I. Master & Commander, FULL DRESS, 1787-1795:
Next in seniority after the captain came the ‘Master and Commander’ a rank said to have been introduced by William III. The commander was a captain who had not been ‘posted’ for promotion so he commanded the smallest type of vessel, a sixth-rate. Such commands were usually given to lieutenants who had passed their navigation examinations and could be given locally by the commander of a fleet or station, but subject to Admiralty confirmation. After 1794 the title was altered to ‘Commander’ only. The commander in the accompanying plate has a laced hat, and a ‘5-ball’ pattern sword.
II. Lieutenant, FULL DRESS, 1787-1812:
The lieutenants of a man-of-war, the number of whom varied with the size of the vessel, were responsible to the captain for the general running of the ship and oversaw the various watches. Apart from their routine duties, in time of war they were often sent off on ‘boat service’ against enemy shipping, or commanded landing parties provided by their ship. When prizes were taken a lieutenant was usually put in charge, and it was in this way that many of them obtained their first command. This image is partly based on a painting of an unknown lieutenant, in the National Maritime Museum.