About the Squadron Ranks

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Introduction

The St. George Squadron uses social ranks rather than military ranks in its system of hierarchy. Among the reasons for this is that as all Squadon members are commanding ships in the Royal Navy, they all have the military rank of Post-Captain (or Master and Commander at the minimum) already, making a separate military ranking system unnecessary. Ranks can be separated into two categories: Military ranks and social ranks.

Royal Navy Ranks

As an officer in the Royal Navy you will, as in the Army, Marines, etc. have a military rank. In the Royal Navy, you would usually start your career as an officer as a very young (around 8 years) Midshipman, and stay a Midshipman until you could pass you lieutenant's examination at 18 years. Alternatively, you could become a midshipman through the Royal Naval Academy before taking the examination. You would be the direct leader of a division of the crew, and prepare for the lieutenant's examination by learning your trade on the quarterdeck. As a Lieutenant, you would lead several divisions, decks of guncrews, keep a watch, and (as the First Lieutenant) lead the daily running of the ship as your captain's second in command. If well connected, you could also receive an independant command as captain of a cutter or small brig. Through a credible act of naval competence (but more commonly through the patronage of an influential senior officer, family member or political acquaintance) you could be promoted to Master and Commander, and commissioned captain of a sloop-of-war.

To progress to the next rank, you would again need to distinguish yourself through gallant acts, or be helped along by your aforementioned connections and influential friends. You would then become a Post-Captain, and commissioned a small frigate (called a "post ship"). You would spend most of the rest of your career in this rank, and as you'd gain seniority, you'd be commissioned larger and larger ships. At some point you would no longer be captain of frigates, and given commands of ships of the line instead. Old and experienced Post-Captain could end up commanding a 1st-rate. As the senior officers above you died away or were promoted, you might find yourself the most senior Post-Captain when a position as Rear Admiral of the Blue Squadron became vacant. You would then steadily rise through the ranks of Rear Admiral of the White Squadron, and Rear Admiral of the Red Squadron. Then follows the last two Admiral ranks of Vice Admiral and Admiral, each was divided into the Blue Squadron, White Squadron, and finally the Red Squadron. As a Rear Admiral and above, your days as captain of a ship was over. You would be appointed a younger Post-Captain as Flag Captain aboard your ship, and your main duty was the overall command of an entire fleet of ships.


As an officer in the St. George Squadron, you are free to use any of the Royal Navy military ranks as you wish, and this also includes the rank titles you earn in the game. Note however that the game's use of military ranks are sketchy at best, as it includes several ranks that are either made up, does not fit your character's age and experience, or the ship he is allowed to sail. For example, every rank below "Master and Commander" would normally not be appointed captain of a ship larger than a cutter, and "Flag Captain" is as explained not a military rank per se, but rather the name of the temporary position of any captain commanding an admiral's flagship.


The historical Royal Navy full ranks were as follows:

  • Midshipman - Commanded some of the guncrews aboard a ship under a captain.
  • Lieutenant - Commanded the daily running of the ship under a captain, or sometimes as captain of a cutter or brig (The game's 7th- or 6th-rates).
  • Master and Commander - Captained a sloop (The games 6th-rates).
  • Post-Captain - Initially captained a "post ship" (The game's first 5th-rates), then captained larger and larger ships with increased seniority, including 1st-rates.
  • Rear Admiral of the Blue/White/Red - In overall command of a small fleet, or a portion of a larger fleet. Commanded from his flagship, which was captained by a Flag Captain.
  • Vice Admiral of the Blue/White/Red - In overall command of a small fleet, or a portion of a larger fleet. Commanded from his flagship, which was captained by a Flag Captain.
  • Admiral of the Blue/White/Red - In overall command of a large fleet. Commanded from his flagship, which was captained by a Flag Captain.


The historical Royal Navy temporary ranks were as follows:

  • Flag Captain - Since Admirals did not captain their flagships themselves, a Post-Captain was temporarily appointed Flag Captain to do so.
  • Commodore - When a task force or squadron was formed for a specific operation or campaign, a senior and capable Post-Captain was temporarily appointed Commodore and given overall command for the duration.


The SGS regulations mentioning military ranks:

  • There are no regulations that prohibits the use of or binding you to use any Royal Navy rank.
  • It is suggested however that you do not use the ranks below "Master and Commander", as officers of these ranks (Midshipman and Lieutenant) would have rarely been commissioned a ship of their own to command, but rather serve under a captain.
  • It is also suggested that the rank of Rear Admiral and above is not used, so as not to make the Squadron a "country full of presidents" and to avoid that one captain is put under or over another in terms of military rank (the Squadron uses the social system to show the standing of our officers).


