The Board of Admiralty was established in 1628 when Charles I put the office of Lord High Admiral into commission. As that position was not always occupied, the purpose was to enable management of the day-to-day operational requirements of the Royal Navy; at that point administrative control of the navy was still the responsibility of the Navy Board, established in 1546. This system remained in place until 1832, when the Board of Admiralty became the sole authority charged with both administrative and operational control of the navy when the Navy Board was abolished. The term Admiralty has become synonymous with the command and control of the Royal Navy, partly personified in the Board of Admiralty and in the Admiralty buildings in London from where operations were in large part directed. It existed until 1964 when the office of First Lord of the Admiralty was finally abolished and the functions of the Lords Commissioners were transferred to the new Admiralty Board and the tri-service Defence Council of the United Kingdom.
|Board of Admiralty|
Flag of the Lord High Admiral. When the office was "put into commission", the flag was used by the commissioners executing the office of Lord High Admiral.
|Jurisdiction||Government of the United Kingdom|
The office of Lord High Admiral was created in around 1400 to take charge of the Royal Navy. It was one of the Great Officers of State. The office could be exercised by an individual (as was invariably the case until 1628), by the Crown directly (as was the case between 1684 and 1689), or by a Board of Admiralty. The office of the Lord High Admiral from creation was the titular head of the Royal Navy they were primarily responsible for policy direction, operational control and maritime jurisdiction of the service. On the death of the Duke of Buckingham in 1628 his office of Lord High Admiral was put into commission by King Charles I, six Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty were appointed to execute the office jointly. In 1638 the office of Lord High Admiral was revived, but throughout the rest of the seventeenth century there were periods when the office was again in commission and even when there was a Lord High Admiral, he was often advised by a separate council, which was virtually a Board of Admiralty under another name. Finally in 1708 the Board of Admiralty became the normal instrument for governing the navy operationally on a day to basis, however the responsibility for the day to day administrative affairs of the naval service lay with another authority known as the Navy Board it was established earlier by King Henry VIII in 1546 which had evolved out of the Council of the Marine, there was an exception for the period 1827 to 1828, when the office of Lord High Admiral was temporarily revived for William, Duke of Clarence, later King William IV.
After the serving Lord High Admiral, the Duke of York (future James II of England), had been disqualified from the office as a Roman Catholic following the Test Act of 1673, the Board of Commissioners consisted of between twelve and sixteen Privy Councillors, who served without salaries. In 1679 this was changed, and the number of Commissioners was reduced to seven, who were to receive salaries and need not be members of the Privy Council.
With the exception of the years 1702 to 1709 and 1827 to 1828, when an individual Lord High Admiral was appointed who convened a Lord High Admirals Council to manage naval affairs, this remained the case (although the number of Commissioners varied) until the Admiralty became part of the Ministry of Defence in 1964.
The eighteenth century Board of Admiralty usually contained a preponderance of civilians, although there was a naval element and often a sea officer was First Lord. The Lords Commissioners were all active politicians, even the naval members, and it was usual for some members and later the whole of the Board to change on a change of ministry. After 1806 the First Lord was always a civilian and a senior member of the ministry, while the separate post of First Sea Lord was evolved for the senior professional member. However, until late in the nineteenth century the First Sea Lord and his professional colleagues remained free to play an active part in politics, although as the century progressed they chose to do so less and less. Until the absorption of the High Court of Admiralty into the Court of Judicature they nominally retained, as executors of the office of Lord High Admiral, their centuries-old link with that court.
When the Navy Board was abolished in 1832 and responsibility for the civil administration of the Navy passed to the Board of Admiralty, the Board was redesigned. It now consisted of the First Lord of the Admiralty, four Naval Lords (three between 1868 and 1886), known from 1904 as Sea Lords, and a Civil Lord, with a Parliamentary and a Permanent Secretary.
The Lords Commissioners remained jointly responsible, subject to the controlling political authority of the First Lord, for all aspects of naval affairs, but in addition, especially after the reforms of 1869, they had individual responsibility for the work of the several departments of the Admiralty. This responsibility did not always coincide with control of staff and the head of a department might be responsible to two or more Lords Commissioners for the different aspects of his department's work.
