Lieutenant, c. 1799. Midshipmen had to pass an examination to be promoted to the rank of lieutenant, usually around the age of 19. Lieutenants were in charge of deck watches, and in action commanded a gun battery. They were sometimes despatched on shore in ports like London in charge of press gangs. Although landsmen were sometimes taken by mistake or by malice, the gang concentrated their efforts on finding experienced seamen, who were often taken from merchant ships in port at the time.