Principal officers and commissioners

Sponsor

Institute of Historical Research

Publication

Author

J.M. Collinge

Year published

1978

Supporting documents

Pages

18-25

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'Principal officers and commissioners', Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 7: Navy Board Officials 1660-1832 (1978), pp. 18-25. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=16833 Date accessed: 30 July 2014.


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Principal Officers and Commissioners

Throughout the period 1660-1832 the members of the Navy Board were known both singly and collectively as Principal Officers and Commissioners of the Navy. (fn. 1) Until 1796 the Board was usually composed of officials of theoretically equal standing, some of whom supervised the conduct of specific areas of business, and some of whom, known as Extra Commissioners or Commissioners at Large, performed general duties. In 1660 the Board was composed of a Controller, a Surveyor, a Clerk of the Acts and two Extra Commissioners. (fn. 2) From then until 1686 its composition changed regularly and the number of its members fluctuated between five and ten. The Controller, Surveyor and Clerk of the Acts (fn. 3) were permanent members. In 1667 the offices of Controller of Treasurer's Accounts and Controller of Victualling Accounts were created to relieve the Controller of two of his duties, (fn. 4) and in 1671 a further reduction was made in his duties by the creation of the office of Controller of Storekeepers' Accounts. (fn. 5) In 1679 as a result of the decision to retrench naval expenditure the office of Controller of Treasurer's Accounts was abolished and its duties reverted to the Controller. (fn. 6) At the same time the Controller of Victualling Accounts was required to carry out the duties of the office of Controller of Storekeepers' Accounts which had been left vacant since 1676. This arrangement, however, proved unsatisfactory and in 1680 the office of Controller of Storekeepers' Accounts was revived. (fn. 7) From one to four Extra Commissioners were employed in the years 1660-8 and 1672-82. In the years 1668-72 and 1682-6 no Extra Commissioners were employed.

In 1686 temporary arrangements were made to remedy the declining condition of the fleet and to deal with the arrears of business which had accrued in all branches of naval administration. (fn. 8) 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. (fn. 9) The former Controller, Surveyor and Clerk of the Acts were retained as separate Commissioners to bring up the arrears of old accounts. In August 1688 the Commissioners for Current Business reported that their work was almost complete, and in October 1688 the special 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 to deal with the accounts incurred during its existence. (fn. 10)

In October 1688 the former Controller, Surveyor and Clerk of the Acts were restored to their positions and the offices of Controller of Victualling Accounts and Controller of Storekeepers' Accounts were re-established. (fn. 11) The office of Controller of Treasurer's Accounts was re-established in 1691. (fn. 12) From then until 1796 these six officials were permanent members of the Board. Two Clerks of the Acts served in the years 1702-6, and two Surveyors in the years 1706-14, 1746-9, 1755-71, 1778-86, 1793-6. Extra Commissioners were again employed from 1692. Until 1714 their number varied between two and six. In 1714 the number was reduced to one and, with the exception of the years 1787-93 when two Extra Commissioners were employed, remained at this level during periods of peace. In periods of war one or two additional Extra Commissioners were usually employed. Following the recommendations of the Commissioners on Fees the office of Deputy Controller was created in 1793. (fn. 13)