The Lords Commissioners usually comprised a mixture of serving admirals, first called Naval Lord Commissioners, then Naval Lords then Professional Naval Lords then Sea Lords, later were added the Naval Staff Lords, and the politicians, Civil Lords, with the civil lords usually in a majority prior to 1830 and finally the Civil Secretaries. Between 1832 and 1869 following the abolition of Navy Board a number of Civilian Naval Officials were also appointed as members.
|President of the Board was known as the First Lord of the Admiralty, or sometimes First Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty||He was a member of the Cabinet and political head of the naval service. After 1806, the First Lord of the Admiralty was always a civilian previous to this the post holder was sometimes a Naval officer.|
|First Sea Lord, later known as First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff||he directed naval strategy in wartime and was responsible for planning, operations and intelligence, for the distribution of the Fleet and for its fighting efficiency and military head of the Navy.|
|Second Sea Lord, later known as the Second Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Personnel||He was responsible for manning and mobilisation and other personnel questions relating to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.|
|Third Sea Lord, later known as the Controller of the Navy||He was mainly responsible for Naval and construction, Material Departments, Ship design.|
|Fourth Sea Lord (or junior) Sea Lord and later Fourth Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Supplies||He was chiefly responsible for the Transport, Victualling and Medical Departments|
|Fifth Sea Lord later known as Fifth Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Air Services||He had overall responsibility for all naval aviation affairs|
|Secretary to the Admiralty, later known as the Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty||He was responsible for all naval finance generally, the preparation of estimates and parliamentary business.|
|Second Secretary to the Admiralty was later called Permanent Secretary to the Admiralty||He was responsible to the First Lord for preparing all official communications of the Board and for the interior economy of the Admiralty Office; They were also responsible as Accounting Officer for Navy Votes and Accounts, for the control of expenditure and for advising the Board of Admiralty and other naval authorities on all questions of naval expenditure. From 1702 until 1920 he was not a permanent fixed member of the board until 1921. The Permanent Secretary was also head of the Admiralty Secretariat|
|Civil Lord of the Admiralty||He was responsible for the Royal Navy's supporting civilian staff, its works departments and naval lands officially designated as an office held by one person from 1830 until 1964.|
|Additional Civil Lord of the Admiralty||He was a member of the board from 1882 to 1885 and 1912 to 1919 and was responsible for promotions and transfers of professional officers and workmen in the dockyards.|
|Controller||He was responsible for production (military and civil), from 1917 to 1918. This member should be not be confused with the office of Third Sea Lord and Controller of the Navy which existed as different functions throughout the years, with a break between 1912 and 1918. This role was the first civil controller of the navy since the abolition of the Navy Board in 1832.|
|Controller of Merchant Shipbuilding and Repair||A member briefly from 1917 to 1918 and 1939-1945 he had responsibility for Merchant Shipbuilding and Repairs worked with the Controller however this role later became the responsibility Third Sea Lord.|
|Accountant-General of the Navy||A member briefly from 1832 to 1869 when the Navy Board was abolished and its then Principle Officers were given places on the Board of Admiralty he had responsibility for Naval Estimates his department would later be merged with that of the Permanent Secretary's in 1932.|
|Controller of Victualling||A member briefly from 1832 to 1869 when the Navy Board was abolished and its then Principle Officers were given places on the Board of Admiralty he had responsibility for the Victualling Service and Staff.|
|Director-General of the Medical Department||A member briefly from 1832 to 1869 when the Navy Board was abolished and its then Principle Officers were given places on the Board of Admiralty he had responsibility for Medical Establishments and Staff.|
|Storekeeper-General of the Navy||A member briefly from 1832 to 1869 when the Navy Board was abolished and its then Principle Officers were given places on the Board of Admiralty he had responsibility for Naval Stores and Staff his office was merged with that of the Third Naval Lord and Controller of the Navy.|
|Surveyor of the Navy||A member from 1848 to 1859 who had responsibility for ship design his office was renamed Controller of the Navy who's office was amalgamated with that of the Third Naval Lords in 1869.|
|Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff||Additional Staff Naval Lord and board member from 1917 to 1964. He had responsibility for Admiralty Naval Staff Divisions.|
|Deputy First Sea Lord||Additional Staff Naval Lord and board member from 1917 to 1919 and again from 1942 to 1946. He had responsibility for Admiralty Naval Staff Divisions.|
|Vice Chief of the Naval Staff||Additional Staff Naval Lord and board member from 1941 to 1964. He had responsibility for Admiralty Naval Staff Divisions.|
|Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff (Policy)||Additional Staff Naval Lord and board member from 1917 to 1964. He had responsibility for Admiralty Naval Staff Divisions.|
During the First World War the number of Sea Lords was increased at one time to eight and the number of Civil Lords to three, but after the war most of these extra members left the Board. In 1938 the title of the Board member designated Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Air) was altered to Fifth Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Air Services. For fuller details of Board membership during this period see The Second World War: A Guide to Documents in the Public Record Office (PRO Handbooks No.15) pp13–24.
