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 Flag Lieutenant 
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Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:05 pm
Posts: 62
Post Flag Lieutenant
Was there ever an official position called a “Flag Lieutenant” (i.e., aide to a flag officer)? If so, when was it created?

I do not find the term used during the American War (1775-1783); however, Lord Howe created positions known as “Supernumerary Lieutenants” on his flagship HMS Eagle (3rd rate, 64 guns). HMS Eagle was commissioned 07 Feb 1776 with its complements of four Lieutenants commissioned by Admiralty, viz. Samuel Reeve (1st), John Howarth (2d), Harry Harmood (3d) and Philip Brown (4th). HMS Eagle sailed for America on 11 May 1776; however, five days earlier on 06 May 1776 Lieutenants James Watt [rank: 24 June 1762] and Thomas Farnham [rank: 03 Oct 1771] entered on board as acting 5th & 6th Lieutenants and “supernumeraries borne for wages and victuals.” After arrival in America, on 05 Aug 1776 Lord Howe notified Admiralty of these “Supernumerary Lieutenants” but it wasn’t until after Lord Howe had returned to London that on 22 Dec 1778 Admiralty confirmed those commissions, retroactive to 10 May 1776. I do not have a complete list of supernumerary Lieutenants on HMS Eagle but Hugh Cloberry Christian was 5th from 11 May 1777 to 28 Jan 1778, Hon’ble Michael de Courcy was 5th from 02 May 1778 to 31 May 1778 and Hon’ble Seymour Finch was 6th from 02 May 1778 to 27 Nov 1778.

Lord Howe on 20 Nov 1776 also had commissioned the Hon’ble Michael de Courcey as [supernumerary] 4th Lieutenant on Commodore William Hotham’s flagship, HMS Preston (4th rate, 50 guns), another commission not confirmed by Admiralty until after Lord Howe had returned to London that Admiralty on 22 Dec 1778.

Sat Mar 24, 2012 4:07 pm

Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 12:27 am
Posts: 389
Location: Australia
Post Re: Flag Lieutenant
It was certainly an official position in the Navy List of1814. I do not know when it became such. A quick look through Nelson's letters finds him referring to his flag lieutenant in 1801. Given the practice of the day, this position would have existed long before it was officially admitted into Lists.

Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:41 am

Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:05 pm
Posts: 62
Post Re: Flag Lieutenant
Thank you, Peter.

As of 01 June 1778 there were fifteen ships with flag officers and their entourages onboard; however, the only two with extra Lieutenants on board were both in North America. Prior to Dec 1777, HMS Chatham, 4th/50, Vice Admiral Molyneux Shuldham’s flagship, then still in North America, also had two extra Lieutenants on board although only James Saumarez, 5th Lieutenant, can be identified.

Shortly after his return to England, Lord Howe apparently had to answer to Admiralty about these extra Lieutenants but he apparently answered to their satisfaction as on 22 Dec 1778 the Lords, Commissioners of the Admiralty confirmed the following appointments:

HMS Eagle, 3d/64, VAdm’l Lord Howe’s flagship (established with 4 Lieutenants):
1776 May 10……….5th Lt. James Watt
[1777 May 11]…….5th Lt. Hugh Cloberry Christian [from paybook]
1778 Jan 25………..5th Lt. Robert Mosse
1778 Apr 22………..5th Lt. Hon. Michael de Courcey
1776 May 10……….6th Lt. Thomas Farnham
1778 Jan 25………..6th Lt. Hon. Seymour Finch

HMS Chatham, 4th/50, VAdm’l Lord Molyneux Shuldham’s flagship (established with 3 Lieutenants):
unknown………….4th Lt. unidentified
1776 Sep 07………..5th Lt. James Saumarez

HMS Preston, 4th/50, Commodore William Hotham’s flagship (established with 3 Lieutenants):
1776 Nov 20……….4th Lt. Hon. Michael de Courcey
1776 Nov 20……….5th Lt. William Tahourdian
1778 Apr 22………..5th Lt. Christopher Hele

This list was compiled from the “Admiralty Warrants & Commissions Book” for 01 Jan 1774 to 30 June 1779 (ADM 6/21, pp. 1-578), the Admiralty “Ships and Vessels in Sea Pay” for 01 June 1778 (ADM 8/54, ff. 101-126), and extracts from HMS Eagle’s paybook .

Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:02 pm
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