Lieutenant James Kineer Hancock, the son of Rear-Admiral Richard Turner Hancock, entered the Royal Naval College in 1832 and joined the Ship's Company of H.M.S. North Star as a Volunteer lst Class in 1834. Following service on the South America Station, he removed to the Samarang, aboard whom he served as a Midshipman and Mate until 1839, when he passed his examination. Subsequently engaged in the China operations of early 1841, Hancock returned home to join the Bellisle but got back in time to witness operations in the Yang-tse-Kiang in July 1842. Confirmed in the rank of Lieutenant in 1843, he went on to serve on the Hong Kong and Africa Stations prior to being placed on Half-Pay in 1848.