Admiralty House

Survey of London: Volume 16, St Martin-in-The-Fields I: Charing Cross. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1935.

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'Admiralty House', in Survey of London: Volume 16, St Martin-in-The-Fields I: Charing Cross, ed. G H Gater, E P Wheeler( London, 1935), British History Online [accessed 19 July 2024].

'Admiralty House', in Survey of London: Volume 16, St Martin-in-The-Fields I: Charing Cross. Edited by G H Gater, E P Wheeler( London, 1935), British History Online, accessed July 19, 2024,

"Admiralty House". Survey of London: Volume 16, St Martin-in-The-Fields I: Charing Cross. Ed. G H Gater, E P Wheeler(London, 1935), , British History Online. Web. 19 July 2024.

In this section


Ground Landlord.

The premises are the freehold of the Crown, and are used as the residence of the First Lord of the Admiralty.

History of the site.

The plan of 1670 (see p. 8) shows between the north end of the Horse Guards building and "the Passage into ye Park," a block of property marked R, i.e. "Mrs. Kirke." The southernmost portion of this property, where the four trees are shown, but extending along the eastern end as far as the kink in the frontage, was that part of the Kirke property which was acquired by Sir Robert Holmes (see p. 18). The remainder of the R block, together with a small house on the other side of the passage into the Park, was in 1606 held by Audrey, Lady Walsingham. (fn. n1) According to an official survey (fn. n2) made in that year it consisted of three tenements: (i) A tenement, "buylded harde under the parke wall of St. James," at the north end of the Tilt Yard, containing in length 35½ feet to the passage "leading to a gate of the said parke called the Tylte Yearde Gate," (fn. n3) and in width 10½ feet at the north end and 8 feet at the south, with a garden 21 feet by 10 feet. (ii) A "litell house" on the other side of the passage, next to "the house [afterwards Wallingford House] in the tenure of the righte ho. Lorde Knolles," containing in length from the park wall to a passage into the house of Lord Knollys 13½ feet and in breath 5 feet, "Conteyning Foure Roomes viz. Twoo belowe And twoo over them, Whereof one roome the saied Ladie Walsingham useth for her kytchen And thother Three for Lodginges for her servauntes." (iii) A "lytell shedde made with Boordes and tyled which … the Ladie Scudamore did buylde onlie for a porters Lodge, sceated by himselfe on the lefte hand behinde the Gate nexte the Kinges highwaye," 9 feet long by 6 feet wide. The premises were said to be worth only £3 a year, (fn. n4) "for that all the Buylding excepte the Shedd is but of a lowe buylding and but ij Stories or degrees high withoute any Garretts."

On 17th April, 1612, James I, in consideration of the fact that Lady Walsingham had spent "One Thousand Markes & more of currant English mony" in building, and "for … the good and acceptable Service to our most entirelie beloved wife Queene Anne by … the said Ladye Walsingham done," granted to her nominee, Arthur Proger, a lease of the premises for forty years at a rent of five shillings. (fn. n5) From a comparison of the description with that given in 1606, it is evident that Lady Walsingham's building operations had been extensive. (i) The tenement against the Park wall has now expanded into a messuage or mansion house "nowe in the handes … of the said Lady Walsingham, " extending 66 feet from the passage, as well as (a) a "littell yard or garden, " containing "from thend of the buildings under the Gallery of the sayd Messuage towards the south" 10 feet, and "from the sayd Parke Wall towards the East" 16 feet; (b) a range of buildings extending from the main portion of the messuage eastwards 48 feet long and 20 feet wide; and (c) a "Stayre Case scituate in the Angell" made by the messuage and (b). (ii) The "litell house" on the other side of the passage has now become a "Range of buylding" 31 feet long and 10 feet wide. (iii) The "litell shedde" is now described as a "little lodge and Chamber over it lately buylte … for Mary, Lady Scudamore, "in length from north to south 9 feet and from east to west 10 feet.

Figure 9:

Walsingham and Pickering Houses before 1670

Figure 10:

Walsingham and Pickering Houses (circa 1675)

Two plans, undated, but later than the grant to Lady Walsingham, are here reproduced. The one is obviously earlier than the sale of the adjoining premises to Sir Robert Holmes in 1670 (see p. 18); the other subsequent to that transaction, and probably drawn in connection with the lease to Lady Marischal in 1675. From them, and particularly from the latter, (i) (a), (b) and (c) and (iii) can readily be identified, through the measurements are slightly different. The building (ii) on the other side of the passage, which in 1606 included Lady Walsingham's kitchen, has apparently become "part of the Duke of Buckingham's kitchen," and was no doubt added to Wallingford House after the duke had acquired the lease of Walsingham House (see below).

