Paymasters and Clerks, R.N. - Division of Duties.
Completion of Returns : Victualling and Clothing accounts to be included with Cash Accounts.

The following important Admiralty Circular, dated the 10th Mar 1858, has just been issued:-

My Lords have had their attention called to the delay in rendering ships' books and accounts from some of Her Majesty's ships, and under the term "accounts," they desire that it may be clearly understood that "victualling and clothing" accounts are included as well as cash."

My Lords have revised the establishment of Assistant Paymasters, Clerks, and Assistant Clerks, allowed on board Her Majesty's ships, including those employed in the Coast-Guard Service, and they are satisfied that if the directions contained in the 18th and 20th Articles, chapter 1, of the Paymasters' Instructions, and in Circular No. 185, dated 3rd March 1855, are strictly followed, the office staff on board each ship will be found fully sufficient.

The Commanding Officer is authorized to select a Clerk or Assistant Clerk to assist him in his correspondence, and for such other clerical duties as he may require ; but my Lords apprehend that the whole of the time of such Clerk or Assistant Clerk may not always be so occupied, and that a portion thereof should therefore be available for office duties under the Paymaster, and the establishment for each ship has been fixed with that understanding. The commanding officer is, therefore, to direct the whole of the time of the Assistant Paymaster and other Clerks is to be at the disposal of the Paymaster, who is to employ them in the supervision of the victualling and clothing transactions, the receipt and issue of all such stores, as well as in keeping and making up the accounts, books, and documents appertaining thereto, without which it is scarcely possible they can gain sufficient knowledge to pass the necessary examinations as to the general duties required of a Clerk in the mode of keeping ships' books and accounts, the allowance of provisions to the Fleet, and the mode of issuing the same.

Under this arrangement and subdivision of business, it is evident that the Paymaster will have more time to superintend the general duties of his office and stores, although he will be still held responsible for the general accuracy of the ship's books and accounts, as well as the economical expenditure of food and clothing.

To ensure due obedience and attention to these orders, my Lords direct, that before the captain fills up and transmits the half-yearly return of the Assistant Paymasters, Clerks, &c, ordered by Circular No. 106, the Paymaster shall certify in writing to the Captain whether these Officers have discharged their duties in a satisfactory and creditable manner.

A copy of the report is to be inserted in the muster book. As all account-keeping will, under these Regulations, be done by the Paymaster, his Assistant, and Clerks, the ship's steward will attend to the ordinary duties the Paymaster assisting in office duties only when specially directed on account of pressure or other causes.

With reference to Circular No. 259, now cancelled, my lords desire that when no Assistant Paymaster, Clerk, or Assistant Clerk is borne on the ship's books, although allowed in the compliment, the Paymaster is to receive extra pay at the rate of 2s. 6d. per day. When the office staff is short of complement, and in cases of the continued sickness or absence of any Assistant Paymaster or Clerk, the Captain may authorize the employment in the office of any Petty Officer, Non-Commissioned Officer, Seaman, or Marine competent to assist in the clerical duties, and to pay him extra pay of not more than 1s. 3d. per day; also in the ease of performance of official duties in small vessels.

Rates. 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th. 6th Sloop. Small Vessels
Complements. 1100 to 970 930 to 720 620 to 600 560 to 440 350 to 300 260 to 185 165 to 100 100 to 80
Assist. Payrmrs. and Clerks 4 3 3 3 2 2 2 1
Assistant Clerks 1 1 1 1 1      

Ships bearing on their books any large number of permanent supernumeraries will be considered for a special establishment.

Arrangements are to be made in accordance with this Circular without delay.

Source : United Service Magazine 1958 Vol. 1 pp 610-611.