Naval Gunnery


Admiralty, 14th August, 1839

The Lord, Commissioners of the Admiralty are pleased to direct, that, before any Naval Cadet who may hereafter be admitted into Her Majesty's service shall be rated Midshipman, he shall undergo an examination by a Captain or Commander of one of Her Majesty's ships, assisted by a Naval Instructor (neither of whom are to belong to the same ship as the Candidate), and shall produce a certificate under their hands that he possesses the undermentioned qualifications ; viz. a competent knowledge of Arithmetic, Geometry, and Trigonometry ; a practical acquaintance with the use of the Quadrant, and its adjustments, and with the manner of making the requisite observations and computations for finding the latitude by the Sun, Moon, and Stars ; of taking and working double altitudes, and keeping, a ship's reckoning by the common rules, usually denominated a day's work.

In cases where the Captain, Commander, or Naval Instructor of another ship, may not be available at the time when any such volunteer may became eligible to be rated Midshipman he may be examined by his own Captain or Commander assisted by the Naval Instructor or Master of the ship in which he may be serving. and, on being found qualified, he may be rated Midshipmen ; but in this case the examination is to be made as herein first directed as soon as an opportunity of so doing shall occur, and according to the result of such examination the rating previously given is to be confirmed or disallowed.

By Command of their Lordships,

C. Wood



Admiralty, 19th Oct., 1840

The Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty are pleased to direct that the questions and instructions for the exercise and service of great guns on board Her Majesty's Ships shall form part of the examination of Midshipmen for the rank of Mate or Lieutenant, and that a Certificate shall he given to such only as may answer and understand the several points to which these questions refer; and my Lords further direct that such portions of the Examination in the questions and instructions as can be carried on board Her Majesty's Ship Excellent shall be made there, and that no Candidate for Examination shall be permitted to present himself at the College unless he produces a Certificate from the Captain of Her Majesty's Ship Excellent of his being qualified in Gunnery in addition to the usual certificate of his being qualified in seamanship.

By Command of their Lordships,

R. More O'Ferrall



Admiralty, 30th July, 1842.

Adverting to the directions of my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty which accompany the Question, in Naval Gunnery, issued by them on the 19th October, 1840, I am commanded by their Lordships to refer you to the subjoined Copy of a Letter from Captain Sir Thomas Hastings of the Excellent relative to the state of preparation in which Midshipmen are found to be who present themselves for examination; from which Letter it appears to their Lordship: that those directions have in numerous instances been very imperfectly obeyed, or the results stated by Sir Thomas Hastings would have been more satisfactory.

My Lords therefore desire the particular attention of the several Captains and Commanding officers of her Majesty's Ships to their said directions, and that they will frequently examine the Midshipmen on board their respective Ships, as to their proficiency in the explanations and instructions put forth in the Books on Gun Exercise arid Naval Gunnery so that when Young Gentlemen present themselves for examination on board the Excellent they stay not be found so lamentably deficient in this important portion of their duty.

By Command of their Lord-trips,.

Sydney Herbert

To all Commanders-in-Chief, Flag Officers, Captains, and Commanding Officers of Her Majesty's Ships and Vessels.

Her Majesty's Ship Excellent 8th June, 1842.


I have the honor to report, that since the order of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty was carried into effect, that Candidates should not be examined at the Royal Naval College unless they produce certificates of qualification in Gunnery from the Captain of the Excellent, the Mates and Midshipmen who have presented themselves for examination in Gunnery on board that Ship have been very deficient, not only in a knowledge of the three books on Gun Exercise and Naval Gunnery, issued by their Lordships to all Ships for the instruction of the Mates, Midshipmen, and First Class Volunteers of Her Majesty's Navy, but also in their practical duties as Captain's of Guns and of Officers in command of the Quarters.

I Have therefore permitted them bit hitherto to prepare themselves for examination on board the Excellent during the hours of instruction ; but as it appears to the that great evil would result from perpetuating a system which involves ignorance of Gunnery nearly up to the time of passing, and also that it is clearly the intention of their Lordships that the required knowledge should be gained by Young Gentlemen during their six years of probationary service, under the Gunnery Lieutenants, Naval Instructors, Mates Gunners, and Seamen Gunners, of the Ships in which they are serving, I feel it a duty to request that you will be pleased to state this case to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty and to move their Lordships to signify their pleasure on it.

I have the honor to be, Sir, Your most obedient humble servant,

Thomas Hastings, Captain.

Admiral Sir Edward Codrington G.C.B.

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