Walsingham House, being adjacent to the Tiltyard, afforded an excellent view (no doubt from the gallery at its southern end) of the jousting, and we find that in 1620 arrangements were made for preparing "Sr Thomas Walsinghams house agaynste the Tylting day for the king of Bohemia his Ambassador, and other Ambassadors." (fn. n6)

Proger's lease was subsequently purchased by the Duke of Buckingham. In the time of the Commonwealth the house was sequestered "as the Duchess of Buckingham's, for the delinquency of the Earl of Antrim, her husband." From various orders for sequestrations it appears that Mr. Fines (fn. n7) was in residence in 1644, and Lady "Cawfield" in 1646. (fn. n8) In 1650 Sir Gilbert Pickering (fn. n9) was there. On 13th March in that year the Committee for Middlesex and Westminster were asked to certify whether in valuing the two houses of Pickering the little passage which he wished to lay to his house had been considered. The Committee on 21st March replied that they were of opinion that he should have the passage as desired. (fn. n10)


One of the two houses was Walsingham House; the other was Pickering House, which now for the first time emerges into the light. It had been built by Pickering (fn. n11) on the east side of Walsingham House, fronting the street.

In 1658 John Embree petitioned Cromwell, stating that he had purchased from the trustees for the sale of the late King's lands "a little, old and ruinous house adjoining to Wallingford House." This was presumably Walsingham House. "Forasmuch as some pretence hath been made that the premises are or were formerly reputed part of Whitehall," the petitioner found it advisable to obtain a more secure title, and asked for a lease of the premises for ninety-nine years at a peppercorn rent. (fn. n12) Whether either Embree or Pickering obtained their respective leases has not been ascertained, but on the Restoration both houses came under the custody of George Kirke as "housekeeper" of Whitehall.

The occurrence of the name of the "Dutches of Richmond" in the ratebooks for 1661 and 1664 next to that of the Duke of Buckingham suggests that she was resident at Walsingham House, and confirmation of this is given by the following item under the date of January, 1664–5: "for paving the yard between the Dutchess of Richmonds and wallingford howse going into ye Park." (fn. n13)

About 1670 (fn. n14) Joseph Williamson petitioned for a reversionary grant of Walsingham House to take effect on Kirke's death, but nothing seems to have come of this, and on 10th August, 1675, the two houses called Little Wallingford House (the new name for Walsingham House) and Pickering House were granted to Anne, Countess Dowager Marischal, (fn. n15) for life. The "passage into the Park," which the plan of 1670 shows was then still open, had apparently now been closed, for the plan reproduced on p. 30 shows it blocked at the western end by "the new parler." From a document of the preceding year it appears that the countess was already in possession of the property, the premises being described as "severall Lodgings being built upon the Wall of Our Parke of St. James next to Our Horse Guards, wch at her own Charges Shee hath fitted & beautified." (fn. n16) The parish ratebooks for 1686 show "Lady Marshall" in occupation. About this time Queen Catherine claimed the property, as well as the house built by Sir Robert Holmes, as belonging to the Manor of Westminster which had been assigned to her as part of her dower, and in 1689 went so far as to make a lease (fn. n17) of the houses, under the title of "Little Walsingham Houses … now or late in the Severall tenures of the Countess Dowager Marshall and Mr. Blathwaite."

Lady Marischal was now dead, (fn. n18) but William Blathwayt, (fn. n19) the occupier of Sir Robert Holmes' house, came forward to contest the claims of the Queen Dowager, and to apply for a lease to himself of Lady Marischal's house. In his application (fn. n20) he suggested (what was probably the fact) that the object of the "certaine persons" who were "endeavouring to gett possession of the said House" was "to build the same into severall dwelling Houses or Tenements within your Matie's Parke," and offered that, if he were granted a lease, he would endeavour to make out at his own charge the King's right to the property. The matter was referred to the attorney-general, who decided against the Queen Dowager. (fn. n21) After some further investigation into the contents of the actual grant to Queen Catherine, the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury were satisfied that Blathwayt's application could be complied with, and on 17th June, 1690, letters patent were issued granting him a thirty-one years' lease of the two tenements called Little Wallingford House and Pickering House.

