Mr. Hodgson, Second Mate

One of the most important accomplishments in William Hope Hodgson’s early life was when he was awarded his Second Mate certificate.  This was significant for several reasons.  First, as Second Mate, he was removed from the worst duties that were assigned to the lower class seamen.  Second, he had some authority aboard ship and no longer would have to endure or fight the brutal treatment other Second Mates had inflicted upon him.  Third, and probably more important, he made more money!

In order to obtain a Second Mate’s certificate, WHH had to study a great deal and pass a difficult and comprehensive test.  But, not surprisingly, he did pass the test and was awarded his certificate on December 15h, 1898.  He was all of 21 years old.

Thanks to the expert data-mining skill of my long suffering wife, Carol Gafford, we can present to you a picture of the actual Certificate WHH received that day in 1898.  It reads thusly:

By the Lords of the

Committee of Privy Council for Trade

Certificate of Competency




To William Hope Hodgson

Whereas it has been reprted to us that you have been found duly

qualified to fufil the duties of Second Mate of  Foreign-going Ship

in the Merchant Service, we do hereby, in pursuance of the Merchant Shipping Act,

1894, grant you this Certificate of Competency

By Order of the Board of Trade

this 15th day of December 1898


Registered at the Office of the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen.

Despite this accomplishment, WHH would leave the sea only two years later in 1900.  Clearly, even with his advanced position, WHH could not reverse his growing hatred of the sea.

Reproduced below is a copy of the original Certificate for your enjoyment!


1 Comment

Filed under Hodgson, William Hope Hodgson

One response to “Mr. Hodgson, Second Mate

  1. Daniel del Valle

    It’s interesting that WHH wrote an adventure story, “Jack Grey, Second Mate” that may give some insight as to his perspective with relation to duties on board ship. This story is rather long and is more a novella. It has the second mate battle an all out mutiny. Supernatural and fantastic elements are few and far between. This story is include in the collection of VOICES IN THE NIGHT RARE STORIES. Reading it gave me shades of Jack London.

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