gentlemen captains

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Samuel Pepys (1633—1703) naval official and diarist




'gentlemen captains' can also refer to...

gentlemen captains

Rice, Gerald Spring (1926 - 2013), late Captain, Irish Guards; one of HM Body Guard, Hon. Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms, 1978–96

Strutt, Henry (1840 - 1914), ADC to the King; Captain Hon. Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms 1895–1906; Chairman of County Council and of Quarter-Sessions, Notts

Taylor, John Derek (born 1943), Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms (Government Chief Whip in House of Lords), since 2014; Deputy Chairman, Conservative Party, and Chairman, National Conservative Convention, 2000–03

Bowyer, Bertram Stanley Mitford (born 1927), Captain of the Gentlemen at Arms (Government Chief Whip in the House of Lords), 1979–91; an Extra Lord-in-Waiting to the Queen, since 1998

Fortescue, Hugh William (1888 - 1958), Col 96th Brigade, RFA, TA, 1929; late Major Scots Greys; Captain of the Gentlemen at Arms since 1951; Lord Lieutenant of Devon since 1936; Member of Duchy of Cornwall Council since 1933; Chief Government Whip, House of Lords

Venables-Vernon, George William Henry (1854 - 1898), Scots Guards (retired); Captain 12th Lancers, retired 1883; Hon. Major Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms, 1892; Member of Royal Commission on Agriculture, 1893

Snell, Henry (1865 - 1944), Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms since 1940; Deputy Leader of House of Lords since 1940; Member of Imperial Economic Committee, 1930; Vice-President of Royal Empire Society and Vice-Chairman Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1940–43; Joint-Treasurer of Empire Parliamentary Association; Vice-Chairman of the British Council; Pres. of National Council of Social Service, 1938


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Court favourites of the Tudor and Stuart kings and queens of England who were appointed to command ships in the British Navy without having had to work their way up by promotion from lower ranks. Very often they had no knowledge of the sea or the ways of a ship, but solicited these appointments for the opportunities of plunder and prize money which they offered. Such captains were disliked by the crews of the ships they commanded and particularly by tarpaulin captains. Equally disgusted by this backstairs method of appointment was Samuel Pepys who, as secretary of the Admiralty, 1673–9 and 1684–9, made the lives of gentlemen captains a misery by insisting that they remained on board their ships unless given official leave. He also required them to forward log books for their ships punctually every month to the Navy Office. Under this strict regime few courtiers found it worthwhile to solicit appointments to command ships and the practice was effectively stamped out.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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