Corporal Punishment & Punishment Warrants


By the Commissioners for Executing the Office of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, &c.

Whereas we think fit that, in futures no Corporal Punishment shall take place on board His Majesty's Ships and Vessels, except under the Regulations set forth in the accompanying Memorandum: We hereby desire and direct, that the strictest attention be paid thereto by every officer commanding any of his Majesty's Ships or Vessels of War.

Given under our hands this 13th Nov. 1830.

To: All Commanders in-Chief, Captains, Commanders, and Commanding Officers of His Majesty's Ships and Vessels.

Melville, Cockburn, H. Hotham, Castlereagh, Charles Ross,.

By Command of their Lordships,

J. W. Croker.

Admiralty-Office, 13th Nov. 1830.

THE Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, having taken into consideration the important subject of corporal punishments in the Navy, are thoroughly convinced that it is requisite for the maintenance of the present efficiency, regularity, and even safety of our ships-of-war, as well as for preserving their superiority over ships-of-war of other nations, that the power of inflicting corporal punishment, when necessary, should remain solely with and under the responsibility of the Captain or Officer having the command of any of His Majesty's ships or vessels. But although their Lordships are impressed with this conviction, they nevertheless consider that this power should be exercised with great discretion and all safe forbearance, and therefore that all necessary forms should be interposed which may operate as a salutary control over it, without destroying the principle or diminishing the power itself.

My Lords consequently desire that, on the receipt hereof, you make known to all the captains and other officers in command of His Majesty's ships or vessels under your orders, that they are in future to cause to be made out, and to sign, a separate and particular warrant for every corporal punishment they may respectively find it necessary to order to be inflicted on any man or boy under them command ; which warrant, in all cases of the offence not having been committed under the immediate eye of the captain or officer having the command, is, in addition to the signature of the captain or officer having the command, to bear also that of the complaining officer.

The aforesaid warrant is to set forth the crime committed by the man, his rating, and length of service in the ship, and whether he had previously been complained of, and how often ; the name and rank of the officer, or individual who made the existing complaint against him, the nature of the investigation gone into by the captain, and the names and rank of the witnesses examined previous to the warrant of punishment having been ordered ; and no corporal punishment upon either man or boy, so to be awarded by the authority of a captain or officer having the command of one of his Majesty's ships or vessels, is, even in extreme cases, to exceed forty-eight lashes, or to take place until twelve hours at least shall have elapsed subsequently to the completing and signing the warrant of punishment hereby ordered ; except in cases of mutiny, when the immediate punishment of the offender may be deemed by the captain or officer having the command, to be absolutely necessary ; but under such circumstances the captain is immediately afterwards to write a detailed statement of the particulars which called for such deviation from the before directed general rule, the degree of punishment inflicted, and all the other points required by the usual warrant, always recollecting the heavy responsibility he will incur if he fail to make out to the satisfaction of their Lordships a real and sufficient cause for such deviation from the course now ordered to be adopted.

But neither the completion of the said warrants, nor any thing above stated, is to be construed as taking from the captain or officer in command of one of his Majesty's ships, the power of remitting any portion or the whole of the punishment ordered in the warrant, if, from the subsequent contrition of the offender, or from other circumstances in his favour, such captain or officer in command shall be so disposed, and in such case the mitigation of punishment ordered is to be noted on the back or at the bottom of the warrant.

In flag ships the signature of the flag officer is to be obtained at the back of the warrant, under the words "approved," in proof of the punishment having received his sanction, in conformity to art. 27, sec. 4, chap. 6, of the general printed Instructions.

The warrants above ordered, with a schedule or list of the same, are in future to be regularly transmitted (with other quarterly returns) through the Admirals commanding on the different stations, to the Admiralty, in lieu of the present reports of punishment ; and it is to be clearly understood, that no persons are to be deemed capable of giving these warrants for corporal punishment of either man or boy, except the captain or officer appointed to command one of his Majesty's ships or vessels, or an officer succeeding to such command by the death or incapacity of the captain or officer who was appointed to the command, - or the officer left in charge of one of his Majesty's ships whilst the captain shall be absent on Admiralty leave, or on leave for a lengthened time granted by a commander-in-chief abroad.

FORM OF WARRANTS to be filled up in compliance with the above order.

Whereas, it has been represented to me by (here insert the name and rank of the officer or other individual making the complaint), that on (here insert the period of the offence being committed, and the name and rating of the culprit, together with his length of service in the ship) did (here insert the particulars of the offence), and having duly investigated the matter, having heard the evidence of ______ and ______ in support of the charge, as also what the prisoner had to offer in his defence, and ______ and ______ whom he called in his behalf, I consider the charge to be substantiated against him, and this being the (1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th, as the case may be) complaint made against him, I therefore adjudge him to receive ____ lashes, according to the custom of the service, on (here insert a period beyond twelve hours) or as soon afterwards as circumstances will admit without inconvenience to the service.

Given under my hand on board his Majesty's ship at the day of _____ 183_

(Signed) ______________Captain.

To be countersigned by _________ complaining officer.

N.B. If the complaint be not made by a commissioned or warrant officer the counter signature is not necessary.

FORM of WARRANT for corporal punishment when the crime has been committed under the immediate eye of the captain or officer in command of one of his Majesty's ships.

Whereas, I observed (here insert the culprit's name and rating, together with his length of service in the ship, afterwards the period, and then the crime committed, as in the preceding form), and this being the fault for which I have had occasion to order him to be punished, I do adjudge him to receive, &,c. (as in former warrant).

Given under my hand, &c.


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