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
OF A FOREIGN-GOING SHIP.
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!