Ernest Rice

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Admiral SIR Ernest Rice, K.C.B., Royal Navy (24 February, 1840 – 15 April, 1927) was an officer of the Royal Navy.

Early Life & Career

On 30 June 1854, Rice was gazetted for operations in "the Gulph of Bothnia."

Rice's entry into the Royal Navy was later recounted by his son-in-law:

He drove with his parents in a carriage and pair from their home at Dane Court to Deal, a distance of some five miles: there he embarked in one of the Deal luggers (now, unhappily, extinct), and was taken out to H.M.S. Odin, lying in the Downs, on her way to the Baltic. He had no previous naval training, but within a few weeks of joining his ship he found himself in a sanguinary boat action, in which his life was in all probability saved by his being unable to extricate himself from beneath the dead body of a marine who had fallen upon him; and in this affair of Gamla Carleby he brought the boats out of action as the only surviving officer.[1]

Rice was promoted to Lieutenant on 9 February, 1860. He served briefly in the wood screw frigate Topaze and then the old second-rate Ganges before being placed in the armoured gunboat Vixen on 8 January 1861, where he served for most of the year.

He served in the second-rate Hero from 14 October 1861 until she was paid off on 22 November 1862.

Rice was sent to the gunnery training school H.M.S. Excellent for instruction in gunnery on 28 February, 1863 and emerged with a first-class certificate on 10 January 1864. He took these new skills to the first-rate Duncan where he would serve as gunnery officer until being invalided on 1 January, 1867.

Rice was promoted to the rank of Commander on 22 October, 1870.

Rice was promoted to Commander on 25 March, 1878.

As a Captain, in 1889, Rice wrecked the central battery ironclad Sultan by running around on an uncharted rock while conducting gun and torpedo exercises 600 yards off the coast of Malta. The ship sank eight days after running aground and Rice was reprimanded for operating so near the five fathom line.[2]

In March 1892, Rice served on a committee on naval rangefinders.

Flag Rank

Rice was promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral on 13 May, 1893, vice Adeane.[3] He was promoted to the rank of Vice-Admiral on 13 July, 1899, vice Molyneux.[4]

On 21 May, 1903 Rice was appointed as Admiral Commanding Coastguard and Reserves.[5] His Assistant, Captain (later Admiral Sir) George F. King-Hall, noted in his diary on 2 September: "To my surprise saw Admiral Rice's engagement to a Mrs Gunning. Sly dog. He has been shooting and gunning, with a purpose."[6]

He was promoted to the rank of Admiral on 15 March, 1904, vice Bridge.[7] In accordance with the provisions of the Order in Council of 22 February, 1870, he was placed on the Retired List on 24 February, 1905.[8]

On the occasion of King George V's birthday Rice was appointed an Ordinary Member of the Second Class, or Knight Commander, in the Military Division of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (K.C.B.) on 22 June, 1914.[9]


  • "Admiral Sir Ernest Rice" (Obituaries). The Times. Saturday, 16 April, 1927. Issue 44557, col C, p. 12.

Service Records

Naval Appointments
Preceded by
Captain of H.M.S. Albatross
24 Feb, 1874[10] – 26 Jun, 1878
Succeeded by
Arnold J. Errington
Preceded by
Captain of H.M.S. Iris
1 Jan, 1883[11] – 10 Dec, 1885
Succeeded by
Arthur C. H. Paget
Preceded by
Richard D. King
Captain of H.M.S. Sultan
18 Aug, 1887[12] – 8 Apr, 1889
Succeeded by
Count F. C. Metaxa
Preceded by
Captain of H.M.S. Pembroke
23 Jul, 1891 – 15 Jul, 1893
Succeeded by
Robert F. Hammick
Preceded by
Henry F. Cleveland
Vice-President of the Ordnance Committee
21 Nov, 1894[13]
Succeeded by
Archibald L. Douglas
Preceded by
Charles G. Fane
Admiral Superintendent, Portsmouth Dockyard
1 Feb, 1896[14] – 1 Sep, 1899
Succeeded by
Pelham Aldrich
Preceded by
New Position
Admiral Commanding Coastguard and Reserves
21 May, 1903[15]
Succeeded by
Sir Reginald F. H. Henderson


  1. "Training in the Old Navy" (Obituaries). The Times. Tuesday, 19 April, 1927. Issue 44559, col B, p. 15.
  2. Hepper. British Warship Losses in the Ironclad Era: 1860-1919. pp. 13, 14.
  3. The London Gazette: no. 26405. p. 3001. 23 May, 1893.
  4. The London Gazette: no. 27100. p. 4444. 18 July, 1899.
  5. "Naval & Military Intelligence" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Saturday, 9 May, 1903. Issue 37076, col D, p. 8.
  6. Diary entry for 2 September, 1903.
  7. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 27659. p. 1791. 18 March, 1904.
  8. The London Gazette: no. 27769. p. 1503. 28 February, 1905.
  9. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 28842. p. 4876. 22 June, 1914.
  10. The Navy List. (July, 1876). p. 129.
  11. The Navy List. (September, 1885). p. 219.
  12. The Navy List. (February, 1888). p. 231.
  13. Rice Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/37. f. 1099.
  14. Clowes. The Royal Navy. Vol. VII. p. 6.
  15. "Naval & Military Intelligence" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Saturday, 9 May, 1903. Issue 37076, col D, p. 8.