Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 7, Navy Board Officials 1660-1832. Originally published by University of London, London, 1978.
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At the Restoration the offices of the four Principal Officers of the Navy, the Treasurer, Controller, Surveyor and Clerk of the Acts, were re-established, and three Commissioners were appointed to act with them. These officials, known both singly and collectively as Principal Officers and Commissioners of the Navy, formed the Navy Board and were jointly responsible under the direction of the Lord High Admiral for the civil administration of the Navy. (fn. 1) Until 1796 the Board was normally composed in a similar way both of officials responsible for the conduct of specific areas of business and of officials with general duties. (fn. 2)
In 1660 two Clerks were allowed to each Principal Officer and Commissioner by the terms of their patents of appointment. The appointment of the Clerks rested with the Principal Officer and Commissioner who employed them. The Clerk of the Acts, whose duties included the taking of minutes and the keeping of records, effectively filled the position of Secretary. The domestic staff of the Board consisted of a Messenger, a Housekeeper and a Labourer. (fn. 3)Salaries payable by the Treasurer of the Navy were made available to all officials. (fn. 4)
In the years 1660-88 the arrangements made at the Restoration were put to the test, and in some areas found wanting. Until 1679 the department grew in size. Additional staff were employed and new offices were created largely as a result of the increase in business occasioned by the Second and Third Dutch Wars.
It rapidly became apparent that the diverse duties imposed upon the Controller were too much for one person to perform. An unsuccessful attempt was made in 1663 to appoint an Assistant to the Controller. (fn. 5)The appointment of two of the Extra Commissioners to the offices of Controller of Treasurer's Accounts and Controller of Victualling Accounts in 1667 relieved the Controller of two of his responsibilities. (fn. 6)In 1669 five Clerks of the Control, one of whom resided at the Navy Office and four of whom were stationed at Deptford, Chatham, Portsmouth and Woolwich, were appointed to assist the Controller in his duty of examining and balancing storekeepers' accounts. These officials were placed under the supervision of a Principal Officer and Commissioner with the title of Controller of Storekeepers' Accounts in 1671. (fn. 7)
A Counsel, empowered to employ a Solicitor, was first appointed in 1672. (fn. 8)The Clerkship of the Acts was held jointly from 1673. Two additional Clerks were allowed to the Clerk of the Acts in 1668 and from 1673 six Clerks were employed in the Office of the joint Clerks of the Acts. (fn. 9)The number of Extra Commissioners rose to three in 1662 and to four in 1664. No Extra Commissioners were employed in the period of peace 1668-72, but two or three were again employed 1672-9.
Various expedients were adopted to deal with the business arising from the examination of seamen's tickets. The Ticket Office was usually managed by one of the members of the Navy Board. Its management was taken out of the hands of the Controller in 1668 and entrusted to the Controller of Treasurer's Accounts. In 1672 he resigned and was replaced by one of the Extra Commissioners, Seymour. (fn. 10)In 1673 the distinct office of Manager of the Ticket Office was created for the duration of the Third Dutch War. (fn. 11)At the conclusion of hostilities the management of the Office was again placed in the hands of an Extra Commissioner, Haddock, who continued to carry out the duty after his appointment as Controller in 1682. (fn. 12)Until 1673 Clerks seconded from other duties were usually employed in the Office. In 1673 the Manager was empowered to employ two Clerks, and later in the year took on three more. In 1674 provision was made for a Chief Clerk at a salary of £80, and the two Clerks employed by Haddock as Extra Commissioner, to serve in the Office. (fn. 13)
The appointment of a Chief Clerk in the Ticket Office prompted a review of the salaries paid to the Chief Clerks in all the Offices under the Board's supervision. It is probable that from 1660 certain Clerks by reason of their previous experience in naval administration had served as Chief Clerks to the Principal Officers and Commissioners who employed them, but as all Clerks received a salary of £30 it is not possible to identify them from the Treasurer's Ledgers. Additional allowances were made available to individual Clerks of outstanding experience or ability before 1674, and the Clerks in receipt of these allowances have been identified as Chief Clerks to the Controller, the Clerk of the Acts and the Controller of Victualling Accounts. (fn. 14)In 1674 fixed salaries of £80 were made available to the two Chief Clerks to the joint Clerks of the Acts and to the Chief Clerks to the Controller, Surveyor, Controller of Treasurer's Accounts and Controller of Victualling Accounts. (fn. 15)
The period of growth was halted by the reconstructed Admiralty Commission appointed in 1679. As one of their first acts the Commissioners appointed Hayter, the joint Clerk of the Acts, their Secretary, and provided no replacement for him at the Navy Board. On 29 December 1679 they ordered severe retrenchments in naval expenditure. (fn. 16)The office of Controller of Treasurer's Accounts was abolished, and its duties reverted to the Controller who was allowed only two Chief Clerks and two Clerks to assist him. The duty of controlling the storekeepers' accounts, which since the removal of the Controller of Storekeepers' Accounts in 1676 had 'not been taken care of as it should have been' was entrusted to the Controller of Victualling Accounts. The Clerks of the Control were discharged, and the Controller of Victualling and Storekeepers' Accounts was allowed to employ only two Chief Clerks and two Clerks. Two of the Extra Commissioners then in office were dismissed and the offices of Counsel and Solicitor were discontinued.
