Author Topic: 18th Century Navy: Ordinary vs. Able Seaman  (Read 133 times)

Offline JustinL

  • RootsChat Aristocrat
  • ******
  • Posts: 2,651
    • View Profile
18th Century Navy: Ordinary vs. Able Seaman
« on: Tuesday 08 December 20 06:24 GMT (UK) »
Johann Friderich Hoffmann was born in Germany in 1732. In the 1750s he joined his two sisters in east London.

In his will dated 1778, he described himself as "Ordinary Seaman and now belonging to the Aurora arm’d victualler".

I have read that ratings with over two years of service were generally ranked as Able Seamen.

By 1778, John (as he called himself) was over 46 and had presumably already served over 20 years in the navy.

Does anybody know about any other differences between the ranks Able and Ordinary Seaman that would explain his seemingly lowly rank?


Offline barryd

  • RootsChat Marquessate
  • *******
  • Posts: 3,684
  • Census information Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
    • View Profile
Re: 18th Century Navy: Ordinary vs. Able Seaman
« Reply #1 on: Tuesday 08 December 20 07:21 GMT (UK) »
From the Internet  ...................

 An ordinary seaman is the person who is assigned deck jobs as a trainee on ships. Working and gaining experience as a trainee followed by a couple of years as ordinary seaman allows an individual to get a promotion as an able seaman.

Offline JustinL

  • RootsChat Aristocrat
  • ******
  • Posts: 2,651
    • View Profile
Re: 18th Century Navy: Ordinary vs. Able Seaman
« Reply #2 on: Tuesday 08 December 20 08:01 GMT (UK) »
That's the sort of thing that I read on the net.

It suggests a serious lack of competency if John was not recognised as "able" after 20 years.


Offline youngtug

  • RootsChat Marquessate
  • *******
  • Posts: 4,070
    • View Profile
Re: 18th Century Navy: Ordinary vs. Able Seaman
« Reply #3 on: Tuesday 08 December 20 08:29 GMT (UK) »
Maybe demoted for some reason, although I think that at that time if you took a new ship your rating didn't have to be what it was on the previous one.
.http://www.rootschat.com/links/05q2/   
  WILSON;-Wiltshire.
 SOUL;-Gloucestershire.
 SANSUM;-Berkshire-Wiltshire
 BASSON-BASTON;- Berkshire,- Oxfordshire.
 BRIDGES;- Wiltshire.
 DOWDESWELL;-Wiltshire,Gloucestershire
 JORDAN;- Berkshire.
 COX;- Berkshire.
 GOUDY;- Suffolk.
 CHATFIELD;-Sussex-- London
 MORGAN;-Blaenavon-Abersychan
 FISHER;- Berkshire.
 BLOMFIELD-BLOOMFIELD-BLUMFIELD;-Suffolk.
DOVE. Essex-London
YOUNG-Berkshire
ARDEN.
PINEGAR-COLLIER-HUGHES-JEFFERIES-HUNT-MOSS-FRY

Offline JustinL

  • RootsChat Aristocrat
  • ******
  • Posts: 2,651
    • View Profile
Re: 18th Century Navy: Ordinary vs. Able Seaman
« Reply #4 on: Tuesday 08 December 20 08:30 GMT (UK) »
I think I have the answer from the National Archives site.

An ordinary was generally recognised as the lowest rating on ship. Boys were rated ordinary seaman at the age of 18 and were usually rated 'able' at 21. An ordinary seaman was described as someone who would be useful on board but was not an expert sailor.

An able seaman was considered to be an experienced sailor familiar with his duties. He had to be at least 20 years old with five years’ experience at sea. He was expected to have all the skills of an ordinary seaman and, in addition, be able to take over as the main helmsman, keeping the ship on course.

Supporting your thought Youngtug, the glossary also states, "The rating of seamen was usually the responsibility of the captain in consultation with the master and the boatswain".

Offline youngtug

  • RootsChat Marquessate
  • *******
  • Posts: 4,070
    • View Profile
Re: 18th Century Navy: Ordinary vs. Able Seaman
« Reply #5 on: Tuesday 08 December 20 08:31 GMT (UK) »
The date of the service will have some bearing on the subject;

http://freepages.rootsweb.com/~pbtyc/genealogy/Uniform/Ratings.html
.http://www.rootschat.com/links/05q2/   
  WILSON;-Wiltshire.
 SOUL;-Gloucestershire.
 SANSUM;-Berkshire-Wiltshire
 BASSON-BASTON;- Berkshire,- Oxfordshire.
 BRIDGES;- Wiltshire.
 DOWDESWELL;-Wiltshire,Gloucestershire
 JORDAN;- Berkshire.
 COX;- Berkshire.
 GOUDY;- Suffolk.
 CHATFIELD;-Sussex-- London
 MORGAN;-Blaenavon-Abersychan
 FISHER;- Berkshire.
 BLOMFIELD-BLOOMFIELD-BLUMFIELD;-Suffolk.
DOVE. Essex-London
YOUNG-Berkshire
ARDEN.
PINEGAR-COLLIER-HUGHES-JEFFERIES-HUNT-MOSS-FRY