In 1796 the offices of Clerk of the Acts, Controller of Treasurer's Accounts, Controller of Victualling Accounts and Controller of Storekeepers' Accounts were abolished and the Board was reconstituted to consist of ten Principal Officers and Commissioners: a Controller, in whom was lodged 'a general superintending and directing power, for the regular management of the business, and controlling the expense in every branch of the Office', a Deputy Controller, two Surveyors and six Commissioners. The business of the Office was placed under the supervision of three Committees, of Correspondence, Accounts and Stores, over all of which the Controller presided. Three of the remaining nine Principal Officers and Commissioners were allotted to each Committee. (fn. 14) In 1808 the membership of the Board was increased to twelve by the addition of the former Inspector General of Naval Works with the title of Civil Architect and Engineer, and a seventh Commissioner, who supervised 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. The Controller was relieved of the chairmanship of all Committees and was replaced by the senior Commissioner in each Committee. (fn. 15) As the result of various changes made between 1812 and 1814 the number of Principal Officers and Commissioners was reduced to eleven. The office of Civil Architect and Engineer was abolished in 1812, (fn. 16) and that of Pay Commissioner discontinued in 1814. (fn. 17) A third Surveyor with special responsibility for the dockyards was added to the Board in 1813. (fn. 18) In 1816 the office of Deputy Controller was discontinued and a seventh Commissioner was added to the Board. (fn. 19) A fourth Committee was created in 1817 to conduct transport business following the abolition of the Transport Board. (fn. 20) The membership of the Board was reduced to nine in 1822 by the reduction of one Surveyor and one Commissioner. (fn. 21)

In 1829 the Committee system was abandoned, and the Board was again composed of specialist officers with individual responsibility for the work formerly supervised by the Committees. The number of Principal Officers and Commissioners was reduced from nine to seven: a Controller, who retained his predominant position, a Deputy Controller, two Surveyors, an Accountant General, a Storekeeper General, and a Superintendent of Transports. (fn. 22) In 1831 the Superintendent of Transports and one of the Surveyors were superannuated and not replaced, thus reducing the Board to five members, the lowest level since 1691. (fn. 23)

The Principal Officers and Commissioners were appointed during pleasure by letters patent under the great seal. On one occasion a reversionary interest was granted. (fn. 24) Until 1700 it was the normal practice for the issue of the letters patent to be preceded by the issue of an Admiralty warrant allowing the Principal Officer and Commissioner to act until his patent passed. Thereafter the letters patent were usually preceded by the issue of a warrant allowing the official to inspect books and papers in the Navy Office in order to qualify himself when his patent passed. In the lists the periods of office of the Principal Officers and Commissioners have usually been dated by reference to the letters patent. (fn. 25) However in some cases the duty of a Principal Officer and Commissioner was changed by Admiralty warrant and new letters patent were not issued to confirm the change of duty. In these cases the periods of office have been dated by reference to the warrant, when it has been traced, or to the day on which salary was first paid. (fn. 26)

In 1660 salaries of £500 were made available to the Controller and the Extra Commissioners, of £490 to the Surveyor and of £350 to the Clerk of the Acts. (fn. 27) The salaries of the Surveyor and of the Clerk of the Acts were increased to £500 from 1672 and 1682 respectively. (fn. 28) Thereafter the salaries of all Principal Officers and Commissioners remained at £500 until 1794. (fn. 29) In 1779 additional annual allowances of £300 were made available by the Treasury to all members of the Board to reward them for their labour in providing transports for army provisions. (fn. 30) On the creation of a distinct Transport Board in 1794, these allowances ceased and salaries were increased, the Controller receiving £1000 and all other Principal Officers and Commissioners £800. (fn. 31) In 1796 the salaries of the Controller and Deputy Controller were increased to £1500 and £1200 respectively, and those of all other Principal Officers and Commissioners to £1000. (fn. 32) The Controller's salary was further increased to £2000 in 1801. (fn. 33) In 1831 the salary of the Deputy Controller was reduced to £1000. (fn. 34) From 1831-2 Dundas, who also held the office of Second Naval Lord of the Admiralty, served as Controller without salary. (fn. 35)