Social Ranks

The ranking system used in the Squadron, on the other hand, is based on the ranks used in civilian society, regardless of military rank. Especially in 17th, 18th and 19th century Great Britain, social ranks were of great importance, granting more and more power, influence and income the higher up on the social ladder you climbed. These ranks could be hereditary, meaning that the rank and power stayed within the family and were claimed through birthright, or one could receive a social rank as a recognition of merit, distinction and excellence. The ranks used in the Squadron therefore not only depict a captain's standing in civilan society, the amount of land and estates he owns, and his yearly income, but it is also a sign of the captain having distinguished himself so greatly that the Crown has granted him the rank and titles he now have. The St. George Squadron uses these ranks as they are applicable for all classes (traders or privateers are, after all, not in the Royal Navy) while still retaining a fair amount of historical accuracy. This rank depends on your accomplishments within the squadron and is detached from your military rank. That means that all posts on the St. George Squadron board should follow the etiquette for addressing other captains, including any signatures.


The social ranks in the Squadron are as follows:

  • Gentleman/Gentlewoman
  • Esquire
  • Knight/Dame
  • Baronet/Baronetess
  • Baron/Baroness
  • Viscount/Viscountess
  • Earl/Countess
  • Sea Lord


The SGS regulations mentioning social ranks:

  • Your social rank can only be one that is awarded to you by the Squadron.
  • Character names can not include titles like Lord, Baron or Sir. This includes any claim to an Order or title earned elsewhere than in the Squadron.


Relevant Links

Gentry

The Gentry was the term used for the persons below the nobility/peers but above the working class.


Gentleman

Squadron Gentleman's sleeve.

A Gentleman (or the female equivalent: Gentlewoman) is "a man of good family", and commonly signified a person that, through his family, property or other source, had a steady income and therefore did not need to work. It was commonly used by those who could not claim nobility and peerage, and could not term themselves Esquires. In any social event were social standing were important, it was presumed that everyone present would at least be a gentleman.


Using the rank with your name:

  • Mr. [Forename] [Surname] (Ex. Mr. John Wanton)
  • (Alt.) [Forename] [Surname], Gent. (Ex. John Wanton, Gent.)


The rank in Heraldry:

  • A gentleman is not granted personal Arms in the Squadron.


Esquire

Squadron Esquire's sleeve.

An Esquire is the next step on the social ladder. One could become an Esquire based on birth (the eldest son of a Knight, for example) or through office (lawyers, magistrates, or those with the rank of Captain or above in the armed forces). Esquires could historically turn in an application to the College of Arms to be granted their own personal Coat of Arms.


Using the rank with your name:

  • [Forename] [Surname] Esquire (Ex. Jack Robertson Esquire)
  • (Alt.) [Forename] [Surname], Esq. (Ex. Jack Robertson, Esq.)


The rank in Heraldry:

  • An Esquire is granted a personal coat of arms in the Squadron.
  • An Esquire may use an Esquire's Helm above his Shield in his Coat of Arms.


Knight

Squadron Knight's sleeve.

A Knight is a person that has gained entrance into an Order of Knighthood, often based on merit and achievement. A knight is granted the right to bear a personal Coat of Arms and is dubbed (recieves the ritual sword-tap on the shoulder during a ceremony) into the order in question. Each Order of Knighthood has different ranks within the Order, and different symbols or clothing accesories to distinguish the difference between the ranks. The symbol of a Knight in the Order of the Bath, for example, is a broad red sash running diagonally from the right shoulder to the left hip, with the Order Badge attached to it near the hip, and the Order Star pinned to the left breast.

The Order of the Bath.
The Order of the Thistle.

The Squadron grants its Knights entrance into either the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle (for Scottish captains) or the Most Honourable Military Order of the Bath (for other British captains). If a captain reaches the social rank of Viscount, he will also be dubbed into the Most Noble Order of the Garter. Female Knights are given the prefix "Dame" in the Order of the Bath, and "Lady" in the Order of the Thistle. The social rank of Knight is not hereditary, and is not inherited by the Knight's children.


Using the rank with your name:

  • Sir/Dame/Lady [Forename] [Surname] (Ex. Sir James Wilmore)
  • (Alt.) Sir/Dame/Lady [Forename] (Ex. Sir James)

Note: The "Sir"/"Dame/Lady" prefix can only be used with the forename and surname together, or with the forename only. It can not be used with the surname alone (You can not say "Sir Wilmore" unless "Wilmore" is the persons first name).