Several of these economies were rapidly undermined. In April 1680 it was found necessary to revive the office of Controller of Storekeepers' Accounts and to separate it from that of Controller of Victualling Accounts. From 1682 a Chief Clerk and four other Clerks were regularly employed in the Office for Examining Storekeepers' Accounts. (fn. 17)An Assistant Clerk of the Acts at a salary of £200 was employed in the years 1680-1. (fn. 18)In 1682 the sole remaining Extra Commissioner, Haddock, was appointed Controller and not replaced. The displaced Controller, Hayter, was appointed to the new office of Assistant Controller with duties similar to those performed by the former Controller of Treasurer's Accounts at a salary of £400. (fn. 19)The offices of Counsel and Solicitor were revived in 1685. (fn. 20)
The policy of retrenchment produced a decline in efficiency and morale in all branches of naval administration, and in 1686 the King and his Admiralty Secretary, Pepys, were compelled to take special measures to remedy the declining condition of the fleet and to deal with the arrears of business which had accrued. Five special Commissioners, to whom no particular individual duties were assigned, were appointed for a period of three years to conduct the current business of the Navy at an annual expenditure of £400,000. They were empowered to appoint a Secretary and a staff of Clerks and to fix their salaries, provided that their total remuneration did not exceed the amount hitherto paid to the Navy Board's officials. The Controller, Surveyor and Clerk of the Acts were retained as separate Commissioners to bring up the arrears of old accounts. (fn. 21)The Assistant Controller became Assistant to the Commissioners for Old Accounts, who also employed six Clerks from the establishment of the discontinued Board. (fn. 22)
The radical measures taken in 1686 did not involve an equally radical change in personnel. Of the five Commissioners for Current Business only Berry had no previous experience in the Navy Office. Narbrough was transferred to the Commission from the office of Controller of Victualling Accounts; Deane had previously served as Controller of both Victualling and Storekeepers' Accounts; Hewer had experience as a Clerk in the Navy Office and Admiralty; Godwin had served in the Office for Examining Victualling Accounts and was Commissioner resident at Chatham 1679-86. (fn. 23)Wherever possible the Commissioners drew their staff from the Clerks employed by the Board in 1686 and retained the existing structure of the Office. (fn. 24)The only major changes made were as follows. Sergison, one of the Chief Clerks to the Clerk of the Acts became Secretary at a salary of £300. Samuel Pett, who had left the Navy Office for the Admiralty in 1679 was recalled as a Chief Clerk in the former Controller's Office. Gibson, formerly Chief Clerk to the Controller became Chief Clerk for Examining Victualling Accounts. Lyddell, formerly a Clerk in the Controller's Office was promoted to the Chief Clerkship of the Ticket Office. Two officials without previous experience in the Navy Office were appointed to keep the accounts of the 'Proposition' by which the Commission governed its expenditure. Personal Clerks were allowed to each of the Commissioners.
In August 1688 the Commissioners for Current Business reported that their work was almost complete, and in October 1688 the Commission was dissolved. Two of the Commissioners, Deane and Hewer, were retained without salaries until May 1689 to wind up the business of the Commission, and were allowed to retain four of their Clerks for this purpose. (fn. 25)The former Controller, Surveyor and Clerk of the Acts were restored to their positions and two of the Commissioners for Current Business were appointed to the revived offices of Controller of Victualling Accounts and Controller of Storekeepers' Accounts. (fn. 26)The Secretary employed by the Commission remained in office as Secretary to the Board, and as in 1686 the re-organisation was effected with the minimum of disturbance to the clerical staff. (fn. 27)Between October 1688 and June 1689 the Clerks employed by the Commissioners for Old Accounts returned to the Offices from which they had been drawn. (fn. 28)
The structure of the Board as re-established in 1688 was retained after the Revolution and was both consolidated and extended in the continuous period of war which followed. In the years 1689-92 several new offices were created and several old ones revived which thereafter became regular features of the establishment. In 1689 an Assistant Controller, an Assistant Surveyor and an Assistant Clerk of the Acts were appointed at salaries of £300 to provide aid for the three senior and most hard worked members of the Board. (fn. 29)The office of Controller of Treasurer's Accounts was revived in 1691. (fn. 30)As the Controller was now relieved of the duty of controlling the Treasurer's accounts, the office of Assistant Controller was discontinued, and its holder appointed Assistant Controller of Victualling Accounts. (fn. 31)In May 1692 the management of the Ticket Office was taken out of the hands of the Controller and entrusted to the Controller of Treasurer's Accounts. (fn. 32)Extra Commissioners were again employed from 1692.
By 1692 the period of experiment and innovation was over. Thereafter the size of the department fluctuated considerably according to whether conditions of peace or war prevailed, but its basic structure was left undisturbed until 1796. A short survey of the principles which governed its organisation may therefore be appropriate at this point.
The Controller, the Surveyor, the Clerk of the Acts and the Controllers of Treasurer's, Victualling and Storekeepers' Accounts formed the core of the Board and were individually responsible for the supervision of the business in the eight Offices into which the Navy Office was divided for administrative purposes. The Controller was normally the senior naval officer represented on the Board. (fn. 33)Although all Principal Officers and Commissioners were theoretically of equal standing, received the same salaries and had equal voices at the Board, the Controller by virtue of his status as a naval officer and because of the variety of business which he conducted, tended to exercise an ascendancy over his colleagues. Individual personality and competence played a part in the process, and a weak or aged Controller could be dominated. (fn. 34)But from the middle of the eighteenth century when the Controller became the only member of the Board permitted to sit in the House of Commons, his ascendancy became more marked.