Although these "two tenements" are individually named (and so continue till the demolition of the building in 1786), they had already been combined. (fn. n22) The name "Little Wallingford House," except in legal documents (when it was always combined with Pickering House), seems now to have been used for a time for the whole building. (fn. n23)

By the terms of Blathwayt's lease he was not allowed to build without licence. The demolition of Wallingford House (see p. 51) in 1694 necessitated some new building, and on 22nd June, 1694, he received the royal licence to "raise one story and build some conveniences to the two houses called Little Wallingford House and Pickering House." (fn. n24)

On the expiry of Blathwayt's term in 1721 (after his death) a new lease was granted (22nd November, 1723) to his son, Lt.-Col. John Blathwayt. The latter conveyed the premises to the Earl of Kinnoull, (fn. n25) who in 1727 applied for a reversionary lease to make up the term to fifty years. The house was said to be "very old and so much out of Repair" as to be not habitable. (fn. n26) The lease asked for was granted on 8th December, 1727.

On 14th September, 1753, Lord Kinnoull assigned the premises to his son, (fn. n27) Viscount Dupplin. (fn. n28) An encroachment had been made on St. James's Park by the formation of a bow window and an "area" on the west side of the house, and Lord Dupplin applied for (fn. n29) and obtained a licence (fn. n30) in respect of the additional land, which was included in all subsequent grants. In 1760 Dupplin, now Earl of Kinnoull, applied (fn. n31) for a new lease to make up his then remaining term to fifty years. The premises are stated to be "old buildings, wanting some repairs," and the grant was made on 9th May, 1761. At the earl's request a triangular portion of the street in front of the premises, "containing in breadth at the north end where it adjoins to the new wall of the Admiralty 7 ft 7Ins" and thence diminishing to a point, was included in the grant. The new entry which apparently was then constructed is shown in Cunego's view of the Admiralty (Plate 59).

Earl of Kinnoul

The earl subsequently parted with his interest in the property to Sir Richard Glyn. (fn. n32) On the latter's death in 1773 his sons, Sir Richard Carr Glyn and Thomas Glyn, obtained (26th August, 1773) a reversionary lease to expire on 8th May, 1822, and on 23rd November, 1775, the property was purchased (fn. n33) by Sir Robert Barker. (fn. n34) In 1785 Barker applied for a new lease of the premises, which were said to consist of "one old Brick Messuage, with Offices, Coach Houses and Stables," but without waiting for the result of his application sold the house to Sir Robert Taylor (fn. n35) on 15th September, 1785.

Taylor actually was in possession for only a few months. On 16th December, 1785, he sold the premises, described as "all that messuage … heretofore two Houses and called Little Wallingford house and Pickering House," with the pieces of ground added, as mentioned above, from time to time, to the Commissioners of the Navy, for £3,200. (fn. n36)

The house was pulled down in the course of the following year, (fn. n37) and on its site was erected the present Admiralty House.

Description of Structure.

The present building was erected in 1786–8 (fn. n38) from the designs of Samuel Pepys Cockerell, Surveyor to the Board of Admiralty, and a pupil of Sir Robert Taylor.

The main front (Plates 46).and 47), which is set back some distance from Whitehall, is executed in brickwork, with stone dressings, and presents a rather austere appearance, displaying a composition of three vertical bays with the centre recessed. Relief is afforded by a central Venetian window set in a semicircular-headed recess, and also by balustraded panels below the windows to the main floor. The forecourt, containing an area and offices, is screened by a stone wall which is surmounted by an iron railing interspaced with scroll lamp brackets.

The west front, which overlooks the park, is in plain brickwork, relieved with stone bands at the ground and first-floor levels, and a moulded stone cornice and blocking course at the eaves.

The building contains some handsome and lofty rooms, planned on a generous scale, with many features of decorative interest. The walls of the main rooms are hung with pictures painted by Hodges, Webber, Westall and others, and record voyages and expeditions to Australia, etc. Hodges accompanied Captain Cook in 1774 to the Cape, Eastern Islands, Marquesas and New Zealand. Webber was with Cook in his last voyage during 1776–79, and Westall sailed with Captain Flinders in his expedition of 1801.

The marble mantelpieces to the principal rooms are rather ornate, and were brought from Lord Egremont's house in Piccadilly (one), from Sir Frederick Page's house, Wricklemarsh, Blackheath (four), and from York House (three). Though their acquisition is duly recorded, (fn. n39), the original purposes of the rooms in which they were placed have undergone a change, and it has not been possible to locate all of them definitely. The records also show that a quantity of old materials and fittings were used in the erection of the new premises.

Some of the rooms contain sets of curious furniture made to the order of Mr. John Fish, and presented to Greenwich Hospital in 1815 in memory of Nelson. They were removed hither from the Governor's house when the Hospital was closed in 1869. The various pieces are vigorously carved and gilded, with dolphins as the chief motif of their design (Plate 52).

