Page images
PDF
EPUB

civil class was to be conferred for diplomatic services, and was limited to twelve members; while the whole number of Knights Grand Cross was not to exceed seventy-two, exclusive of the Sovereign and of Princes of the Blood Royal, holding commissions as general or flag-officers, who were to belong to the military division. The second class was to be called Knights-COMMANDER, and was limited to one hundred and eighty members, exclusive of foreigners holding British commissions, of whom ten might be appointed. No military officer under the rank of lieutenant-colonel, nor any naval officer under the rank of post-captain, is eligible for this class; and all Knights Grand Cross must previously have been Knights-Commander. This latter rule has, however, been occasionally violated. The third class was to be called COMPANIONS, and to consist of such naval and military officers as had received medals or other badges of honour, or had been mentioned by name in any gazetted despatch as having distinguished themselves in action against the enemy, since the year 1803. To the two latter classes of the Order, an attendant officer of arms and a secretary were at the same time appointed. The Knights Grand Cross and Knights-Commander were granted the prefix of “ Sir,” while the Companions were not to enjoy that distinction, in right of their appointment to the Order of the Bath.

By subsequent regulations, it was determined that fifteen officers of the East India Company's service, of, or above the rank of lieutenant-colonel, might be added to the existing number of knights-commander ; and that other officers of the same service might perform that ceremony by proxy, and that this deputy or proxy should be a knight.

In 1727, a statute was issued ordaining, that in case of foreign invasion or rebellion, each companion should be bound to maintain four men-at-arms, for forty-two days in each year, for service, within Great Britain ; but this has never been enforced.

In 1812, a royal warrant was published authorizing the appointment of extra knights, while the constituent number remained the same as originally stated in the letters patent. Although a few extra knights had been from time to time appointed previous to the publication of the warrant, yet the necessity which arose of more extensively rewarding distinguished military services occasioned the issue of this statute, under which eleven extra knights were nominated. Subsequently many military and naval commanders were added to this class; but the year 1815 was that in which the present constitution of the order was definitively fixed. The enlargement which it then underwent was the natural con. sequence of the termination of a great war, when an opportunity arose of rewarding the distinguished services, on land and sea, by which that struggle was brought to so triumphant a conclusion. On the 2nd of January, therefore, a royal warrant was issued, by which the Order was divided into three classes. The first class, comprising all the existing knights, was denominated, Knights Grand Cross, and was subdivided into two portions, one military and one civil. The military division was to consist of officers in the army and navy who were not below the rank of major-general or rear-admiral.

civil class was to be conferred for diplomatic services, and was limited to twelve members; while the whole number of Knights Grand Cross was not to exceed seventy-two, exclusive of the Sovereign and of Princes of the Blood Royal, holding commissions as general or flag-officers, who were to belong to the military division. The second class was to be called Knights-COMMANDER, and was limited to one hundred and eighty members, exclusive of foreigners holding British commissions, of whom ten might be appointed. No military officer under the rank of lieutenant-colonel, nor any naval officer under the rank of post-captain, is eligible for this class; and all Knights Grand Cross must previously have been Knights-Commander. This latter rule has, how- . ever, been occasionally violated. The third class was to be called COMPANIONS, and to consist of such naval and military officers as had received medals or other badges of honour, or had been mentioned by name in any gazetted despatch as having distinguished themselves in action against the enemy, since the year 1803. To the two latter classes of the Order, an attendant officer of arms and a secretary were at the same time appointed. The Knights Grand Cross and Knights-Commander were granted the prefix of “Sir," while the Companions were not to enjoy that distinction, in right of their appointment to the Order of the Bath.

By subsequent regulations, it was determined that fifteen officers of the East India Company's service, of, or above the rank of lieutenant-colonel, might be added to the existing number of knights-commander; and that other officers of the same service might be nominated companions ; but that the regulations restricting the numbers of the several classes in the Order should not prevent the appointment of any officer for services in “future wars or actions of signal distinction.”

The statutes declare that each member shall be elected by the knights in chapter assembled; but all nominations have been made by the mere will of the sovereign. The ancient rights of vigils, bathing, &c., though declared to be compulsory, have always been dispensed with by warrant from the Sovereign.

The proper style and ceremonial designation of the order is “the most honourable Military Order of the Bath."

Among the changes which practice has introduced, none are more remarkable than the violation of the statute which limits the number admitted into each class ; for at present there are upwards of one hun. dred and five knights grand cross, though that class was by statute limited to seventy-two ; and the other classes are in a similar condition.

The secretary of state for the Colonies (in his capacity of secretary for the war department) is the officer to whom recommendations for the Order of the Bath are addressed, by the commander-in-chief, by the first lord of the Admiralty, or by the presi. dent of the Board of Controul.

The Great Master is appointed during the pleasure of the sovereign, with full powers for the nomination of the other officers of the order, except the dean. His duties are mainly those of the sovereign's deputy, viz. presiding over chapters and ceremonials, conferring the honour of knighthood on the members elect, investing and installing the new knights, and performing other functions of the sovereign in the absence of the latter. It is not merely an honorary office, for £138 was ordered to be paid to him on the appointment of every knight.

The first great master was the Duke of Montagu, and he filled the office till July, 1749, since which period it has remained vacant ; but many of the duties (except appointing the officers and receiving the fees) have been performed by a prince of the blood royal, as acting great master.

The Dean of the Order is its highest officer (for there is no prelate); and the dean of the collegiate church of St. Peter's, Westminster, for the time being, always fills this situation. He performs divine service and administers the oath, &c. to the knights elect. While the office of great master is vacant, he summons the knights to all chapters and cere. monials, at which he himself possesses a vote.

The Genealogist enters in the books of the Order the pedigree of each knight. He is constituted Blanc Coursier Herald by letters patent, and this office is inseparably annexed to that of genealogist of the Bath. The king of arms calls over the knights at conventions and chapters, precedes them at coronations, conducts the knights-elect to the sovereign, and bears the ensigns of the order on a velvet cushion at investitures. His office is consolidated with that of Gloucester Herald.

The Registrar's duties consist in recording all decrees and proceedings affecting the Order ; but not only have these duties remained unfulfilled, but

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »