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A Social History of Midshipmen and Quarterdeck Boys in the Royal Navy, 1761-1831.
CavellS.pdf (2.231Mb) CavellS_fm.pdf (39.53Kb) Appendix F1 QDB 1761.xls (120.5Kb) Appendix F2 QDB 1771.xls (152Kb) Appendix F3 QDB 1781.xls (185.5Kb) Appendix F4 QDB 1791.xls (190Kb) Appendix F5 QDB 1801.xls (390.5Kb) Appendix F6 QDB 1811.xls (320Kb) Appendix F7 QDB 1821.xls (281Kb) Appendix F8 QDB 1831.xls (333.5Kb) Appendix G1 JO 1761.xls (310.5Kb) Appendix G2 JO 1771.xls (497.5Kb) Appendix G3 JO 1781.xls (423.5Kb) Appendix G4 JO 1791.xls (627Kb) Appendix G5 JO 1801.xls (559.5Kb) Appendix G6 JO 1811.xls (611.5Kb) Appendix G7 JO 1821.xls (567.5Kb) Appendix G8 JO 1831.xls (515Kb) Appendix H Collated Data and Charts, 1761-1831.xls (1.226Mb) Appendix I Geographical Distribution, 1761-1831.xls (395Kb) Appendix J Ages & Ranks JO, 1761-1831.xls (79.5Kb) Appendix K QDB Change of Status, 1801-1831.xls (346Kb) Appendix L V1 Applicants, 1830-31.xls (60.5Kb) Appendix M Courts Martial Summary, 1755 to 1831.xls (229.5Kb) Appendix N Extrapolations.xls (106Kb)Show MoreShow Less
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
To publish research taken from the thesis
Many senior officers in the Royal Navy of late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries saw the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars as a time of dramatic social change within the officer corps. Naval and civilian commentators alike expressed concern that the virtue of birth had replaced the virtue of merit when it came to the selection of officer recruits, and that the change adversely affected discipline and subordination. This thesis seeks to test the accuracy of these observations, and modern interpretations of them, by determining when and why changes in the social make-up of the corps of “young gentlemen” took place, and the effects of those changes on naval professionalism. This study asserts that social developments in the navy’s officer corps are most transparent at the entry level. Data on the social backgrounds of more than 4500 midshipmen and quarterdeck boys, from 1761 to 1831, shows that the presence of the social elites among officer aspirants was directly affected by states of war and peace and the popularity of a naval career for well-born sons. While contemporaries saw a growing elitism among officer recruits between 1793 and 1815, the data suggests that the scions of peers and the landed gentry were more prevalent in the peacetime service of 1771 and again after 1815, when the weight of social and political connections again became determining factors in the selection of officer trainees. The cultural changes that influenced the popularity of a naval career for young “honorables” between the Seven Years’ War and Parliamentary Reform highlight the social and political pressures that were exerted on recruiting captains and the Admiralty. Together they help to explain developments in the social make-up of the navy’s future-officer corps and the relationship between the naval microcosm and British society at large.
Exeter Research Scholarship
Please note the following correction to the text of this thesis: With reference to Appendix G4 JO 1791, Charles Bennett (Barfleur) died in Redruth, Cornwall not Hastings, Sussex as stated in the thesis.
Rodger, N. A. M.
PhD in History