The entrance hall (Plate 48), originally part of the Admiralty, is entered from the south-west corner of the Admiralty courtyard (see Plate 62). The mantelpiece is in grey marble, with a portrait over (in a carved frame of martial trophies) of the Duke of Cumberland, presented by Lord Lee of Fareham. The walls opposite are adorned by two large oil paintings of naval scenes representing "Solebay Fight, 1672," left to the Admiralty as a legacy by the 4th Earl of Sandwich, and "Attack on Martinique, January 16th, 1762."

Figure 11:

Tripod Dolphin Stand

The Inner Hall has the wall surfaces interspaced with Doric pilasters supporting an entablature, above which springs a wagonvaulted ceiling divided into panels by bands containing the guilloche (Plate 49). The northern end has on each side a pair of detached columns which support a flat arch with a panelled soffit, thus forming an "ante" from which starts the main staircase (Plate 49). The western wall has a semicircular alcove containing a cast-iron stove designed as a rostral column on a pedestal (Plate 49). The hall chairs, which are in mahogany and date from circa 1722, bear on their backs a shield containing the Admiralty badge. The armour is on loan from the Tower of London. In the window recess on a tripod dolphin stand is a glass vase on which are painted a view of the Battle of Trafalgar and a likeness of Lord Nelson in Triumph. A brass plate on the stand records that it was the "Gift of John Fish, Esq., of Kempton Park, and was presented by his widow and executrix, 1815, to the memory of Lord Viscount Nelson."

The Dining Room. One of the chief features in this room is the large three-light window, which is divided by Ionic columns on a podium the height of the chair rail (Plate 50). The doors are double-margin, six-panelled, with moulded heads, the most important having semi-pilasters to the casings and pediments. The mantelpiece, which is in statuary marble, has a carved centre tablet to the frieze between scrolls of fruit, with the shelf supported on trusses (Plate 54). The panel depicts "Hercules Rejecting Pleasure and Choosing Virtue," from an engraving (1713) by Girbelin after Paulo Matthei. This mantelpiece probably came from York House. The portrait of Samuel Pepys (Plate 51). was presented by the Rt. Hon. J. W. Croker. The "Fish" set of furniture in this room has been already referred to.

The Boudoir, or "ante" to the Dining Room, has the walls panelled and a wagon-vaulted ceiling. The mantelpiece is in Sienna and statuary marble with the fireplace opening flanked by tapering pilasters. The portrait over it is of Martha Ray. (fn. n40) The frieze has entwined dolphins and shells with urns over the pilasters. The character of these decorations suggests that this mantelpiece was designed for the premises (Plate 50).

The South Drawing Room, or Music Room, has a statuary marble mantelpiece with term-shaped pedestals supporting female busts on each side of the fire opening, and the frieze decorated with a carved panel between swags of fruit. The cast-iron grate is interesting. This mantelpiece probably came from York House (Plate 54).

The Official Drawing Room has a statuary marble mantelpiece heavy in execution. On each side of the fire opening are overloaded trusses with acanthus leafage and festoons of fruit. A deep central tablet containing swags of fruit, similar to those on the frieze, has a small broken pediment to the mantelshelf. This room also contains examples of the "Fish" furniture (Plates 52 and 53).

First floor. The Vestibule has a deep coved ceiling springing above the cornice, with bands containing guilloche and acanthus scroll ornament. The doors are double-margin, six-panelled, set in a semicircular-headed recess. The double doors leading from the stairs have a moulded overdoor supported on trusses. A large painting represents Actaeon surprising Diana and her Nymphs (Plate 55).

Reception Room. This is a handsome room, having the surface of the walls divided into arched recesses and finished with a deep cove with octagonal coffering, and a decorated band on the ceiling. On the east side is the large Venetian window which overlooks Whitehall. It is divided into three lights by fluted Ionic columns and pilasters supporting an entablature, the cornice of which continues round the room at the springing of the cove (Plates 55)and 56). The mantelpiece is in Sienna and statuary marbles, with Ionic columns on each side of the fire opening, and a carved central panel between scroll ornaments to the frieze. This probably came from York House (Plate 57).

The Library has an enriched modillion cornice. The door leading to the Vestibule has a decorated casing with egg-and-tongue architrave lining and Corinthian columns supporting a pedimented head. A lower frieze contains a carved mask between swags of laurel (Plate 53). The statuary marble mantelpiece has a carved frieze with a scroll of repeat design, while on each side of the jambs and supporting the ends of the moulded shelf are term-shaped pilasters with well-carved busts. This mantelpiece probably came from Blackheath. On each side of the doorway is a carved table with a Sienna marble top in the style of Daniel Marot. There are tables similar in style in some of the other rooms. There is also a grandfather clock by Thomas Mudge and William Dalton.