The specialist departments of the Board of Admiralty changed their names and functions, and varied in number, from time to time, but the system on which the Admiralty was organised continued unchanged until 1 April 1964, when the Board became the Admiralty Board of the Defence Council of the Ministry of Defence, the office of Lord High Admiral itself being vested in HM the Queen.
Duties were assigned to each Lord Commissioner by the First Lord and defined in a Minute of the Board, and amended from time to time. the Secretary to the Admiralty "to be posted in the room of each Member of the Board and the Private Secretaries."
The Lords Commissioners were entitled collectively to be known as "The Right Honourable the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty", and were commonly referred to collectively as "Their Lordships" or "My Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty", though individual members were not entitled to these styles. More informally, they were known in short as "The Lords of the Admiralty". That, for example, is the term invariably used throughout the well-known Horatio Hornblower series of historical novels.
With the abolition of the Board of Admiralty and its merger into the Ministry of Defence in 1964, formal control of the Navy was taken over by the Admiralty Board of the Defence Council of the United Kingdom, with the day-to-day running of the Navy taken over by the Navy Board. The office of Lord High Admiral was vested in the Crown (i.e. in the person of the current British monarch) and that of First Lord of the Admiralty ceased to exist, but the First, Second and Third Sea Lords retained their titles, despite ceasing to be Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty.
This article contains text from this source: Records of the Navy Board and the Board of Admiralty/ ADM Division 1/ http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C706. © Crown copyright, which is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0
The Additional Civil Lord of the Admiralty or formally the Office of the Additional Civil Lord of the Admiralty sometimes called the Department of the Additional Civil Lord of the Admiralty was a member of the Board of Admiralty first from 1882 to 1885 and then again from 1912 to 1919 who was mainly responsible for administration of contracts for matériel for the Fleet, supervision of the contracts and purchase department and general organisation of dockyards within the Admiralty.Admiralty
The Admiralty, originally known as the Office of the Admiralty and Marine Affairs, was the government department responsible for the command of the Royal Navy first in the Kingdom of England, later in the Kingdom of Great Britain, and from 1801 to 1964, the United Kingdom and former British Empire. Originally exercised by a single person, the Lord High Admiral (1385–1628), the Admiralty was, from the early 18th century onwards, almost invariably put "in commission" and exercised by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, who sat on the Board of Admiralty.
In 1964, the functions of the Admiralty were transferred to a new Admiralty Board, which is a committee of the tri-service Defence Council of the United Kingdom and part of the Navy Department of the Ministry of Defence. The new Admiralty Board meets only twice a year, and the day-to-day running of the Royal Navy is controlled by a Navy Board (not to be confused with the historic Navy Board described later in this article). It is common for the various authorities now in charge of the Royal Navy to be referred to as simply 'The Admiralty'.
