Rear Admiral Policarpus Taylor by Barbara Lewellen
Naval Officer Training

Rear Admiral Policarpus Taylor

Mediterranean, West Indies, Jamaica, the Channel, and the Colony of America

MIDSHIPMAN (1727-1733)

Policarpus Taylor, went to sea, like most boys, at about the age of 14-15. Navy careers attracted the younger sons of families looking for an occupation since the first born son acquired their fathers estate. The 18th century Navy provided the means of obtaining landed-gentry social status, with prize money procuring land.

At sea training was considered the most effective means for young men to learn the skills of seamanship. Training as a midshipman consisted of six years of training, usually under the watchful eye of the commander of the ship. Acquiring math skills was deemed necessary for learning navigation, along with the skills of speaking foreign languages. At the end of the six years of training or upon reaching the required age of twenty-one years old, Policarpus would take a Lieutenants Exam."


LIEUTENANT - May 4, 1733

Upon passing the "Lieutenant's Exam" Policarpus Taylor became a commissioned officer in the Royal Navy of Great Britain. Policarpus Taylor earned the appointment of Lieutenant on May 4, 1733. Assuming that Policarpus was 20 to 21 years old in 1733, his birth date is about 1711-1712.


COMMANDER - June 21, 1739

The Augusta arrived at Portsmouth April 14, 1739. The Master Shipwright in Portsmouth  filed a report stating "the bottoms of the Elizabeth and the Augusta were found to be in good condition." A defect was discovered in the main mast of the Augusta requiring repair on May 5, 1739. The Augusta departed for Spithead May 12th after the completion of repairs to the main mast. 

On June 9th preparations were commenced to prepare the Augusta for Foreign Service. Captain Thomas Trevor reported June 13th  that "the ship's boat was overturned going from Spithead to Portsmouth. The surgeon, Joseph Brothers, was drowned."

John Guy, of the Augusta, requested to relinquish his post as Master of the Augusta, June 20, 1739.   Lieutenant Taylor was promoted on June 21, 1739 to Commander of the Augusta, a 60-gun, 4th Rate ship.  Sir Chaloner Ogle, hoisted his broad pennant on the Augusta June 26, 1739 and departed Spithead June 30th for excursions to the West Indies.

Two weeks later, a report dated July 13th, came in from Captain Lee that the Augusta had lost her foremast and would require a replacement on arrival at Plymouth Yard.  At the end of July, repairs completed to the foremast, Sir Chaloner Ogle departed with the Augusta, along with the Pembrooke and Jersey and the Cruizer Sloop to the Bristol Channel.

The monthly books and tickets for the Augusta were sent by Peter Lawrence from Gibraltar Bay December 8, 1739.  Sir Chaloner Ogle, of the Augusta was Rear Admiral of the Blue Squadron by the summer of 1740.  Late in August of the same year, the Augusta arrived at the Plymouth Dock with fifty sick men from the Fleet to go the hospital. The Augusta departed August 29, 1740, for the West Indies. Commissioner Richard Hughes, Portsmouth Dock reported receipt of warrant appointing as Master of the Augusta, Elmes Balgay.

Books and tickets of the Augusta, were sent by Charles Dennison from Port Royal, Jamaica on May 18, 1741. Admiral Vernon of the Boyne reported from Port Royal, that the Augusta's mast had sprung  the 17th of June, 1741.


CAPTAIN - May 2, 1743
of the HMS BOYNE

Policarpus Taylor moved in June of 1741 to Vernon's flagship the HMS Boyne.  Edward Vernon, was Vice Admiral of the Blue, stationed in Jamaica. Captain Taylor served two years on the HMS Boyne from June 1741 to May 1743. Traveling to Port Royal, Jamaica; Spithead, England; and Cumberland Harbour, Cuba. Commander Taylor was promoted to a Captain, on May 2, 1743, ten years after becoming a commissioned Navy officer.

Ship Rate Classes - Number Decks, Guns, and Men

Naval ships were classified into six Rate Classes based on three factors: 1) number of decks; 2) number of guns, and 3) number of men serving on board.

The smallest ships classed as 6th Rates, with one deck, 16-18 guns, and 90-125 men, were commanded by entry level officers of rank, usually a midshipman or lieutenant. Ships of 4th, 5th, and 6th rates, were called frigates. Their duties: to conduct intelligence work, conduct raids, provide convoy escort, and relay communications. Larger ships in the 3rd, 2nd and 1st rates, were battleships called "Man-of-Wars". They had 2-3 decks, equipped with 64-100 guns or more and 500-875 men.

First and second rate ships with three gun decks and equipped with 90-100 guns were the "flagships" of admirals. The number of men on a ship is increased by 25 when used as an Admiral's flagship, by 20 with a Vice Admiral and 15 with a Rear-Admiral.


Ship Rate Decks Guns Men Comments Ship Assignments-
Policarpus Taylor
1 3

100 or more

850-875 Battle Warship
Flagships of Admirals
2 3 90-98 700-750 Battle Warship
Flagships of Admirals
Elizabeth - Mar 1748
Lost off coast of Florida along with 30 other vessels about May/June 1748 News Report:
Marlborough - 1756 -
Rear Admiral Policarpus Taylor
3 3 64-80 500-650 Battle Warship Boyne - June 1741 -Vernon's Flagship
Cornwall -Oct 1748 -Knowles Flagship
Culloden - 1756
4 2 50-60


Frigate Augusta - 1739
Admiral Sir Chalonor Ogle
Warwick - 1747
5 2 32-40 200-300 Frigate Fowey - 1745-47
Lost off the coast of Florida along with 30 other vessels about May or June 1748. Under the command of Sir Francis Drake. (
6 1 20-28 140-200


Lieutenant Policarpus Taylor

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Story by Barbara Lewellen
Copyright 2003 Lewellen