The Surveyorship was held throughout the period by shipwrights, promoted either from the position of Master Shipwright in one of the royal dockyards or from the Assistant Surveyorship. The office was held jointly 1706-14, 1746-9, 1755-71, 1778-86, 1793-6. Until 1771 an Assistant was normally appointed only when the senior office was held singly. In 1771 two new posts of First Assistant and Second Assistant Surveyor were created. (fn. 35)The Assistant Surveyorship was always held by shipwrights and was not an office to which Navy Office Clerks could expect promotion.
The Clerkship of the Acts was always held by civilians. In 1689 the office of Secretary was converted into that of Assistant Clerk of the Acts and from then until 1789 was held by officials who had risen from Navy Board Clerkships. Throughout the period the terms 'Assistant Clerk of the Acts' and 'Secretary' were used indiscriminately by contemporaries, and it is clear that the secretarial duties performed by the Clerks of the Acts 1660-86 devolved increasingly upon their Assistants in the course of the eighteenth century.
The Controllerships of Treasurer's, Victualling and Storekeepers' Accounts were all held for the greater part of the eighteenth century by civilians. With the exceptions of Saunders 1729-34 and Purvis 1735-41, the Controller of Treasurer's Accounts was always a civilian. Before 1705 six naval officers and two civilians had held the office of Controller of Victualling Accounts. After 1705 naval officers held the office for only brief periods. (fn. 36)The office of Assistant Controller of Victualling Accounts created in 1691 was abolished in 1731 following the transfer from the Navy Board to the Victualling Office of the duty of examining and passing pursers' accounts. (fn. 37)Both holders of the office, Colby and Prescott, had served prior to their appointment as Clerks in the Office for Examining Victualling Accounts. Before 1686 the Controllers of Storekeepers' Accounts had been civilians; in the years 1688-1732 the office was usually held by naval officers and thereafter again by civilians. (fn. 38)On two occasions the Controller of Storekeepers' Accounts resided abroad: at Cadiz 1694-7 and at Lisbon 1708-10.
Extra Commissioners were employed in large numbers until 1714 and used more sparingly thereafter. More than half of those appointed after 1692 were naval officers, and in the eighteenth century they were frequently the only colleagues upon whom the Controller could call for professional assistance. On various occasions Extra Commissioners and the Controllers of Storekeepers' and Victualling Accounts were employed on tasks outside the immediate province of the Navy Office: as Commissioners of the Registry Office, as Commissioners for Sick and Wounded Seamen 1698-1702 and 1717-40, and to manage transport business 1717-24. (fn. 39)
With the exception of Extra Commissioners, who were taken on and dismissed as levels of business rose and fell, the Principal Officers and Commissioners enjoyed a relatively secure tenure. Dismissal was rare (fn. 40)and pensions payable by the Treasurer of the Navy were made available in cases of old age or infirmity following long service. (fn. 41)In 1742 all Navy Board officials but the Controller were disqualified by act of Parliament from membership of the House of Commons. (fn. 42)Before 1747, when the act came into operation, Controllers had very rarely been members of the Commons. (fn. 43)After 1747 only four were not members for some part of the time they held office. (fn. 44)The Controllership however did not become a political office and Controllers were not normally removed following a change of Ministry. (fn. 45)
In 1698 the offices of the three Assistants employed by the Principal Officers and Commissioners were summarily discontinued as a result of the decision to retrench naval expenditure. Following protests from the Navy Board they were re-established in 1699. (fn. 46)Thenceforward the Assistants enjoyed secure tenure and remained in office until death, promotion, resignation or retirement. In the latter event a pension was customarily provided. (fn. 47)
The great majority of the Navy Board's Clerks were employed in one of eight Offices: the Offices for Bills and Accounts and for Seamen's Wages, over which the Controller presided; the Surveyor's Office; the Clerk of the Acts Office; the Office for Examining Treasurer's Accounts and the Ticket Office, managed by the Controller of Treasurer's Accounts; the Office for Examining Victualling Accounts; and the Office for Examining Storekeepers' Accounts. Each Extra Commissioner was allowed two Clerks who were normally attached to one of these Offices or employed on tasks to which the Extra Commissioner was specifically directed. From 1695 a Petition Clerk, loosely attached to the Office of the Clerk of the Acts, was employed to prepare petitions from seamen for the Board's consideration. The numbers and the salaries of the Clerks are discussed at length in the introductory notes which precede the lists of their appointments and only a few general principles need to be stated here. Although the size of the clerical establishment was subject to Admiralty control, the appointment of Clerks rested entirely with the Principal Officers and Commissioners in whose Offices they were employed. With the exception of the Ticket Office, in which from 1694 two Chief Clerks were employed, the business of each Office was conducted by a Chief Clerk. On only two occasions in the years 1688-1796 were Chief Clerks appointed without having gained any previous experience as Clerks in the Navy Office. Promotions to Chief Clerkships, however, were not governed by any fixed principle: seniority, ability and occasionally personal connexion with the Principal Officer and Commissioner making the appointment all played their part. The majority of Chief Clerks and Clerks spent their entire careers in one Office, although there was a fairly frequent interchange of Clerks between the Offices for Bills and Accounts and for Seamen's Wages and between the Office for Examining Treasurer's Accounts and the Ticket Office. Statements regarding the Clerks' security of tenure have to be made with caution. The precedents established in 1686 and 1688, when complete re-organisations of the Board were effected with little disturbance to the clerical staff, greatly increased the Clerks' security from arbitrary dismissal. After this time most Principal Officers and Commissioners on entering office were content to retain the Clerks employed by their predecessors and to introduce their own nominees only as natural vacancies arose or as new Clerkships were created. But because of considerable fluctuations in the levels of business coming before the Board, varying numbers of Clerks were employed, and until 1796 the number of Clerks to serve the needs of each Office in peace or war was never fixed. All Clerks were to a greater or lesser degree liable to be discharged as levels of business fell in times of peace. Contemporaries clearly regarded some Clerks as extra to normal requirements, whose status was more temporary. But as all Clerks received salaries in the same manner from the Treasurer of the Navy it has not proved possible to distinguish such extra or temporary Clerks satisfactorily from the others.