The rank in Heraldry:

  • A Knight may use a Knight's Helm above his Shield in his Coat of Arms.
  • He may also place the Star of his Order below his shield.


Baronet

Squadron Baronet's sleeve.

A Baronet (female equalient: Baronetess) has been granted his own Baronetcy. Hereditary baronetcies were in feudal times granted to rich commoners, elevating them above knights, but not making them part of the peerage (like a Baron). In more modern times a baronetcy would be granted as a great honor to prominent persons. The recipient's existing lands and estate became the baronetcy, and the Crown did not grant new lands (although in the Squadron, we pretend that it does). A baronetcy, as it is only the estate of a rich commoner, is therefore usually no more than a smaller country house. Baronets also uses the prefix "Sir"/"Dame" but are not granted access to any Orders just by being a Baronet. They are placed above Knight in the social hierarchy however, except Knights of the Order of the Garter. The title of Baronet is hereditary, meaning that it is inherited by the oldest son born within wedlock, and the title and lands therefore stays within the family until the family line is broken. The first Baronet is styled "1st Baronet [Surname]", and when the oldest son inherits the title he becomes the "2nd Baronet [Surname]". His son will then become the "3rd Baronet [Surname]" and so on. The title is therefore, unlike that of a Baron or Viscount, not tied to the baronetcy itself, but to the family name. The Baronet that owns the Baronetcy of Barrow in the County of Gloucester can not style himself "The Baronet of Barrow", as the title of Baronet is tied to his family name and not the land he owns. You could, however, list the county of your baronetcy when giving your whole, formal title, ex. "Baronet Duff, of Vaynol Park in the County of Carnarfon".


Using the rank with your name:

  • Sir/Dame [Forname] [Surname], 1st/2nd/3rd/etc. Baronet [Surname] (Ex. Sir Richard Jones, 1st Baronet Jones)
  • (Alt.) Sir/Dame [Forname] [Surname], 1st/2nd/3rd/etc. Bart./Btss. (Ex. Sir Richard Jones, 1st Bart.)
  • (Alt.) Sir/Dame [Forname] (Ex. Sir Richard)

Note: The same rules of using "Sir"/"Dame" as a prefix that are used regarding Knight applies to a Baronet aswell.


The rank in Heraldry:

  • A Baronet uses a Knight's Helm above his Shield in his Coat of Arms.
  • He may also place a red left hand, similar to the Red Hand of Ulster, on his Shield.


Peers

The peers, or the nobility, belong to the highest class in society, with large ammounts of land, estates and income. Their titles are hereditary and is usually directly tied to the land they own. Traditionally there were two ways you could become a peer (as a member of the Gentry originally):

It was every peer's right to recieve a Writ of Summons by the Monarch, inviting him or her to attend Parliament, but if you were not a peer the Monarch could still chose to send you one. If you answered it and took a seat in Parliament, you were from that moment created a peer, and most of the medieval baronies were created simply by summoning an induvidual to Parliament and thus making him a peer. The most used method, however, was the use of Letters Patent. It is a letter from the Monarch which grants you your peerage and determines how the titles are to be inherited. The most common was to style the peer's heirs-male of the body as successors, meaning that the male heir (the eldest son) inherited everything. There were expeptions to this though (The Dukedom of Marlborough, when Sir John Churchill's only sons died, was allowed to pass to the Duke's daughters and their heirs-male to prevent it from becoming extinct when the Duke died). The estates and lands of peers were not given by the Crown after the middle ages, and a peer's domain was rather based on what he or she already owned before becoming a peer. In the Squadron, however, we pretend that the Crown still follows the medieval practice of giving land to newly made peers.


Baron

Squadron Baron's sleeve.

In the British peer system, a Baron (female equalient: Baroness) rank below viscounts and is the lowest rank of the peerage. The original baronies in England were created in the middle ages, and given to prominent persons that had pledged their loyalty to the Crown in the feudal system of the time. The greatest earls with the largest territories could bestow the hereditary title of Baron to their land owners, and the title later came to mean a person that had received a seat in the House of Lords. These persons usually already owned large areas of land within a county, and owned estates within it, so the feudal practice of giving land to newly created barons disappeared (we still pretend that the practice still exists in the Squadron, however). A barony could therefore be very small (a large mansion and the surrounding land) or very large (several prominent places within a county or large area), depending on the original size before it being named a barony.

Traditionally, there were many ways to adress a Baron. Among them are "The Most Honourable Lord/Lady [Surname], Baron/Baroness [Barony]" and "[Forename] [Surname], Baron/Baroness [Barony]". Scottish Barons tends to name themselves "[Forename] [Surname], Baron of [Barony]" or "[Forename] [Surname] of [Barony]", the word "of" is not used by English Barons. As the title is hereditary, you could also add the number of times the title has been inherited within your family, ex. "[Forename] [Surname], 1st/2nd/3rd Baron [Barony]". When announcing your complete title, you could also include the County of your Barony aswell, ex. "Baron Manners, of Foston in the County of Lincoln".


Using the rank with your name:

  • Lord/Lady [Forname] [Surname], Baron/Baroness [Barony] (Ex. Lord Spencer Compton, Baron Wilmington)
  • (Alt.) [Forname], Baron/Baroness [Barony] (Ex. Spencer, Baron Wilmington. Usually not used unless the holder bears a knighthood and can style himself "Sir [Forename]")
  • (Alt.) Baron/Baroness [Barony] (Ex. Baron Wilmington]
  • (Alt.) Lord/Lady [Forname] [Surname], 1st/2nd/3rd Baron/Baroness [Barony] (Ex. Lord Spencer Compton, 4th Baron Wilmington)


The rank in Heraldry:

  • A Baron uses a Baron's Helm.
  • He may place a Baron's Coronet above his Shield and beneath his Helm.


Viscount

Squadron Viscount's sleeve.
The Order of the Garter.

A Viscount/Viscountess is the second rank in British peerage, and is the lord or lady of a viscountcy. Viscountcies were founded at the end of the middle ages to bridge the juridical gap in the shires and counties not filled by the earls. Like the more recent earldoms, a viscountcy would be the main town or one or more prominent places within a county, and have a more modern castle, a large country house or a mansion as its main estate. The title of a viscount may be either a place name, a surname, or a combination, while Scottish viscounts are styled "The Viscount of [Viscountcy]". A British viscount is named as Lord [Viscountcy], while his wife is Lady [Viscountcy], and he is formally styled "The Viscount [Viscountcy]". The children of a viscount are known as The Honourable [Forename] [Surname]. As a Viscount in the Squadron, you also become a knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.


Using the rank with your name:

  • Lord/Lady [Forname] [Surname], Viscount/Viscountess [Viscountcy] (Ex. Lord Nathaniel Blatchford, Viscount Trentham)
  • (Alt.) Lord/Lady [Surname], Viscount/Viscountess [Viscountcy] (Ex. Lord Blatchford, Viscount Trentham")
  • (Alt.) Viscount/Viscountess [Surname] of [Viscountcy] (Ex. Viscount Blatchford of Trentham")
  • (Alt.) Viscount/Viscountess [Viscountcy] (Ex. Viscount Trentham)
  • (Alt.) Lord/Lady [Forname] [Surname], 1st/2nd/3rd Viscount/Viscountess [Viscountcy] (Ex. Lord Nathaniel Blatchford, 1st Viscount Trentham)


The rank in Heraldry:

  • A Viscount uses a Viscount's Helm.
  • He may place a Viscount's Coronet above his Shield and beneath his Helm.


Earl

Squadron Earl's sleeve.

Earls rank above Viscounts and below Marquess in the British social ranks, and is the highest attainable rank in the Squadron. An earl (or the female equivalent "countess") is the lord or lady of an earldom. Earldoms in medieval England were typically the different shires and counties. Nearer the 18th and 19th century, however, earldoms became much smaller; never bigger than a county, and more usually just the main town or one or more prominent places within the county. Earldoms with medieval traditions could have a medieval castle as the main estate, while more recent earldoms would have a more modern castle, a large country house or a mansion. The title of an earl may be either a place name, and of so is styled "Earl of [Earldom]", or a surname, styling him "Earl [Surname]".

Using the rank with your name:

  • Lord/Lady [Forname] [Surname], Earl/Countess of [Earldom] (Ex. Lord James Wilmore, Earl of Northumberland)
  • (Alt.) Lord/Lady [Surname], Earl/Countess of [Earldom] (Ex. Lord Wilmore, Earl of Northumberland")
  • (Alt.) Lord/Lady [Earldom] (Ex. Lord Northumberland)
  • Lord/Lady [Forname] [Surname], 1st/2nd/3rd Earl/Countess of [Earldom] (Ex. Lord James Wilmore, 1st Earl of Northumberland)


The rank in Heraldry:

  • An Earl uses an Earl's Helm.
  • He may place an Earl's Coronet above his Shield and beneath his Helm.