The title of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom was vested in the monarch from 1964 to 2011. The title was awarded to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh by Queen Elizabeth II on his 90th birthday. There also continues to be a Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom and a Rear-Admiral of the United Kingdom, both of which are honorary offices.Admiralty Board (United Kingdom)
The Admiralty Board is the body established under the Defence Council of the United Kingdom for the administration of the Naval Service of the United Kingdom. It meets formally only once a year, and the day-to-day running of the Royal Navy is conducted by the Navy Board, which does not include any ministers.
The Admiralty Board was established with the abolition of the Board of Admiralty and the integration of the three service ministries into the Ministry of Defence.
The board is chaired by the Secretary of State for Defence and includes the professional heads of the navy, as well as various ministers and civil servants of the Ministry of Defence.Admiralty in the 17th century
During the early 17th century, England's relative naval power deteriorated, In the course of the rest of the 17th century, The office of the Admiralty and Marine Affairs steered the Navy's transition from a semi-amateur Navy Royal fighting in conjunction with private vessels into a fully professional institution, a Royal Navy. Its financial provisions were gradually regularised, it came to rely on dedicated warships only, and it developed a professional officer corps with a defined career structure, superseding an earlier mix of sailors and socially prominent former soldiers.Civil Lord of the Admiralty (Royal Navy)
The Civil Lord of the Admiralty formally known as the Office of the Civil Lord of Admiralty also referred to as the Department of the Civil Lord of the Admiralty was a member of the Board of Admiralty who was responsible for managing the Royal Navy's supporting civilian staff, the works and buildings departments and naval lands from 1830 to 1964 .Department of the Director of Dockyards
The Department of the Director of Dockyards, also known as the Dockyard Branch and later as the Dockyards and Fleet Maintenance Department, was the British Admiralty department responsible from 1872 to 1964 for civil administration of dockyards, the building of ships, the maintenance and repair of ships at dockyards and factories, and the supervision of all civil dockyard personnel.Deputy First Sea Lord
The Deputy First Sea Lord (D.F.S.L.) was a senior Royal Navy flag officer on the Board of Admiralty of the Royal Navy.Director of Naval Construction
The Director of Naval Construction (DNC) also known as the Department of the Director of Naval Construction and Directorate of Naval Construction and originally known as the Chief Constructor of the Navy was a senior principal civil officer responsible to the Board of Admiralty for the design and construction of the warships of the Royal Navy. From 1883 onwards he was also head of the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors, the naval architects who staffed his department from 1860 to 1966. The (D.N.C.'s) modern equivalent is Director Ships in the Defence Equipment and Support organisation of the Ministry of Defence.Fifth Sea Lord
The Fifth Sea Lord was formerly one of the Naval Lords and members of the Board of Admiralty that controlled the Royal Navy. The post's incumbent had responsibility for naval aviation.First Lord of the Admiralty
The First Lord of the Admiralty, or formally the Office of the First Lord of the Admiralty, was the political head of the Royal Navy who was the government's senior adviser on all naval affairs and responsible for the direction and control of Admiralty as well as general administration of the Naval Service of the United Kingdom, that encompassed the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines and other services. It was one of the earliest known permanent government posts. Apart from being the political head of the Royal Navy the post holder simultaneously held the title of the President of the Board of Commissioners for Exercising the Office of Lord High Admiral (known as the Board of Admiralty). The office of First Lord of the Admiralty existed from 1628 until it was abolished when the Admiralty, Air Ministry, Ministry of Defence and War Office were all merged to form the new Ministry of Defence in 1964.First Sea Lord
The First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff (1SL/CNS) is the professional head of the United Kingdom's Royal Navy and the whole Naval Service. Originally the title was the Senior Naval Lord to the Board of Admiralty when the post was created in 1689. The office holder was then re-styled First Naval Lord from 1771. The concept of a professional "First Naval Lord" was introduced in 1805 and the title of the First Naval Lord was changed to "First Sea Lord" on the appointment of Sir Jackie Fisher in 1904. From 1923 onward, the First Sea Lord was a member of the Chiefs of Staff Committee; he now sits on the Defence Council and the Admiralty Board.The current First Sea Lord is Admiral Sir Philip Jones (appointed in April 2016). Since 2012 the flagship of the First Sea Lord has been Horatio, Lord Nelson's ship of the line, HMS Victory.Fourth Sea Lord