Until the last quarter of the eighteenth century Clerks could aspire to a seat on the Board. Between 1660 and 1773 seventeen officials who had started their careers as Clerks in the Navy Office attained the rank of Principal Officer and Commissioner of the Navy, usually after an intervening period of service in the Admiralty, one of the royal dockyards or one of the subordinate naval boards. (fn. 48)After 1773 no such appointments were made and the Secretaryship became the highest office which a Clerk could reasonably expect to attain.
An increase in the number of Clerks was the normal expedient employed after 1692 to combat rises in the levels of business coming before the Board. In the periods of war 1689-97 and 1702-13 all Offices grew substantially in size. The retrenchment demanded by the Admiralty in 1698-a return to the establishment of 1691-was resisted by the Navy Board and never fully implemented. (fn. 49)Between 1714 and 1740, and particularly after 1725, the number of Clerks employed was greatly reduced. But from 1740 until the end of the American War the increases that were made in periods of war were never completely reversed in periods of peace. Growth was most marked in the Offices for Bills and Accounts and for Seamen's Wages, in the Ticket Office and in the Clerk of the Acts Office, all of which more than doubled in size during this period.
The growth in business reached its height during the American War when in addition to its traditional functions the Board provided transports for army provisions on behalf of the Treasury. (fn. 50)By the end of the war it had become clear that such increases in business could no longer be accommodated within its existing structure. The first re-appraisal of the Board's organisation for a century fell to the Commissioners on Fees who investigated the Navy Office, taking evidence from one hundred and eleven of its officials, in the years 1786-7. (fn. 51)
After reviewing the organisation of the Office and its historical development, the Commissioners concluded that despite the great increase in business the duties of its officials had changed very little since the Restoration. They noted that in general the whole time of the Commissioners was occupied in attendance at the Board rather than in the supervision of the Offices under their control, and strongly deprecated the fact that 'several parts of the personal services allotted to the Commissioners are now unavoidably left to Clerks; amongst others, the strict investigation and examination of accounts'. They also noted that the variety and importance of the business coming before the Board required 'a general superintending and directing power to be lodged somewhere for the more regular and better conducting the whole'.
The Commissioners therefore recommended that the Board be reconstituted. Ten Commissioners should conduct the business of the Office in peace and war. The first and second Commissioners, the Controller and Deputy Controller, should be naval officers, the third, the Surveyor, a shipwright officer, the fourth to seventh 'gentlemen intelligent in the civil department of the business, or in accounts', and the eighth to tenth naval officers. Instead of presiding over distinct departments of the Office, the Commissioners should be formed into three Committees, of Correspondence, Accounts and Stores 'amongst whom [sic] the business should be so divided as to have competent officers of each branch, with time and opportunity to examine, digest, and conduct the part allotted to each Committee, subject however ultimately to the opinion of the Board at large'. The Controller, who was to supply the 'general superintending and directing power' was to preside at the Board and at every Committee. The Committee of Correspondence was to be composed of the Deputy Controller, the Surveyor and one civilian; the Committee of Accounts of one naval officer and two civilians; and the Committee for Stores of two naval officers and one civilian. (fn. 52)
The Commissioners next turned their attention to the secretarial and clerical assistance needed under this arrangement of business. They deemed the separation of the office of Secretary from that of Clerk of the Acts 'absolutely necessary', and recommended that the office of Assistant Clerk of the Acts should be converted into that of Secretary, who should attend the Board and the Committee of Correspondence. Only minor re-organisation of the clerical staff would be needed: the Clerks to the Clerk of the Acts would naturally become Clerks in the Secretary's Office; the Chief and four other Clerks from the Surveyor's Office should be formed into an Office for Stores; and the Office for Examining Victualling Accounts should be annexed to the Office for Examining Treasurer's Accounts. The Chief Clerk in the Secretary's Office should act as Deputy Secretary and assist the Secretary in his attendance on the Committee of Correspondence. The Chief Clerks in the Office for Bills and Accounts and in the Office for Stores should act as Secretaries to the Committees of Accounts and Stores. (fn. 53)
The Commissioners' report revealed in detail the extent to which the salaries of the Navy Board officials, and in particular of the senior Clerks, were supplemented by a variety of personal fees, gratuities and allowances. In 1784, for example, the Chief Clerk in the Office for Bills and Accounts received fees and gratuities totalling £1737, the Chief Clerk to the Clerk of the Acts £649, the Chief Clerk to the Surveyor £573, the Chief Clerk in the Ticket Office £416 and the Chief Clerk in the Office for Examining Treasurer's Accounts £369. (fn. 54)The Commissioners condemned the practice and proposed that all officials should receive fixed salaries which should replace all existing forms of remuneration. (fn. 55)They recommended that certain fees should continue to be paid and should be received by an official unconnected with any department of the Office, who should also act as Librarian and Paymaster of Contingencies. The fees thus collected would constitute a fund to be applied towards defraying the expenses of stationery and contingencies in the Navy Office and the dockyards. (fn. 56)The Commissioners also proposed that the practice of Principal Officers and Commissioners taking premiums on the appointment of Clerks should be totally abolished, (fn. 57)but conceded that the appointment of their Clerks should remain in the hands of the Principal Officers and Commissioners, who should nominate in rotation to vacant Clerkships. (fn. 58)
