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Dear Mr. Bernos,
Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!
In looking at the “Rating” column on the Rendezvous Return, one can see that there are only a limited number of entries listed of which we could decipher a few: Lands (Landsman), Sea (Seaman), what looks like a possible C H (Coal Heaver). The Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) has a web page that outlines the history of Navy ratings (https://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/c/enlisted-ratings-in-u-s-navy-1775-1969.html) that proved very helpful in this analysis.
In looking at the rating entry for George Hunt, the entry begins with what we believe to be a 2c for 2nd class. As for the rest of the entry, the big letter could be a capital letter “F”, while the two lower case letters on top of each other are rather indistinct. That being said, the available evidence from the Rendezvous Return and the NHHC web page suggests that the rating is Fireman 2nd class.
The reasons for the suggestion are two. First, the Navy had very few ratings at the time were one could enlist as a 2nd class anything. The Fireman rating was established in 1842, while the 1st and 2nd class distinctions were created in 1847, so the timing works for the existence of 2nd Class Fireman in 1866. Second, your ancestor’s previous experience as an ironmonger would make him a prime recruit for working in the hot engineering spaces of a mid-19th century steam warship.
We hope this response is helpful. Best of luck with your research!
Thank you SO much for the help! I'm slowly starting to unravel his history and every little bit of information helps, so thank you.