Commission (document)


Commission (document)

A commission is a physical document issued to certify the appointment of a commissioned officer by a sovereign power.

The more specific terms commissioning parchment or commissioning scroll are often used to avoid ambiguity, due to "commission" being a homonym which directs the individual in carrying out their duty regardless of what authority or responsibility they may have at any time. However the document is not usually in the form of a scroll and is more often printed on paper instead of parchment. In Canada, there is a differentiation in terminology according to rank; officers are accorded commissioning scripts whereas Chief Warrant Officers are accorded scrolls.[1]

Commissions are typically signed by the Head of State or other Commander-in-Chief. In Commonwealth Realms other than the United Kingdom, they are signed by the Governor-General who is also Commander-in-Chief in and over that Realm.

Contents

United Kingdom

The following is typical of the wording of a British commission, and comes from the Royal Naval Reserve:[citation needed]

Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, Lord High Admiral.

To our Trusty and Well Beloved ....... ....... Greeting:

We, reposing especial Trust and Confidence in your Loyalty, Courage, and good Conduct, do by these Presents Constitute and Appoint you to be an Officer in Our Royal Naval Reserve from the .... day of ........ ...... You are therefore carefully and diligently to discharge your Duty as such in the Rank of .............. or in such other Rank as We may from time to time hereafter be pleased to promote you to, of which a notification will be made in the London Gazette, and you are in such manner on such occasions as may be prescribed by Us to exercise and well discipline in their duties such officers, men and women as may be placed under your orders from time to time and use your best endeavours to keep them in good order and discipline.

And We do hereby Command them to Obey you as their superior Officer and you to observe and follow such Orders and Directions as from time to time you shall receive from Us, or any superior Officer, according to the Rules and Discipline of War, in pursuance of the Trust hereby reposed in you.

Given at Our Court, at Saint James's the .... day of ........ .... in the ..... Year of Our Reign

By Her Majesty's Command

The above would be signed by the Queen (although a facsimile signature may be used) and countersigned by two members of the Admiralty Board.

Royal Navy pre-1964

Before the Board of Admiralty were merged into the Ministry of Defence in 1964, with the title of Lord High Admiral reverting to the Crown, the naval officer's commission was signed not by the Sovereign but by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, executing the office of Lord High Admiral. The naval officer's commission was worded as follows:[2]

By the Commissioners for Executing the Office of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom.

To ......... ..........

hereby appointed a ............... in Her Majesty's Fleet.

By Virtue of the Power of Authority to us given by Her Majesty's Letters Patent under the Great Seal, We do hereby constitute and appoint you a .......... in Her Majesty's Fleet. Charging and Commanding you in that rank or in any higher rank to which you may be promoted to observe and execute the Queen's Regulations and Admiralty Instructions for the Government of Her Majesty's Naval Service and all such Orders and Instructions as you shall from time to time receive from Us or from your Superior Officers for Her Majesty's Service. And likewise Charging and Commanding all Officers and Men subordinate to you according to the said Regulations Instructions or Orders to behave themselves with all due Respect and Obedience to you their Superior Officer. Given under our hands and the Seal of the Office of Admiralty this .... day of ......... .... in the .... Year of Her Majesty's Reign.

By Command

With Seniority of ..............

Similarly the following is the wording of a Lieutenant's Commission from 1800:

By the Commissioners for executing the Office of the Lord High Admiral of Great Britain and Ireland &c and of all His Majesty's Plantations &c.

To Lieut. ..... hereby appointed Lieutenant of His Majesty's Ship the.......

By Virtue of the Power and Authority to us given We do hereby constitute and appoint you Lieutenant of His Majesty's Ship the ..... willing and requiring you forthwith to go on board and take upon you the Charge and Command of Lieutenant in her accordingly. Strictly Charging and Commanding all the Officers and Company belonging to the said ship subordinate to you to behave themselves jointly and severally in their respective Employments with all the Respect and Obedience unto you their said Lieutenant; And you likewise to observe and execute as well the General printed Instructions as what Orders and Directions you shall from time to time receive from your Captain or any other your superior Officers for His Majesty's service. Hereof nor you nor any of you may fail as you will answer the contrary at your peril. And for so doing this shall be your Warrant. Given under our hands and the Seal of the Office Admiralty this ..... day of ....., ..... in the ..... Year of His Majesty's Reign.