The Commissioners proposed fixed establishments of Clerks for each Office, and recommended that no additional Clerks should be appointed without the consent of the Admiralty. Clerks should be appointed in the first instance to the junior position on the establishment after which 'they should succeed to vacancies in superior seats, according to seniority, unless . . . found not qualified'. This provision the Commissioners believed would be a spur to industry and ability. (fn. 59)Officials obliged to retire on account of age or infirmity should receive pensions not exceeding half the amount of their salaries. (fn. 60)The Commissioners strongly deprecated the fact that officials could act as agents for other individuals and could have interests in the hiring of vessels for the public service and in the purchase and sale of naval supplies. To prevent these and other abuses, officials should subscribe to an oath of fidelity and enter into a bond to the amount of three times their salaries. (fn. 61)
The Commissioners' report was submitted to the Privy Council in 1788 and referred by the Council to the Admiralty in 1792. Eight years were to elapse before any decisive action was taken on the Commissioners' recommendations. In the meantime a number of changes occurred in the structure of the Board, influenced in part by the Commissioners' recommendations but more directly by the outbreak of war in 1793. In the years 1789-90 and 1795-6 an official with the title of Secretary replaced the Assistant Clerk of the Acts. (fn. 62)The office of Deputy Controller was created in 1793. (fn. 63)In the same year a salary increase of £30 was awarded to fifty-three of the junior Clerks who had submitted a memorial to the Board stating 'the incompetency of their salaries to enable them to support their situations in life'. (fn. 64)This was the first general salary increase granted to the Clerks since 1690. In 1794 a distinct Transport Board was created, and the allowances made available to the Principal Officers and Commissioners in 1779 for providing transports for army provisions ceased. As a result the salaries of the Principal Officers and Commissioners were increased, the Controller being awarded for the first time a higher salary than other members of the Board. (fn. 65)
In May 1796 the reforms suggested by the Commissioners on Fees were approved with only minor modifications by the Admiralty and were effected by order in council on 8 June 1796. (fn. 66)The reform was carried out by redeploying the existing staff of the Board, all but two of whom were retained. (fn. 67)The Board was now composed of ten members, the Controller at a salary of £1500, the Deputy Controller at £1200, two Surveyors at £1000, and six other Commissioners, five of whom were civilians, (fn. 68)at £1000. A Secretary, at a salary of £1000 attended the Board. (fn. 69)The business of the Office was placed under the supervision of three Committees, over all of which the Controller presided. The Committee of Correspondence was composed of the Deputy Controller, the senior Surveyor and the former Clerk of the Acts. The Secretary attended the Committee and three Offices were placed under its supervision. The Secretary's Office, formed from the Clerks who had previously served under the Clerk of the Acts, consisted of a Chief Clerk, who was also required to act as Deputy Secretary, at a salary of £700 and thirteen Clerks with salaries ranging from £300 to £80. (fn. 70)The Ticket Office consisted of a Chief Clerk at a salary of £600 and nineteen Clerks with salaries ranging from £400 to £80. The Surveyor's Office consisted of two Assistants at salaries of £400 and £250, a Chief Clerk at £300 and four Clerks with salaries ranging from £200 to £80. The Committee of Accounts was composed of the former Controllers of Treasurer's Accounts and of Victualling Accounts and the former Secretary and three Offices were placed under its supervision. The Office for Bills and Accounts consisted of a Chief Clerk at a salary of £800, who was required to act as Secretary to the Committee, and eighteen Clerks with salaries ranging from £500 to £80. The Office for Examining Treasurer's Accounts consisted of a Chief Clerk at a salary of £500 and eight Clerks (including the Chief Clerk and two Clerks from the suppressed Office for Examining Victualling Accounts) at salaries ranging from £250 to £80. The Office for Seamen's Wages consisted of a Chief Clerk at £500 and fourteen Clerks at salaries ranging from £300 to £80. The Committee for Stores was composed of the junior Surveyor, the former Controller of Storekeepers' Accounts and one naval officer, and two Offices were placed under its supervision. The Office for Stores, formed from Clerks who had previously served in the Surveyor's Office, consisted of a Chief Clerk at a salary of £700, who was also required to act as Secretary to the Committee, and five Clerks at salaries ranging from £300 to £80. (fn. 71)The Office for Examining Storekeepers' Accounts consisted of a Chief Clerk at a salary of £120 and eight Clerks all at salaries of £80. (fn. 72)The only entirely new office created was that of Receiver of Fees and Paymaster of Contingencies at a salary of £300, who was required to deposit a security of £3000 for the proper performance of his duties. (fn. 73)As the establishment of Clerks in each Office was now fixed, Temporary Clerks at weekly allowances were employed to deal with increases in business. (fn. 74)
