Rules Governing Shipboard Life in the Royal Navy

We have all heard of the Articles of War, those dire pronouncements read to the assembled crew every Sunday. But a ship cannot be governed by just these rules; other guidelines must exist for the regulation of life aboard a sailing ship. Since the 1700’s such a book of rules does exist, though it goes under various titles as the years go by. The one under discussion is Regulations and instructions relating to His majesty’s service at sea / established by His Majesty in Council published in 1731. In its pages are found such topics as the role and responsibilities of the captain, master, lieutenants, surgeon, boatswain, sailmaker, etc., as well as the employment of pilots, the issuance of clothes and bedding, pay matters (including how much flag officers are to be paid), allotment of food, care of sick or hurt seamen, etc. These are not guidelines but are specific do’s and don’ts for all ranks. These rules were drawn up because “…the Orders and Instructions, which have been from Time to Time been issued for the better Government of the Navy, have been so imperfect, and, through Length of Time, become so perplexed, that the Officers of His Majesty’s Navy have been liable to fall into Mistakes and Omissions in the execution of their Duty.” (ii) The rules evolved over time as can be seen in successive iterations: Regulations and instructions relating to His Majesty’s service at sea (1734); Regulations and instructions relating to His Majesty’s service at sea (1757); Regulations and instructions relating to His Majesty’s service at sea. Established by His Majesty in Council (1790); Regulations and instructions relating to His Majesty’s service at sea : established by His Majesty in council (1806); The Queen’s regulations for the Royal Navy. Revised … (1862); and The King’s regulations and Admiralty instructions for the government of His Majesty’s Naval Service (1906). This work is still being published today – Queen’s Regulations for the Royal Navy (most recent edition, 2014).

have from Time to Time been issued for the better Go

vernment of the Navy, have been so imperfeEl, and,

through Length of Time, becomeso perplexed, that the

Officers of His Majefly s Navy have been liable to

fall into Miflakes and Omissions in the Execution of

their Duty. And that, for the preventing any Doubts

or Difficulties of this Nature for the future, they have

collected into a Book the several Rules and Orders now

in Force in the Navy, and made such Additions and

Alterations thereto, as they thought necessary for that

Purpose ; and have reduced

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