CONTROLLER 1660-1832
1660 31 Aug. Slingsby, R.
1661 28 Nov. Mennes, Sir J.
1671 15 April Allin, Sir T.
1680 28 Jan. Hayter, T.
1682 2 Feb. Haddock, Sir R.
1688 12 Oct. Haddock, Sir R.
1715 16 March Wager, Sir C.
1718 23 April Swanton, T.
1723 9 Feb. Mighells, J.
1734 27 April Haddock, R.
1749 27 March Mostyn, S.
1755 28 Feb. Falkingham, E.
1755 25 Nov. Saunders, C.
1756 24 June Dent, D.
1756 29 Dec. Cockburne, G.
1770 6 Aug. Palliser, H.
1775 12 April Suckling, M.
1778 7 Aug. Middleton, C.
1790 29 March Martin, H.
1794 25 Sept. Hamond, Sir A. S.
1806 3 March Nicholls, H.
1806 20 June Thompson, Sir T. B.
1816 24 Feb. Martin, Sir T. B.
1831 2 Nov. Dundas, Hon. G. H. L.
DEPUTY CONTROLLER 1793-1832
1793 11 Feb. Le Cras, E.
1794 7 March Hamond, Sir A. S.
1794 25 Sept. Marshall, Sir S.
1795 21 Oct. Hope, C.
1801 21 Jan. Duncan, H.
1806 20 June Barlow, Sir R.
1808 3 Dec. Hartwell, Sir F. J.
1814 22 Aug. Shield, W.
1829 4 May Legge, Hon. H.
1830 21 Oct. Dundas, Hon. R.
SURVEYORS 1660-1832
1660 20 June Batten, Sir W.
1667 25 Nov. Middleton, T.
1672 5 Sept. Tippetts, J.
1688 12 Oct. Tippetts, Sir J.
1692 9 Aug. Dummer, E.
1699 22 Sept. Furzer, D.
1706 19 Oct. Furzer, D.
Lee, W.
1714 16 Nov. Furzer, D.
1715 6 April Acworth, J.
1745 11 July Acworth, Sir J.
Allin, J.
1749 16 March Allin, J.
1755 4 Sept. Slade, T.
Bately, W.
1765 28 June Slade, T.
Williams, J.
1771 22 Feb. Williams, J.
1778 11 April Williams, Sir J.
Hunt, E.
1784 13 Dec. Hunt, E.
Henslow, J.
1786 7 Dec. Henslow, J.
1793 11 Feb. Henslow, J.
Rule, W.
1806 20 June Rule, Sir W.
Peake, H.
1813 14 June Tucker, J.
Seppings, R.
1822 20 Feb. Tucker, J.
Seppings, Sir R.
1831 1 March Seppings, Sir R.
CLERKS OF THE ACTS 1660-1796
1660 13 July Pepys, S.
1673 19 June Hayter, T.
Pepys, J.
1677 14 April Hayter, T.
Sotherne, J.
1679 May Sotherne, J.
1688 12 Oct. Sotherne, J.
1690 6 Feb. Sergison, C.
1702 11 Feb. Sergison, C.
Atkins, S.
1706 25 Aug. Sergison, C.
1719 21 May Holmes, T.
1726 11 Oct. Pearse, T.
1743 15 April Clevland, J.
1746 16 Aug. Osborn, R.
1747 27 July Devert, D.
1761 3 Feb. Brett, T.
1761 20 March Mason, E.