Minor alterations were subsequently made to these arrangements. In 1795 statutory provisions had been made for seamen to allot part of their pay for the maintenance of their wives and families. (fn. 75)Between 1795 and 1797 various Navy Office Clerks were employed exclusively to supervise the implementation of these provisions and in 1797 a distinct Allotment Office was created consisting of a Chief Clerk at a salary of £400 and nine Clerks with salaries ranging from £250 to £80. (fn. 76)In 1801 the Controller's salary was increased to £2000. (fn. 77)A distinct Contract Office consisting of a Chief Clerk at £300 and an Assistant at £150 was created in 1803. (fn. 78)
The reform of 1796 was thoroughly scrutinised by the Commissioners for Revising and Digesting the Civil Affairs of the Navy appointed in 1805. (fn. 79)Their recommendations, based on the belief that the reform had 'fully answered the expectations which were formed of it' but was nevertheless 'still capable of further improvement', (fn. 80)were in general approved by the Admiralty and effected by order in council on 28 October 1807. (fn. 81)
The Commissioners found that the Controller had been unable to preside at any Committee as frequently as could have been wished. They therefore recommended that the Deputy Controller in the Committee of Correspondence, and the first Commissioners in the Committees of Accounts and Stores should 'have the superintendence and direction of the business transacted' in those Committees. The first Commissioner in the Committee of Accounts should be 'a civil member well versed in accounts' and in the Committee of Stores a naval officer. The Controller retained 'the general superintendence of every branch of the Navy Office' and 'in cases of importance or complication' the Committees were recommended to seek his advice. (fn. 82)The Commissioners proposed that two members be added to the Board. One should be a naval officer who should supervise the payment of wages to seamen at the Pay Office, to the crews of ships in the Thames, and to the officers of Deptford and Woolwich Yards. (fn. 83)The other should be the former Inspector General of Naval Works who should be given the title of Civil Architect and Engineer and rank after the Junior Surveyor. The Commissioners also recommended that the Architect and Engineer, the Mechanist, the Secretary, two Clerks and the Draftsmen from the abolished Naval Works Department should be transferred to the Board. (fn. 84)These recommendations were all accepted and were implemented in December 1808, (fn. 85)but proposals that the salaries of the Principal Officers and Commissioners should be increased to reflect the increase in Office business and the increase in the cost of living since 1796 were rejected. (fn. 86)
The decision to transfer the Inspector General of Naval Works to the Navy Board proved unsuccessful and the office of Civil Architect and Engineer was abolished in 1812. (fn. 87)In 1813 a third Surveyor was appointed. The three Surveyors were when necessary to form a Committee to which 'all questions relating to civil and naval architecture, mechanic and other branches of science, or to the general economy, system and arrangement of the dockyards' were to be referred. The first and second Surveyors were to perform the duties previously undertaken by the joint Surveyors. The third Surveyor was to visit and superintend the dockyards and to introduce 'one settled and uniform system of labour, arrangement and economy throughout the naval arsenals of this country'. (fn. 88)The office of Pay Commissioner was discontinued in 1814. (fn. 89)
The secretarial arrangements made in 1796 were found by the Commissioners of Naval Revision to have been inadequate. The Chief Clerk in the Secretary's Office had been unable to afford the Secretary any assistance whatever, and the duty of attending the Committee of Correspondence had been performed by the Secretary, with the assistance of a junior Clerk in his Office. The combination of the duties of Chief Clerk in the Office for Bills and Accounts and Secretary to the Committee of Accounts had been found too much for one person to perform and the duty of attending the Committee had fallen to one of the junior Clerks in his Office. Although Derrick had been able to carry out his duties as Chief Clerk in the Office for Stores and Secretary to the Committee for Stores 'completely' he confessed that he devoted more time to his work than the usual office hours. In 1807 therefore three distinct offices of Assistant Secretary, Secretary to the Committee of Accounts and Secretary to the Committee for Stores were created with salaries of £800. (fn. 90)The Commissioners' recommendation that the salary of the Secretary should be increased to £1400 was rejected, although it was accepted that his remuneration should be greater than that of the junior members of the Board, and his salary was increased to £1200. (fn. 91)
