What Did Carlisle & Holbrooke Look Like?

Many of us have a mental image of the characters in the books that we read. I asked my friend Bob Payne to create pictures of the two main characters in the Carlisle & Holbrooke naval adventures, principally so that readers could see what the uniforms of the time looked like.

Captain Edward Carlisle

The first uniforms for British sea officers were instituted by Admiralty Order of 13th April 1748, and they applied only to admirals, captains, commanders, lieutenants and midshipmen; warrant officers were not included in the initial order and it would be very many years before a uniform existed for the common sailors.

These pictures show the working uniforms (or ‘frock’ coats). There was a more elaborate dress uniform for formal occasions. For daily wear aboard ship the coat would often be discarded, and in hot weather the long waistcoat may also have been removed.

Commander George Holbrooke

This uniform was replaced by a new design in 1767, so it had a relatively short life that nevertheless covered the Seven Years’ War and a few years beyond.

The original patterns for the uniforms no longer exist and we can’t be sure how universally the uniform was adopted and how slavishly the patterns were followed. The portraits and examples that still exist suggest that there was a fair amount of personal choice in the details.

You can find biographical details of the two men here:


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