Horatio Nelson’s passing certificate, 9 April 1777
Nelson’s uncle, Maurice Suckling played a pivotal role in his early career. Suckling was instrumental in securing Nelson’s first employment in the Navy on his ship HMS Raisonnable. When Nelson passed his lieutenancy examination, Suckling was Comptroller of the navy, and one of the officers on his examination board. He deliberately did not inform his co-examining officers that Nelson was his nephew because ‘he did not wish the younker to be favoured. I felt convinced he would pass a good examination and you see, gentlemen, I have not been disappointed’ (Pocock, page 22).
Nelson was under 19 years of age when he took his examination. Naval regulations stipulated that candidates had to be aged 20 years or over, but this was overlooked in Nelson’s case possibly because he was related to the Comptroller of the navy.