The Commissioners suggested several alterations to the clerical establishment, all of which were accepted. The business of the Secretary's Office had nearly doubled since 1796 and twelve Temporary Clerks were in employment in 1806. They therefore proposed that the number of established Clerks be increased to eighteen and that the duties of the Chief Clerk be divided between a First Chief Clerk, who would superintend the correspondence of the Board and of the Committee of Correspondence, and a Second Chief Clerk, who would superintend the correspondence of the Committees of Accounts and Stores. (fn. 92)Ten Temporary Clerks were also in employment in the Ticket Office, but the Commissioners recommended no increase in the number of established Clerks as the business of the Office would be reduced in peace time. They did, however, recommend that the duties of the Chief Clerk should be divided between a First and a Second Chief Clerk, as had been the custom before 1796. (fn. 93)The Commissioners noted that many accounts remained uncleared, and on the advice of the Navy Board recommended that a distinct Office for Foreign Accounts be created with a Chief Clerk and six Clerks. As four of these Clerks would be transferred from the Office for Bills and Accounts, the number of Clerks in that Office could be reduced from eighteen to fourteen. (fn. 94)The Commissioners also recommended a reduction of one Clerk in the Office for Examining Treasurer's Accounts. (fn. 95)To deal with any further increases in business the Commissioners proposed that Temporary Clerks be employed, and recommended that the most able and deserving of them should be given preference when vacancies on the establishment arose. (fn. 96)
The major defect of the reform of 1796 proved to be the inadequacy of the salaries made available to the Clerks. On four occasions between 1800 and 1805 the Board presented to the Admiralty petitions from their Clerks embodying their grievances. (fn. 97)Reviewing these petitions, the Commissioners of Naval Revision commented: 'Owing to the limited prospects before them, many able Clerks have quitted the Office, and others, of the same character have only been deterred from following their example by the hope that their reiterated representations would ultimately meet with attention. Their requests are urged with so much justice that we consider it proper to recommend that Government should, as far as circumstances will allow, pay the same attention to them as they have shown to similar representations . . . from the Clerks in almost every other department of the State'. (fn. 98)The increases in salaries proposed by the Navy Board in 1805 and in general approved by the Commissioners of Naval Revision were adopted in 1807. (fn. 99)The allowance made to the Private Secretary to the Controller, which had stood at £20 since 1794, was increased to £100, and an allowance of £50 was made available to the Reading Clerk. (fn. 100)Greater flexibility was introduced into the system of superannuation established in 1796. Clerks retiring by reason of old age or infirmity were allowed pensions of up to one third the amount of their salaries after ten to fifteen years service, of up to one half after fifteen to twenty-five years service, of up to two thirds after twenty-five to thirty-five years service and of up to three quarters after thirty-five years service. Clerks discharged by reason of incapacity were allowed a pension of up to one quarter the amount of their salaries after fifteen to twenty-five years service, of up to one third after twenty-five to thirty-five years service and of up to one half after thirty-five years service. (fn. 101)Certain regulations made in 1807, however, did not work to the benefit of the Clerks. Allowances of seven shillings per evening paid since 1796 to junior Clerks who attended beyond normal office hours were discontinued. (fn. 102)To help defray the expense of increasing their salaries, Clerks were required to pay a fee of five per cent of their salaries on appointment, and of five per cent of the amount of the increase in their salaries on promotion. (fn. 103)Junior Clerks were required to serve for three years before receiving a salary greater than £80. (fn. 104)
In 1811 a further attempt was made to resolve the problem of the low salaries paid to the inferior Clerks. In an effort to keep 'young men of abilities' in the Office minimum salaries of £90 after two years service, £100 after four years service, £120 after six years service, £140 after eight years service, £160 after ten years service and £200 after twelve years service, were accorded to the junior Clerks. (fn. 105)
Paradoxically it was not until the end of the war in 1816 that the Admiralty carried out a major reorganisation of the clerical salary structure. (fn. 106)In adopting this reform the Admiralty claimed to have been guided by three principles: of introducing 'uniformity' in the salaries of those performing similar duties; of ensuring that salaries 'should be really proportioned . . . to the responsibility and weight of the duties which are to be performed'; and of rewarding long and faithful service. To effect these principles the Clerks were divided into classes to which salary scales with regular annual increments of £10 were attached. The grade of first class clerk was reserved for the fourteen Chief Clerks serving in the Navy Office and was divided into two sections. The Chief Clerks of the Secretary's Office, the Ticket Office, the Office for Bills and Accounts, the Office for Seamen's Wages and the Office for Stores were placed in the first section with a minimum salary of £650 and a maximum of £800. The remainder were placed in a second section with a minimum of £500 and a maximum of £650. Provision was made for twenty-eight second class Clerks with a minimum of £300 and a maximum of £500 and for eighty-four third class Clerks with a minimum of £100 and a maximum of £300. (fn. 107)It was hoped that the marked increases in the salaries of the inferior Clerks would make promotion by seniority unnecessary, and it was laid down in the order in council authorising the new scales that promotion from a lower class to a higher 'shall be the reward of qualification for the duties of the higher class, without any reference whatsoever to the seniority the person may hold in the lower class'.
