Ship Rates

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Calpe1704
Petty Officer
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Joined: Tue Jul 04, 2017 7:01 pm

Ship Rates

Post by Calpe1704 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 5:21 pm

May I please ask if there is any source whereby I can tally up a ship Rate with its complement of men (how many) and guns (how many and the types)?

With thanks

Navclio
Commander
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Re: Ship Rates

Post by Navclio » Thu Aug 09, 2018 6:15 pm

I don't understand what you mean by "tally up."

Ship rating systems varied from one country to another, and not all countries had them. Apart from the Venetian system, where a 1st rate had 70 guns, a 2nd rate had 60, and a 3rd rate had 50 (at least in the late 18th century), the rating systems that I know about, used by the British, French, and Dutch navies (the Dutch called them "charters") covered a range of crew and armament establishments. As ships and their artillery increased from the early or mid-17th century (when these systems were first set up) to the early 19th, the range of armaments and crew sizes also changed. There is a comprehensive description of the French rating system in Rif Winfield and Stephen S. Roberts,French Warships in the Age of Sail, 1626–1786: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates (Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Seaforth Publishing, 2017).

As far as I know, the Danish, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish navies did not have numbered systems of "rates." They did apparently have regulations about the number and types of guns and the crew count by total gun count. The British regulations or "establishments' went well beyond total crew count to specify the number of commissioned, warrant, and petty officers of each specialty for each gun count, in addition to the total. A peculiarity of the British crew establishments was the inclusion of "widows' men," a number of able seamen allotted to each vessel that would not actually be aboard. Instead, their wages were allotted to a fund to pay pensions to the widows (and perhaps the orphans) of men who died in service. So the published British total always overstates the number of men who were supposed to be on board. In all navies, of course, the actual count usually differed from the regulations—it was hard to hit a precise number exactly.

Are you interested in a particular navy or navies?

Calpe1704
Petty Officer
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Jul 04, 2017 7:01 pm

Re: Ship Rates

Post by Calpe1704 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 6:38 pm

Hi Navclio,
The information i'm looking for is only for the Anglo-Dutch force that attacked and captured Gibraltar in 1704.

I have both books by Rif Winfield and James Bender, but yet to read them. Clearly I need to do so quickly!

I was assuming that perhaps a First Rate ship (2nd, 3rd etc) had 'x' amount of crew/marines and had 'x' types of cannons etc.

Thanks

Grammont
Warrant Officer
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Re: Ship Rates

Post by Grammont » Thu Aug 09, 2018 10:11 pm

In the Royal Navy, the gun count was additionally used to determine the composition of boarding parties, which were made up of boarders, sail-trimmers and fire-men. Thus we have for a

First Rate of 100 guns - Boarders; four men from each gun on the lower deck, three from each gun on the middle deck, and two from each upper deck gun; in all, 145. To be commanded by the 1st and 7th lieutenants, with two mates and four midshipmen.
Sail-trimmers; two men from each gun on the middle deck, and two from each gun on the upper deck; in all, 70 men, under the direction of the 2nd lieutenant, one mate and three midshipmen.
Fire-men; on man for every gun, in all, 50 men, under the direction of the 3rd lieutenant, one mate, and midshipmen

going all the way down to

24 gun ship - Boarders; 35, under the 1st lieutenant, one mate and one midshipman.
Sail-trimmers; 25, under one mate and one midshipman.
Fire-men; 20, under two midshipmen.

Certainly helps to explain the high attrition rate lieutenants seemed to suffer

Navclio
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Re: Ship Rates

Post by Navclio » Thu Aug 09, 2018 10:15 pm

IN THE ENGLISH NAVY ONLY in 1704 (it didn't become the British navy until 1707) "first rates" had 100 guns and "second rates" had 90 guns. Other rates included ships with a range of guns, for instance, "third rates" could have 80 or 70 guns. Later, first rates included ships designated as having 110, 112, or 120 guns, although all could have more than that number of artillery pieces because of the exclusion of short-barreled, short-range "carronades," added to the original artillery outfit, from the count; likewise, second rates were increased to 98 guns, not counting carronades (so one 19th-century French historian referred to British "98s" as having "104c[anons]." I don't think the Dutch had any ships with 100 guns or more, so their "first charter" ships had fewer, and their "second charter" might not include ships with as many as 90 guns.

I don't see any ship with 100 guns in Admiral of the Fleet Rooke's fleet at the Battle of Velez Malaga, August 13/24, 1740. Admiral Sir Clowdisley Shovell's flagship, Barfleur, was a 96, which I think makes her a "second rate," but you will have to check Winfield for that.