By Command of their Lordships

Seniority ..............


It was signed by two Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty and a Secretary, i.e. a quorum of the Board of Admiralty.

Canada

Here is an example from Canada:

Commission of a naval (acting sub-lieutenant) male (indicated in French) officer

ELIZABETH THE SECOND, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith

To ........ .........

hereby appointed an Officer in Her Majesty’s Canadian Armed Forces

With Seniority of the .... day of ......... ....

WE reposing especial Trust and Confidence in your Loyalty, Courage and Integrity do by these Presents Constitute and Appoint you to be an Officer in our Canadian Armed Forces. You are therefore carefully and diligently to discharge your Duty as such in the Rank of .............. or in such other Rank as We may from time to time hereafter be pleased to promote or appoint you to, and you are in such manner and on such occasions as may be prescribed by us to exercise and well discipline both the Inferior Officers and Non-Commissioned Members serving under you and use your best endeavour to keep them in good Order and Discipline, and We do hereby Command them to Obey you as their Superior Officer, and you to observe and follow such Orders and Directions as from time to time you shall receive from Us, or any other your Superior Officer according to Law, in pursuance of the Trust hereby Reposed in you.

IN WITNESS Whereof our Governor General of Canada hath hereunto set her hand and Seal at Our Government House in the City of Ottawa this .... day of .......... in the Year of our Lord ................... and in the .... Year of Our Reign.

By Command of Her Excellency the Governor General

Canadian Commissioning Scripts, as they are properly called by NDHQ, are signed by the Governor General of Canada and countersigned by the Minister of National Defence.

United States

Commissions of officers in the U.S. Armed Forces are issued in the name of the President, although officers at and below the rank of Captain (Lieutenant in the Navy and Coast Guard) are actually appointed by the Secretary of Defense or, for the Coast Guard, the Secretary of Homeland Security. The commission of a newly commissioned officer would read:

The President of the United States of America

To all who shall see these presents, greeting:

Know Ye, that reposing special trust and confidence in the patriotism, valor, fidelity and abilities of .................., I do appoint ["him" or "her"] a ["Second Lieutenant" or "Ensign"] in the [name of service] to rank as such from the .... day of ........ ...... This Officer will therefore carefully and diligently discharge the duties of the office to which appointed by doing and performing all manner of things thereunto belonging.

And I do strictly charge and require those Officers and other personnel of lesser rank to render such obedience as is due an officer of this grade and position. And this Officer is to observe and follow such orders and directives, from time to time, as may be given by me, or the future President of the United States of America, or other Superior Officers acting in accordance with the laws of the United States of America.

This commission is to continue in force during the pleasure of the President of the United States of America for the time being, under the provisions of those Public Laws relating to Officers of the Armed Forces of the United States of America and the component thereof in which this appointment is made.

Done at the City of Washington, this .... day of ........ in the year of our Lord ................ and of the Independence of the United States of America the ..........

By the President:

The certificate is signed by the Secretary of the Military Department concerned (Secretary of the Army, Secretary of the Navy & Secretary of the Air Force), or the Secretary of Homeland Security for the Coast Guard, and attested by the officer in charge of personnel of the service concerned (e.g., Adjutant General of the Army, Chief of Naval Personnel, etc.)

Sweden

An example of a Swedish commission from 1962, signed by King Gustav VI Adolf

Officers in the Swedish Armed Forces do not receive written commission since 1982 when a new command structure was instituted. As of 1982 they are hired on contracts, as in any other job. Prior to 1982 all officers received written certificates of commission, signed by the King of Sweden.

The wording in English translation would be;

We Gustaf Adolf, By the Grace of God, King of the Swedes, the Goths and the Wends, make know that: We by this open commission have by grace commissioned and appoint the ... [present rank] in the ... [name of service or regiment] ... [recipients name] that from ... [day] of ... [month] ... [year] be ... [new rank] in the ... [name of service or regiment]. This for the observance of all. Given at Our Palace in Stockholm on the .. [day] of ... [month] ... [year].

See also

  • Commissioned officer
  • Roving commission

References


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