In 1807 on the recommendation of the Commissioners of Naval Revision, the three Draftsmen to the Surveyors, who had previously been borne as Quartermen in one of the royal dockyards and paid a daily allowance for their attendance at the Navy Office, were placed on the establishment of the Navy Board at a salary of £250. (fn. 108)In 1816 the salaries of the Draftsmen and of other officials on fixed salaries, the Assistant Surveyor, the Receiver of Fees, the Surveyor of Buildings and his Draftsmen, were increased. (fn. 109)
In the years following the end of the war, however, the Navy Board, in common with other service departments, was forced to give serious attention to the question of cutting down the cost of its staff. No reduction was made in the number of Principal Officers and Commissioners until 1822. In 1816 the office of Deputy Controller was left vacant and a seventh Commissioner was added to the Board. (fn. 110)In 1817 following the abolition of the Transport Board some of its functions were transferred to the Navy Board and a fourth Committee was created to deal with transport business. (fn. 111)In 1822 the membership of the Board was reduced to nine by the reduction of one of the three Surveyors and one of the seven Commissioners. (fn. 112)Following criticism from the Select Committee on Income and Expenditure the position of the Secretaries attending the Committees was reviewed. In 1819 it was provided that the officials should forthwith be styled Assistant Secretaries and that future holders of the offices should receive the salary of a first class (first section) clerk rather than a fixed salary of £800. In 1822 the salary for future holders was again reduced to that of a first class (second section) clerk. (fn. 113)Following the death of the Secretary in 1820 the Assistant Secretary was promoted to the Secretaryship and the office of Assistant Secretary was discontinued. (fn. 114)The office of Second Assistant Surveyor was left vacant in 1816 and that of First Assistant Surveyor in 1823.
When proposing the reform of the clerical salary structure in 1816, the Admiralty made no recommendations for a reduction in the number of established Clerks since it recognised that the first years of peace created additional labour for the Board and that the extra burden imposed by the war had been largely carried by Temporary Clerks. (fn. 115)In 1817 the great majority of Temporary Clerks still in employment were discharged. They were allowed a gratuity of six months salary and were given preference according to length of service when vacancies on the establishment arose. (fn. 116)In 1822 the policy of retrenchment was extended to include the established Clerks. (fn. 117)The number of Chief Clerks was reduced to four in the first section of the first class, and to four in the second section of the first class. The number of Clerks was reduced to twenty-four in the second class and to seventy-one in the third class. To accommodate this reduced number of Clerks the Offices for Examining Treasurer's Accounts and Storekeepers' Accounts and the Allotment Office were abolished and their functions distributed among the remaining Offices. The minimum salary of the first class (first section) clerks was reduced to £600 and the minimum of the third class clerks to £90, at which level they were required to continue for three years.
In 1829 the Admiralty introduced a comprehensive reform of the Navy Board's structure. (fn. 118)Although claiming that their scheme did not depart 'in any material degree' from the principles established in successive orders in council promulgated since 1796, the Committee system was abandoned, and a form of government similar to that which had operated before 1796 was restored. The Board was now composed of seven members who were to meet together every morning for the dispatch of general business. A Controller, who retained his predominant position, and a Deputy Controller, took over the duties of the Committee of Correspondence; an Accountant General the duties of the Committee of Accounts; a Storekeeper General the duties of the Committee for Stores; and a Superintendent of Transports the duties of the Committee of Transports. Two Surveyors continued to sit at the Board. (fn. 119)No alteration was made to the position of the Secretary, but the offices of the Assistant Secretaries attending the Committees were naturally discontinued. (fn. 120)The number of Offices was reduced to six: a Secretary's Office, an Office for Bills and Accounts, a Ticket and Wages Branch, an Office for Stores, a Surveyor's Office and a Contract Office. Both a first class (first section) and a first class (second section) Clerk served in the first four of these Offices, and a first class (second section) Clerk only in the Surveyor's Office and the Contract Office. The number of second class Clerks was fixed at twenty-one and the number of third class Clerks at sixty-one. (fn. 121)Allowances were made available to Private Secretaries to attend the Controller, Deputy Controller, the Surveyors, the Accountant General and the Storekeeper General. (fn. 122)
Further economies were made in the years 1829-32, the most important of which were as follows. In 1831 the Board was reduced to five members when the Superintendent of Transports and one of the Surveyors were superannuated and not replaced. (fn. 123)The salary of the Deputy Controller, fixed at £1200 in 1829, was reduced to £1000 in 1831, (fn. 124)and from November 1831 the Controller, Dundas, who also held the office of Second Naval Lord of the Admiralty, served without salary. (fn. 125)The Transport Branch was broken up in the course of 1830 and ten of its Clerks were distributed amongst the Offices of the Navy Board. (fn. 126)The Surveyor's Office was gradually reduced to a Chief Clerk and one third class Clerk. (fn. 127)As a consequence of reductions in other branches of naval administration six additional third class Clerks were added to the Ticket and Wages Branch in 1829. (fn. 128)Following the abolition of the Marine Pay Department in 1831 a Clerk in that Department was transferred to the Navy Board with the title of Paymaster of Marines. (fn. 129)
The Whig government which took office in 1830 brought to a conclusion the policies of rationalisation and retrenchment pursued since the end of the war, and in June 1832 both the Navy and Victualling Boards were abolished. Their functions were transferred to five principal officers of the Navy, the Surveyor, the Accountant General, the Storekeeper General, the Controller of the Victualling and Transport Service and the Physician, whose activities were placed under the supervision of the Admiralty Board. (fn. 130)Almost all of the Navy Board's senior officials were superannuated. Of the five Principal Officers and Commissioners in office in 1832, only Dundas, the Deputy Controller, became one of the principal officers of the Navy. (fn. 131)The Secretary and seven of the ten Chief Clerks were superannuated. (fn. 132)Of the Clerks, fourteen were superannuated and the remainder were placed under the authority of the five principal officers.