and are recommended by their Commanding Officer.
  8. Masters' Assistants. when they have completed their regulated period of servitude, and have passed their examinations for Second Master, will be placed on the List of the Navy in that rank, and will if employed receive the commission and pay of a Second Master (being borne in lieu of Masters' Assistants, if there should not be vacancies for Second Masters in the ships in which they may be serving); but they will not be eligible for promotion to the rank of Master until they shall have served two years further in the capacity of Second Master.(
  9. Masters' Assistants passing abroad in Seamanship, and temporarily in Navigation and Pilotage, are to be appointed by their Commander-in-Chief, or by their Commanding Officers, to be Acting Second Masters, in the same manner as is provided for Midshipmen to be rated Acting Mates when they pass their examination for Lieutenant, but they must be borne in lieu of Masters' Assistants.

By command of their Lordships,
John Parker.


Examination for the Rank of Lieutenant.

Admiralty, Jan 1852.

With reference to Art. 21, Chap. 2, Page 21, of the Admiralty Instructions, which provides that Mates, who have already passed their examination abroad, shall pass an examination at the Royal Naval College, within two months of their return to England, in order to entitle them to confirmation from the date of their first Certificate ; and it appearing that some misapprehension has arisen on this point, and that it has been supposed that, provided a Mate passes within the specified period, it is immaterial whether he fail or otherwise, in his first examination at the College ; my Lords desire that, in future, it may be clearly understood, that Mates who have already passed abroad are at liberty to select either the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd examination day at the Royal Naval College, after having been so paid off ; but that if they fail to pass at their first trial their original seniority will not be allowed.

By command of their Lordships,
W.A.B. Hamilton

Note:- This rule applies also to Masters' Assistants and Second Masters.


Circular No. 375.

Admiralty, 15th June, 1859.

Masters' Assistants - Extension of Age for Entry.

Her Majesty having been pleased, by Her Order in Council of the 6th instant to sanction the entry of young gentlemen in the Royal Navy as Masters' Assistants, who shall not be above the age of 20 at the date of nomination, provided they shall have previously served two years at sea ; My Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty hereby make known the same for the information of all whom it may concern.

By Command of their Lordships,
H. Corry.
To all Commanders-in-Chief. &c.


Circular No. 420.

Admiralty, 8th May, 1860.

Master's Assistants - Age of Entry.

With reference to Circular No. 375, extending the limit of age for Candidates entering the Royal Navy as Master's Assistants, from the merchant service! my Cords Commissioners of the Admiralty hereby make known that the age of such candidates must not exceed 20 years, at the date of their Examination at the Royal Naval College ; as provided by Her Majesty's Order in Council of 8th June, 1859.

By Command of their Lordships,
C. Paget.
To all Flag Officers, &c.


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