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As the title 'Captain' was given to any officer who commanded a ship, regardless of rank, the term 'post-captain' was a means of distinguishing those who held the rank of Captain.

Best known for his victory in the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), where he also lost his life, Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson is England's perhaps most famous admiral. A superb strategist, but also tactician, Nelson fought many battles and won several decisive victories. Always in the line of fire alongside his men, Nelson lost an arm and one eye and was wounded numerous times. His legacy remains very much alive and influential.

His Majesty's Ship Belleisle after the Battle of Trafalgar 21st October 1805; picture by Lionel Wyllie

This painting (by Henry Perronett Briggs, 1828) depicts the visit of King George III and Queen Charlotte to Lord Howe's flagship, the Queen Charlotte, on 24 June 1794. The visit was arranged to celebrate Howe's victory over the French off Ushant, known as the "Glorious First of June". Note Pitt standing on the far left. Pitt's brother Chatham, then First Lord of the Admiralty, is immediately to the right of the chap in the red and gold pelisse.