Jump to content

Thinking things through: Lantern in mast top - what rules of positioning?


Recommended Posts

Quite a while ago Blue Ensign pointed me to an interesting question. Todays Victory is carrying a lantern in the main top. Lavery points out in Arming and Fitting on page 255 that the position of the lantern follows the rank: Admiral in the main top, Vice Admiral in the fore top and Rear Admiral in the mizzen top.


As Nelson was Vice Admiral of the White at Trafalgar, the lantern should be displayed in the fore top to show the correct position at Trafalgar as indicated by Lavery.


But apart from Laverys remark I did not found any other mention of this practice, the only reference he gives is the Public Record office Adm 106/2233, 26 Jan 1804, unfortunately unknown to me. Does anybody have access to it?


But I just stumbled across another contradicting reference, again, it did not jump into my eye even though I examined the picture laready multiple times.


Painting "The 'Victory' Leaving the Channel in 1793" Monamie Swaine,
The 'Victory' is shown broadside to port, going down Channel to windward with Rudyerd's Eddystone Lighthouse distantly visible beyond her stern. She is shown flying the flag of Lord Hood as Vice-Admiral of the Red (red at the fore), as she heads outward-bound with her squadron in 1793 for the Mediterranean, where she was Hood's flagship at the Siege of Toulon and the invasion of Corsica. Hood had been promoted to Admiral of the Blue by the time he returned in November 1794, and on the left 'Victory' is shown again, leading the return of his squadron. In the main view 'Victory' also flies a Union jack on her bowsprit and a red ensign, as do other ships of the outward-bound squadron following her. The 'Victory' was floated out of dock at Chatham in 1765 and the picture shows her as built except that she has been coppered. This process first took place in March 1780, when the bottom of the ship below the waterline was sheathed with 3923 sheets of copper to protect her hull against ship-worm. The name 'Victory' is present on the stern. In 1797she was Sir John Jervis's flagship at the Battle of Cape St Vincent and in 1801-03 had a major rebuild at Chatham that enclosed her stern galleries and gave her a new figurehead. She then went to the Mediterranean as Nelson's flagship, up to and including at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Monamy was the son of the better-known Francis Swaine and grandson of the even more famous Peter Monamy, after whom he was named. He was active from about 1769 to 1774 and, if this painting is by him, into the 1790s. As an artist he specialized in still-life and genre, although he exhibited two marine pictures at the Free Society of Artists in 1771 and 1772.
Date made circa 1795
Even though Hood was Vice Admiral - correctly displayed with the flag on the fore mast - the lantern is on the main top:
That leads me to the question: Does anybody have more information about the regulations of putting the mast top lanterns?
Cheers and thanks, Daniel
Edited by dafi
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What does the hint about the stern lanterns mean? The painting shows 3 lanterns, as a Vice Admiral he only would light two at night? Or would one be taken down? As a Rear Admiral, would he light the one in the middle or just one left or right?


Cheers, DAniel

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you Robin!


Do you have access to a copy Sailing and Fighting Instructions for His majesty s Fleet 1775, or is it somewhere online available?




Daniel -


I believe they can be found in Navy Records Society (Great Britain). 1905. Fighting Instructions, 1530-1816 Publications Of The Navy Records Society. Vol. 29. [London]. http://archive.org/details/fightinginstruct00navyuoft.


Portions are also available online at The Maritime History Virtual Archives website - “Sailing and Fighting Instructions for His Majesty’s Fleet”, 1775. Accessed May 15. http://www.bruzelius.info/Nautica/Signalling/SFI(1775).html.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Robin and Wayne, wonderful team you are :-)


In Bruzelius found the passage that Robin cited:



Sailing and Fighting Instructions for His Majesty's Fleet. Signals by Day. Distinguishing Lights for the Flags.



The Admiral, who commands the Fleet, is to have three Lights on the Poop, and one on the Main-top.


The Vice-Admiral, or he who has the Second Post, to have two on his Poop, and one on his Main-top.


The Rear-Admiral, or he who has the Third Post, one on his Main-top, and one on his Poop.


The Vice-Admiral of each Squadron, two on his Poop.


The Rear-Admiral of each Squadron, one on his Poop: But when the whole Fleet carry their Lights, then the rear-Admiral of each Squadron is to carry two Lights, the one hoisted a Yard above the other, on the Ensign-staff.


In Case of foul Weather, and a dark Night, each Ship is to carry a Light.

Sailing and Fighting Instructions for His Majesty's Fleet, 1775.


Still have to look for the citation in the larger script.


Thanks a lot mates, you are wonderful!




*rushing off to take his lantern from the fore top to the main*





PS: Hope nothing changed compared to 1805 ;-)

Any idea if Lavery had a bad information or if his quote was appicable in another time frame?

Edited by dafi
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...