Regulation and Cost of Messing &c.

Expense in Messes of Her Majesty's Ships

Circulars No 282

Admiralty, 12th December, 1856

My Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty have lately had reason to believe that much greater expense has been incurred by the Messes of Officers in some of Her Majesty's Ships than is sanctioned by Rules and Custom of the Service; and, from complaints which have been made to their Lordships, that mess debts have not been liquidated at the proper time for payment by the Officers contracting them, and claims have consequently been made upon Officers who were subsequently appointed, to subscribe for the discharge of debts to which they had given to sanction.

My Lords have to call the attention of Officers of the Fleet to these irregularities, in order that they be avoided in future ; and their Lordships desire that the Officers of the Ward Room will adopt such measures as will enable their Messes to be maintained with credit and comfort, and free from extravagance, and thus act a becoming example to the junior Officers.

In regard to the Gun Room Messes ; my Lords have on several occasions had brought to their notice circumstances of extravagance and mismanagement, which have been caused by the unnecessarily high subscriptions, and the use of expensive wines and spirits, totally at variance with the custom of the Service and the pecuniary means of the Officers.

With a view of putting a stop to such irregularities, my Lords direct that the subscriptions to the Gun Room Messes shall never exceed the sum of eight pounds for entrance, and that the monthly subscription, including all extras, shall not be more than thirty shillings.

Their Lordships further desire that no wine, except port and sherry or wine of the same class and price, and no spirits, except the ship's allowance, be used in the Gun Room Messes.

No wine, spirits, or beer are to be received on board any of Her Majesty's Ships without the written approval of the Officer in command.

Their Lordships have also been led to believe that in some of Her Majesty's Ships Messmen, under the designation of Stewards, are still permitted to carry on the sale of provisions, wine, spirits, &c, to the Messes of the Officers as well as to the men, in direct contravention of the Admiralty Order of 30th May 1851. The attention of the Officers of Her Majesty's Ships is called to this subject, as nothing can tend so much irregularity in a Mess, as well as to injury to the discipline of a ship, as to permit any person to make a traffic by the sale of provisions, spirits, &c., instead of the Messes being properly conducted by their caterers.

The Commanders-in-Chief and Senior Officers in command of Stations are hereby directed to take the necessary steps for carrying out these Orders.

By Command of their Lordships

R. Osborne

To all Flag Officers, Commanders-in-Chief, &c.

Regulations with regard to to the Mess Accounts of Mates and Subordinate Officers

Circulars No. 242

Admiralty, 10th March 1856

My Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty having reason to believe that a sufficient check has not been imposed in some of Her Majesty's Ships to prevent an extravagent mode of living in the Messes of Mates and Subordinate Officers, desire to call the attention of the Captains and Commanding Officers of Her Majesty's Ships to Chap. 5, Sect. 2, Art. 6, Page 94, of the Admiralty Instructions.

My Lords further direct that in future the Mess Accounts of the Mates and Subordinate Officers of her Majesty's Ships shall be subject to inspection, with all necessary Vouchers, by a Lieutenant, Paymaster and Naval Instructor (when there is one onboard) of the respective Ships, and shall be afterwards submitted to the Captain or Commanding Officer for his approval or otherwise. The Captain is to order this Inspection to take place at the close of each Quarter of the Year, and the Inspecting Officers are to report to the Officer in Command the names of those Officers who may not have paid their Mess expenses, or who may have been the cause of any extravagance in the Mess; also, if there are any outstanding liabilities and to what extent; and the Captains and Commanding Officers are to regulate the amount of entrance money and monthly payments on such a moderate scale as they may consider fit and proper, and the circumstances of each Ship and Station may require, and as the pecuniary means of the Officers may enable them to contribute.

The Captain and Commanding Officers are to report to the Commanders-in-Chief, for their Lordships' information, whenever the Mess Accounts are found to be in an unsatisfactory state, with all the circumstances which may have led thereto.

By Command of their Lordships

R. Osborne

To all Commanders-in-Chief, Captains, &c.

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