1773 16 July Marsh, G.
EXTRA COMMISSIONERS 1660-1796
1660 4 July Berkeley of Stratton, Lord
1660 4 July Penn, Sir W.
1662 14 May Coventry, Hon. W.
1664 7 Dec. Brouncker, Viscount
1665 20 Jan. Harvey, Sir T.
1672 30 Aug. Seymour, E.
1672 c. Nov. Harman, Sir J.
1673 7 July Werden, Sir J.
1673 18 Aug. Haddock, R.
1675 26 Nov. Chicheley, Sir J.
1692 22 Jan. Rooke, G.
1692 27 Jan. Hill, J.
1693 27 April Shovell, Sir C.
1693 28 Sept. St. Lo, G.
1694 22 April Aylmer, M.
1695 6 May Sotherne, J.
1696 21 May Timewell, B.
1702 11 Feb. Tollett, G.
1702 17 July Hammond, A.
1702 17 Dec. Hopson, Sir T.
1706 23 Feb. Gifford, Sir W.
1712 17 July Hunter, S.
1713 15 April Townsend, I.
1713 9 May Wright, L.
1714 16 Nov. Fawler, J.
1717 23 Dec. Colby, T.
1728 18 Jan. Saunders, Sir G.
1729 19 May Townsend, Sir I.
1731 16 June Byng, Hon. R.
1732 24 May Beauclerk, Lord V.
1738 2 June Crowle, G.
1741 21 March Gashry, F.
1743 15 April Compton, J.
1743 15 April Geddes, A.
1745 25 Jan. Oswald, J.
1746 13 June Falkingham, E.
1747 27 July Russell, J.
1755 28 Feb. Cooper, T.
1755 25 Nov. Scott, A.
1756 3 April Dent, D.
1756 14 June Bateman, Hon. W.
1756 24 June Cockburne, G.
1756 24 June Brett, T.
1756 29 Dec. Dent, D.
1761 3 Feb. Mason, E.
1761 20 March Temple, Sir R.
1761 20 March Bentley, Sir J.
1778 10 April Le Cras, E.
1780 28 Dec. Wallis, S.
1787 29 Oct. Wallis, S.
1793 11 Feb. Hamond, Sir A. S.
1793 4 Dec. Marshall, S.
1794 3 June Hope, C.
1794 25 Sept. Harmood, H.
CONTROLLER OF TREASURER'S ACCOUNTS 1667-1796
1667 16 Jan. Brouncker, Viscount
1691 1 May Lyddell, D.
1717 23 Dec. Burton, R.
1729 15 Jan. Saunders, Sir G.
1735 27 Feb. Purvis, G.
1741 21 March Phillipson, J.
1743 30 Dec. Corbett, W.
1753 1 Aug. Hall, R.
1761 20 March Brett, T.
1782 19 Oct. Rogers, G.
CONTROLLER OF VICTUALLING ACCOUNTS 1667-1796
1667 16 Jan. Penn, Sir W.
1669 17 June Smith, Sir J.
1675 25 Nov. Deane, Sir A.
1680 29 April Narbrough, Sir J.
1688 12 Oct. Berry, Sir J.
1690 3 May Beach, Sir R.
1693 14 March Pett, S.
1699 1 March Shovell, Sir C.
1705 4 Jan. Timewell, B.
1714 16 Nov. Burton, R.