The Fourth Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Supplies originally known as the Fourth Naval Lord was formerly one of the Naval Lords and members of the Board of Admiralty which controlled the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom the post is currently known as Chief of Materiel (Fleet). As of 2017, it is also known as Chief of Fleet Support.Lord High Admirals Council
The Lord High Admirals Council was a series of councils appointed to advise and assist the Lord High Admiral of England and then later of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in the direction of Naval Affairs also known as Council of the Lord High Admiral when the Board of Admiralty was not in commission the first series took place between 1702-1708 and second and final series of councils took place from 1827-1828.Naval Works Department (Royal Navy)
The Naval Works Department was the department of the Inspector-General of Naval Works, Brigadier-General Sir Samuel Bentham, who in 1796 had been given responsibility (over and above that of the Navy Board) for modernising and mechanising the Royal Navy dockyards. The Department was established under the direct authority of the Board of Admiralty on 25 March 1796. In 1808 Bentham's job title was changed to Civil Architect and Engineer of the Navy, and he and his department were placed under the oversight of the Navy Board. In 1812 Bentham was dismissed and the department dissolved; most of its responsibilities were taken over by a new Department of the Surveyor of Buildings.Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty
The Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty also known as the Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Board of Admiralty was a position on the Board of Admiralty and civil officer of the British Royal Navy. It was usually filled by a Member of Parliament although he attended Board of Admiralty meetings informally he was not made a full member of that Board until 1929, he served as the deputy to the First Lord of the Admiralty in Parliament, he was mainly responsible for all Naval Accounts, Estimates, Expenditure, Finance and Spending proposals from 1625 until 1959.Sixpenny Office
The Sixpenny Office was one of the British admiralty's smaller offices. Established in 1696, it was originally based at Tower Hill, London. The office's main responsibility was the collection of six pence from all serving seaman's wage's on a monthly basis that was used to fund Greenwich Hospital's provision of care for sick and aged seaman. .The office was administered by navy board Commissioners for Managing the Sixpenny Duty for the Support of Greenwich Hospital until 1832 when it, along with the Navy Board, was abolished and its functions were dispersed between the members of the Board of Admiralty.Surveyor of Buildings (Royal Navy)
The Surveyor of Buildings also known as the Department of the Surveyor of Buildings was the civil officer initially a member of the Navy Board then later the Board of Admiralty responsible for superintending, maintaining and improving the British Royal Navy Dockyards, Naval Buildings, and Architectural Works of the Admiralty from 1812 to 1837.Surveyor of the Navy
The Surveyor of the Navy also known as Department of the Surveyor of the Navy and originally known as Surveyor and Rigger of the Navy was a former principle commissioner and member of both the Navy Board from the inauguration of that body in 1546 until its abolition in 1832 and then a member Board of Admiralty from 1848-1859. In 1860 the office was renamed Controller of The Navy until 1869 when the office was merged with that of the Third Naval Lord's the post holder held overall responsibility for the design of British warships.Trade Division (Royal Navy)
The Trade Division was a Directorate of the British Admiralty, Naval Staff responsible for all matters in relation to U.K. Trade Defence from 1914 until 1928 and then again from 1939-1961.
|Staff Naval Lords|
|Direction and control |
of Admiralty and Naval affairs
|Boards and offices under|
the First Lord
War and Naval Staff
|Secretariat and staff under|
the First Sea Lord
|Operational planning, policy|
strategy, tactical doctrine
|Divisions and sections|
under the War and
|Offices of the Sea Lords|
|Admiralty civil departments|
under the Sea Lords
|Distribution of the Fleet|
|Direction of Naval Finance|
|Departments under the|
Parliamentary and Financial Secretary
|Direction of Naval Administration|
and the Admiralty Secretariat
|Branches and offices under the|
|Departments under the|