If you have Winfield's volume for the period up to 1713, you should be able to find the specific armament and nominal crew size for each individual ship. Note that these will include the Widows' Men, which generally amounted to about 2% of the establishment crew, so a fully-crewed ship with an establishment crew of 500 would actually have only 490 men on board. Ships were sometimes overcrewed, especially if they were being sent on a foreign expedition to the East or West Indies, in anticipation of losses from disease, and sometimes the number of men available was not sufficient to fill out the crews to the establishment. Moreover, there were often deaths from disease during an expedition or cruise, leaving ships undermanned according to the establishment. The only way to know how many men were on board on any particular occasion would be to get the muster book for the commission, start with the count at the beginning, and add and subtract up to the date in question, such "August 13" [in the English calendar], 1704.

If James Bender's book goes as late as 1704, that will probably be your best and most convenient source for the armaments and nominal establishment crews of the Dutch ships in Rooke's fleet. I have never encountered any suggestion that the Dutch (or anyone else) had anything equivalent to Widows' Men.

Note that while English naval history writers have applied the terms "first rate," "second rate," etc., to foreign navies, and as shorthand terms for their own, the "rates" were actually pay rates for the officers in the English/British navy: a captain of a first rate got more than a captain of a second rate who got more than the captain of a third rate, etc. The same was true for lieutenants and the warrant officers (master, boatswain, carpenter, gunner); I think that in the case of lieutenants, there were really only two pay rates, one for lieutenants in first and second rates, the other for lieutenants in third, fourth, fifth, and sixth rates. The English and later the British navy also had "unrated" ships. The commanding officers of these ships did not have the rank of captain. In the English navy in 1704 (and since at least about 1660, and until about the end of the 18th century), the only way to become a "captain" in the navy was to be appointed the permanent commanding officer of a ship of one of the six "rates"—you could not be promoted to the rank of captain without such an appointment. ("Acting" commanding officers, substituting for a captain who was away from his ship on temporary duty, but was expected to return to it, retained their existing rank of lieutenant unless they already had the rank of captain by virtue of commanding a rated ship.)

Calpe1704
Petty Officer
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Re: Ship Rates

Post by Calpe1704 » Sat Aug 11, 2018 4:12 pm

Thanks Navclio for your lengthy explanation. Indeed I have some reading to do both in Winfield & Benders books.

Cy
Admiral of the Fleet
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Re: Ship Rates

Post by Cy » Sat Aug 11, 2018 4:51 pm

Of course all the information in Winfield's and Bender's books, plus significantly more in Jim Bender's case, is available on Three Decks, as are Rating lists https://threedecks.org/index.php?displa ... ship_rates.
OK, it was me, probably!

Cy
Admiral of the Fleet
Posts: 101
Joined: Tue May 23, 2017 1:10 pm

Re: Ship Rates

Post by Cy » Sat Aug 11, 2018 4:57 pm

Grammont wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 10:11 pm
In the Royal Navy, the gun count was additionally used to determine the composition of boarding parties, which were made up of boarders, sail-trimmers and fire-men.
This is of course only relevant for the late 18C and early 19C. Certainly First rates in 1704 didn't even have 7th Lieutenants and marines were raised on a very ad-hoc basis. At the Battle of Malaga, Namur (96) had five lieutenants as the flag ship, most ships of the line only had three.
OK, it was me, probably!

Navclio
Commander
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Re: Ship Rates

Post by Navclio » Sat Aug 11, 2018 6:01 pm

The allotment of lieutenants in the British navy was changed some time in the second half of the 18th century. The detailed establishments given in N.A.M. Rodger, The Wooden World, 348–51, apply to the 1750s (his study concentrates on the Seven Years' War). At that time, first and second rates had 6 lieutenants, third rates had 4, fourth and fifth rates had 3, and sixth rates, sloops of 10 guns or more, and fireships had just 1, so that warrant officers like the boatswain, master, and perhaps the gunner (who had often started out as a seaman) would have to stand watches. Later, I think the formula was (gun decks * 2) + 1. However, in the 1740s I think there had been fewer lieutenants.

The number of lieutenants became a big issue during George Anson's circumnavigation of 1741-44. Some of his ships turned back, he commissioned a prize and then abandoned it, and by the time he began to cross the Pacific, he was down to two fourth rates. However, one of them started falling apart in mid-ocean and had to be burned. The remaining ship, Centurion, was woefully undermanned, so the sailors of the abandoned Gloucester had plenty of crew slots ("billets" in American parlance) to fill. Not so for the lieutenants. All of Centurion's lieutenancies were filled, so Gloucester's lieutenants could only become supernumerary passengers (likewise for the officers of a sloop, Tryal, that had been abandoned in before the crossing began). They played leadership roles in the action that resulted in capture of the silver-laden "Manila Galleon," but when it came to allocating prize money, the late {I]Gloucester[/I] lieutenants did not share in the eighth allotted to the master and lieutenants; the only got an equal share of the two-eighths allotted to the much larger number of seamen. They were originally allotted lieutenants' shares, but the lieutenants of the Centurion, rather churlishly, sued in the High Court of Admiralty, lost, appealed to the Lords Commissioners for Appeals in Prize Cases, and won the appeal. The prize money for Gloucester's lieutenants went from around £7,500 to about £300 (these are 1747 pounds, not 2018 pounds).

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