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A Cadet, also reffered to as a Midshipman or Apprentice Lieutenant, was somebody who held the lowest rank of officer in the British Royal Navy. The rank was one of two junior officer positions, which meant that they were not fully commisioned or ready to be made a leftenant. Most often, cadets were the teenaged sons of wealthy nobles or former officers who wished the pursuit of a naval career by their children. Essentially, cadets were apprentices to more senior lieutenants aboard their assigned ship. It was their job to shadow full officers as to gain experience for when the time came for them to be fully commissioned themselves.

An average midshipman was usually assigned a detatchment of about five sailors to oversee. They were also responsible for manning and commanding a specific ammount of cannons in a broadside if they were stationed aboard a larger vessel like a frigate or corvette. Sometimes, in the event of taking a prize, cadets were entrusted to take their detatchment aboard the captured vessel and sail it to the nearest national port. On these occasions, cadets were promoted to the honorary rank of "acting lieutenant". This position was only temporary, however, and Acting Lieutenants reverted back to Midshipmen and continued to carry out the duties of a cadet following relievance of a prize command.

At the end of apprenticeship, cadets had the opportunity to take an examination that would allow the admiralty to fully commission them as independant lieutenants. Sometimes, if not quite ready to be commisioned, cadets were promoted to Ensign which was a position reserved for those in a state of limbo who were too old to be a midshipman but not quite ready to take on the full responcibility recquired of a commisioned lieutenant, as well as those who joined the navy late and were too old to be cadets.


Cadets generally wore white shirts with dark knickers and a navy-blue coat or vest to distinguish their position as a junior officer. Most cadets wore standard boatswain-styled caps, though the more esteemed ones were sometimes known to wear bicornes. It wasn't uncommon for cadets to wear scarlet coats instead of the standard regulation waistcoats. That was the outfit most favored by those cadets who were stationed in Port Royal.

Notable cadets

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