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 Private navies 
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Midshipman
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Joined: Wed May 09, 2007 1:17 am
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Post Private navies
Would anyone have infoormation on private navies that either supported trade of their companies (aside from, say, the British or Dutch East India Companies) or a letter of marque issued to a company that own several ships vice only one.

Also, I'm trying to find out if the British Navy or anyone else ever had or required a commissioned officer to remain aboard a privateer or ship of a private company.

Indeed, I'm not sure if the above exits at all but I thought you ladies and gentlemen would know.

Cheers,


Thu Oct 11, 2007 10:59 am
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Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 12:27 am
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I cannot help with private navies other than, perhaps, the vessels of the Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem (aka the Knights of Malta; aka the Knights of Rhodes).

The Hudson’s Bay Company, the Levant Company and the Royal Africa Company certainly obtained Letters of Marque for some of their ships (Letters of Marque were directed to a specified ship and her commander). Many firms involved in the slave trade equipped their ships with Letters of Marque.

Even though both were authorised by Letters of Marque, by the late 18th C. a de facto distinction had evolved between privateers and working merchant vessels holding Letters of Marque. The former were private men-of-war and the latter were vessels carrying cargo but suitably equipped with the necessary legal protection to enable them to take advantage of any easy pickings that might come along without the risk of being accused of piracy and without the danger of the prize being condemned as a droit of admiralty. There were other advantages such as exemption from convoy and some protection from the Press.

I think that the navy would have been averse to having one of their officers on full pay on board a privateer. During the 18th century it was not unknown for privateers to be hired as convoy escorts but, even then, I do not think that NOs were on board. An officer on half pay, on the other hand, being unemployed, could well ship in a privateer. Privately owned merchant ships hired by the navy were in a different category and sometimes had NOs on board as agents.


Sat Oct 13, 2007 12:04 am
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.... I'm not entirely sure where this post should be placed, but can anyone explain the British Merchant Service of the late 18th/early 19th centuries to me, please? Was there a difference between this and the East Indies Companies?

Did the British Merchant Service have the rank of lieutenant?

No, you're not helping me write a bit of fiction, but I spotted something in The Times which interests me, and about which I am not quite clear. :lol:

_________________
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aka Mary ....


Fri Oct 19, 2007 1:13 pm
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Mil Goose wrote:
.... I'm not entirely sure where this post should be placed, but can anyone explain the British Merchant Service of the late 18th/early 19th centuries to me, please? Was there a difference between this and the East Indies Companies?

Mary, I have done some reading about the Honourable East India Company (HEIC) and know that it existed from 1600 to 1858 and had a royal charter (monopoly) for all British trading in the East Indies. The British Merchant Service seems to me to be a more general term that might apply to all other British trading companies that span a wider period of time and, during the 1600-1858 period, to other trading areas in the world. It would seem likely that some of these other trading companies might employ equivalent naval ranks and, possibly, their own company uniforms (if the shipping company was large enough). One might have to research a particular trading company to confirm this however.

I think Actium Blue is asking, in this thread, if any other of these other trading/shipping companies was large enough to maintain its own private navy like the HEIC did with the Bombay Marines. The article you found might be a clue to answer to his question.

Could you share the article you found?

Don


Fri Oct 19, 2007 2:50 pm
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Quote:
Did the British Merchant Service have the rank of lieutenant?



IMHO the rank of lieutenant was not used in the Merchant Service, a term which encompasses all privately owned British ships, including the HEIC's Maritime Service (as distinct from the Bombay Marine), and the ships of the other Chartered Companies. The ships of the HEIC's Maritime Service had a Commander and (usually) four mates, the latter being sometimes referred to as Chief Officer, Second Officer etc. Midshipmen were also carried.

This nomenclature may not have been universal. e.g. The VOC was organized on a different basis as their captains held their commissions from the States-General.


Sat Oct 20, 2007 12:37 am
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