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Leave in H.M. Ships


An Admiralty circular dated April 1860.

On ordinary occasions no officer or man is to be granted leave beyond 48 hours. The officers and crews of ships refitting may be granted a period of four days' leave at the discretion of the Commander in Chief.

On a ship arriving in England from a foreign station, officers were, and stewards may be, permitted to land to purchase any necessary refreshments during the day, but are not to sleep out of the ship.

On the ship's arrival in England [to pay off] the officers and crew are to be kept on board until the work of dismantling is completed. All documents with regard to pay are to be transmitted immediately, and no portion of the crew are to be allowed any leave under these circumstances, except under the sanction of the Commander in Chief, and then not exceeding a period of 24 hours.

On a ship being paid off the leave sanctioned by their Lordships is to be granted, and when an extension is required it must be obtained by the authority of the Commander in Chief.

Their Lordships expect, by the foregoing regulations and indulgences, that no man will be absent without authority when in receipt of his pay.

All men absent without leave from a ship to which ho belongs shall be immediately checked on the ship’s books and pay stopped without he can give a satisfactory explanation which can be approved by the senior officer present.

All seamen going on leave are to be furnished with liberty passes, showing the date and hour of the day on which their leave expires.

All seamen absent from their ships on the day of sailing, from whatever cause, are to be "R.q.*" in the ship's books, their pay and allotments immediately stopped, and a list of those men sent to the Accountant-General.

In all cases in which men are absent from their ships when sailing from a port they may be apprehended, or they may voluntarily join a flag or any other ship at any port. Their names, together with all charges against them as stragglers and deserters, are to be entered on the books of such ship, and they are to be borne only for victuals, and to wait a passage to their own ship. The ratings of petty officers, in such cases, will be suspended, and they are never to be entered on board such flag or other ship with any higher rating than that of A.B., and they are not to be discharged as part complement to any other than their proper ships without express authority from the Admiralty. On reaching their proper slips they will be received as part complement in any rating that may be open at the discretion of the captain, but the "R.q." will never be removed, nor will arrears of pay be allowed, excepting in consequence of strong explanations from the captain to their Lordships.

It is understood that the above was read to ships’ companies following what must have constituted a near mutiny on board some H.M. Ships in the Solent, the most serious problems having taken place on board the Edgar, where I gather the Marines were to be replaced by a unit from ashore and a number of ratings were arrested as a result of the disturbances and were subsequently court martialled, some of the details and punishments being published in the newspapers.

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