1717 23 Dec. Fawler, J.
1744 7 June Gashry, F.
1747 27 July Osborn, R.
1771 22 July Proby, C.
1771 21 Dec. Hanway, T.
1772 28 Oct. Marsh, G.
1773 16 July Gambier, J.
1773 2 Sept. Palmer, W.
CONTROLLER OF STOREKEEPERS' ACCOUNTS 1671-1796
1671 23 June Ernle, Sir J.
1680 30 April Deane, Sir A.
1680 31 July Pett, P.
1688 12 Oct. Booth, Sir W.
1689 22 April Priestman, H.
1690 11 July Ashby, Sir J.
1693 26 June Wilshaw, T.
1702 27 Oct. Greenhill, H.
1705 2 Feb. Jennings, T.
1714 16 Nov. Cornwall, C.
1716 8 Aug. Swanton, T.
1718 23 April Clevland, W.
1732 24 May Byng, Hon. R.
1739 29 May Phillipson, J.
1741 21 March Crowle, G.
1752 18 March Hall, R.
1753 10 Nov. Adams, G.
1761 20 March Bateman, Hon. W.
1783 7 July Campbell, W.
1790 21 Jan. Bellingham, W.
COMMISSIONERS FOR CURRENT BUSINESS 1686-8
1686 17 April Deane, Sir A.
1686 17 April Narbrough, Sir J.
1686 17 April Berry, Sir J.
1686 17 April Godwin, Sir J.
1686 17 April Hewer, W.
1688 20 Feb. Booth, Sir W.
COMMISSIONERS FOR OLD ACCOUNTS 1686-8
1686 17 April Tippetts, Sir J.
1686 17 April Haddock, Sir R.
1686 17 April Sotherne, J.
COMMISSIONERS FOR EXAMINING ACCOUNTS (INCURRED 1686-8) 1688-9
1688 12 Oct. Deane, Sir A.
1688 12 Oct. Hewer, W.
COMMISSIONERS 1796-1829
1796 3 Aug. Marsh, G.
1796 3 Aug. Rogers, G.
1796 3 Aug. Palmer, W.
1796 3 Aug. Bellingham, Sir W.
1796 3 Aug. Harmood, H.
1796 3 Aug. Gambier, S.
1801 21 Jan. Hartwell, F. J.
1801 23 Nov. Tucker, B.
1803 27 Aug. Markham, O.
1804 21 April Legge, Hon. H.
1805 15 July Bouverie, Hon. E.
1805 15 July Thomson, J. D.
1806 20 June Hamilton, T.
1808 3 Dec. Middleton, R. G.
1808 3 Dec. Schomberg, I.
1813 12 Feb. Shield, W.
1813 14 June Stewart, Hon. E. R.
1813 21 Dec. Fraser, P.
1816 24 Feb. Bowen, J.
1819 8 Feb. Chetwynd Stapylton, Hon. G. A.
1823 3 July Boyle, Hon. C.
1825 23 Feb. Dundas, Hon. R.
1825 25 Aug. Lewis, J. M.
CIVIL ARCHITECT AND ENGINEER 1808-12
1808 3 Dec. Bentham, S.
ACCOUNTANT GENERAL 1829-32
1829 4 May Thomson, J. D.
STOREKEEPER GENERAL 1829-32
1829 4 May Middleton, R. G.
SUPERINTENDENT OF TRANSPORTS 1829-31
1829 4 May Boyle, Hon. C.

Footnotes

1 Although Principal Officers and Commissioners, the Treasurer of the Navy and the Commissioners of the Navy resident at the out-ports and at various dockyards and stations overseas, rarely attended the Board and have therefore been excluded from these lists.
2 Order in council 4 July 1660 (PC 2/54 ff. 54-5).
3 Two Clerks of the Acts served in the years 1673-9.
4 Order in council 16 Jan. 1667 (PC 2/59 pp. 270-1).
5 Letters patent to Sir John Ernle 23 June 1671 (C 66/3125).
6 Adm. 106/44 no. 563.
7 ibid; letters patent to Sir Anthony Deane 30 April 1680 (Adm. 106/2070 ff. 14-15).
8 Commission of 17 April 1686 (C 66/3284); Adm. 2/1741 pp. 278-94; Tanner, Catalogue, 66-97.
9 The number of Commissioners was effectively reduced to four in September 1687 when Narbrough sailed for the West Indies (Notes and Queries, 7th series, vi (July-Dec. 1888), 502). An additional Commissioner was appointed in February 1688; Godwin and Narbrough died in March and May 1688 and were not replaced.
10 Commission of 12 Oct. 1688 (C 66/3310).
11 ibid.
12 Letters patent to Dennis Lyddell 1 May 1691 (C 66/3341).
13 5th Rept. on Fees, 182; commission of 11 Feb. 1793 (C 66/3887).
14 Order in council 8 June 1796 (17th Rept. on Finance, 331-2).
15 Order in council 28 Oct. 1807 (4th Rept. Commrs. of Naval Revision, 13-16, 18-20); commission of 3 Dec. 1808 (C 66/4085); NMM Adm. A/3031, 6 Dec. 1808.
16 Order in council 28 Nov. 1812 (PC 2/194 pp. 67-70).
17 Commission of 22 Aug. 1814 (C 66/4153).
18 Order in council 3 June 1813 (PC 2/194 pp. 439-42); commission of 14 June 1813 (C 66/4138).
19 Commission of 24 Feb. 1816 (C 66/4170). It had initially been intended that Martin should fill the office of Deputy Controller, but by the time the patent was drawn he had been appointed Controller. He was in fact paid as Deputy Controller from 1 Dec. 1815, the day on which his warrant to inspect books and papers at the Navy Office was issued, to 8 Feb. 1816, the day on which his salary as Controller commenced (Adm. 7/819 pp. 169-70).
20 Adm. 106/84, 22 March 1817.
21 Commission of 20 Feb. 1822 (C 66/4243).
22 Order in council 2 Feb. 1829 (PC 2/210 pp. 337-58); commission of 4 May 1829 (C 66/4351). The junior Commissioner, Hon. Robert Dundas, who was left without office as a result of this reform, by order in council 13 May 1829 was granted a temporary annual allowance of £500 on the distinct understanding that he should succeed to the first vacant office at the disposal of the Admiralty for which he was qualified (PC 2/210 pp. 743-8). He was appointed Deputy Controller in 1830.
23 Adm. 7/821 ff. 59, 61; commission of 25 Feb. 1831 (C 66/4384).
24 Letters patent to Phineas Pett 1 July 1680 (C 66/3216). Pett was appointed to succeed to the first vacant office, and succeeded within a month as Controller of Storekeepers' Accounts.
25 In the cases of Hayter and Pepys (Joint Clerks of the Acts 1673) and Priestman (Controller of Storekeepers' Accounts 1689) some six months elapsed between the issue of the warrant to act and the issue of the letters patent. Their appointments have therefore been dated by reference to the warrants.
26 The cases were: Shovell, Timewell and Gashry, Controllers of Victualling Accounts, 1699, 1705 and 1744; Saunders and Hall, Controllers of Treasurers' Accounts 1729 and 1753. On four occasions Commissioners resident at the out-ports were called to the Board as Extra Commissioners on the orders of the Admiralty alone: Timewell (from Kinsale) 1696, Gifford (from Portsmouth) 1706, Townsend (from Portsmouth) 1713 and Wright (from Kinsale) 1713. Greenhill, the Commissioner for the affairs of Deptford and Woolwich Yards, was appointed Controller of Storekeepers' Accounts by Admiralty warrant in 1702. Le Cras was appointed an Extra Commissioner by Admiralty warrant in 1778, having initially been appointed a Commissioner resident in North America.
27 Order in council 4 July 1660 (PC 2/54 f. 53).
28 Adm. 106/51 no. 1656; Adm. 106/56 no. 2513.
29 An additional annual allowance of £500 was made available to Deane in 1686 to induce him to serve as a Commissioner for Current Business (Adm. 106/64 no. 130). Wilshaw and Jennings, the Controllers of Storekeepers' Accounts, received additional annual allowances of £500 when resident at Cadiz 1694-7 and at Lisbon 1708-10 (NMM Adm. A/1812 f. 90; Adm. 2/36 p. 338; Adm. 7/810 f. 2).
30 Adm. 7/813 f. o [sic]; D. Syrett, Shipping and the American War 1775-83 (London 1970), 136.
31 Order in council 4 July 1794 (PC 2/140 pp. 463-4); commission of 25 Sept. 1794 (C 66/3906).
32 Order in council 8 June 1796 (17th Rept. on Finance, 331-2).
33 Order in council 12 Oct. 1801 (PC 2/159 p. 285). By order in council 28 Oct. 1807 it was provided that the Controller should no longer receive half pay as a naval officer in addition to his salary (4th Rept. Commrs. of Naval Revision, 37). But by order in council 28 March 1811 Thompson, the Controller in office in 1807, was allowed to receive his half pay as long as he remained in office (PC 2/192 pp. 118-20).
34 Commission of 25 Feb. 1831 (C 66/4384); Adm. 7/821 f. 59.
35 Commission of 2 Nov. 1831 (C 66/4398).