Figure 12:

Carved side-table in Library

Bedroom. The mantelpiece is in statuary marble and has an eared architrave with egg-and-tongue moulding to the fire opening. Pilasters on each side of the jambs contain festooned trusses, which support the enriched moulded mantelshelf. The frieze has swags of fruit and also a carved central tablet containing a female mask between bunches of grapes and vine leaves. This probably came from Egremonts (Plate 57).

Dressing Room. The end of this room is divided into a bay by fluted Corinthian pilasters, supporting an entablature, above which springs a panelled wagon-vaulted ceiling (Plate 56). The remainder of the room has a groined ceiling and a cornice and frieze continued round the walls at the height of the top member of the entablature to the bay. The mantelpiece is carved in wood, and has small medallions to the frieze and shallow consoles on each side of the jambs.

Condition of Repair.


Historical Notes.

Admiralty House was built in 1786–88 (see p. 35) as a residence for the first lords of the admiralty, a list of whom (with biographical details of the holders of the office until 1840) is here given. The dates up to 1841 are taken from the patents, and those from 1846 to 1905 from Haydn's Dictionary of Dates.

Date of Appointment.
16th July, 1788 John, Earl of Chatham
19th December, 1794 George John, Earl Spencer
19th February, 1801 John, Earl of St. Vincent
15th May, 1804 Henry, Viscount Melville
2nd May, 1805 Charles, Lord Barham
16th February, 1806 Charles Grey (afterwards Earl Grey)
29th September, 1806 Thomas Grenville
6th April, 1807 Henry, Baron (afterwards Earl of) Mulgrave
3rd July, 1810 Charles Yorke
25th March, 1812 Robert, Viscount Melville
2nd May, 1827 William Henry, Duke of Clarence (afterwards H.M. King William IV), as Lord High Admiral
19th September, 1828 Robert, Viscount Melville
25th November, 1830 Sir James Robert George Graham, Bt.
11th June, 1834 George, Baron (afterwards Earl of) Auckland
23rd December, 1834 Thomas Philip, Earl De Grey
25th April, 1835 George, Baron Auckland
19th September, 1835 Gilbert, Earl of Minto
8th September, 1841 Thomas, Earl of Haddington
13th January, 1846 Edward, Earl of Ellenborough
24th July, 1846 George, Earl of Auckland
18th January, 1849 Sir Francis Thornhill Baring (afterwards Lord Northbrook)
28th February, 1852 Algernon, Duke of Northumberland
5th January, 1853 Sir James Robert George Graham, Bt.
24th February, 1855 Sir Charles Wood, Bt. (afterwards Viscount Halifax)
26th February, 1858 Sir John Somerset Pakington, Bt. (afterwards Lord Hampton)
June, 1859 Edward Adolphus, Duke of Somerset
6th July, 1866 Sir John Somerset Pakington, Bt.
8th March, 1867 Henry Thomas Lowly Corry
9th December, 1868 Hugh Culling Eardley Childers
9th March, 1871 George Joachim Goschen (afterwards Viscount Goschen)
21st February, 1874 George Ward Hunt
7th August, 1877 (about) William Henry Smith
28th April, 1880 Thomas George, Earl of Northbrook
24th June, 1885 Lord George Francis Hamilton
6th February, 1886 (about) George Frederick Samuel, Marquess of Ripon
26th July, 1886 Lord George Francis Hamilton
18th August, 1892 John Poyntz, Earl Spencer
25th June, 1895 George Joachim Goschen
12th November, 1900 William Waldegrave, Earl of Selborne
4th March, 1905 Frederick Archibald Vaughan, Earl Cawdor
December, 1905 Edward Marjoribanks, Baron Tweedmouth
April, 1908 Reginald McKenna
October, 1911 Winston Churchill
May, 1915 Arthur James Balfour (afterwards Earl of Balfour)
December, 1916 Sir Edward Henry Carson (afterwards Baron Carson)
July, 1917 Sir Eric Geddes
October, 1919 Walter Hume Long (afterwards Viscount Long)
February, 1921 Arthur Hamilton, Baron (afterwards Viscount) Lee of Fareham
October, 1922 Leopold Stennett Amery
January, 1924 Frederick John Napier, Viscount Chelmsford
November, 1924 William Clive Bridgeman (afterwards Viscount Bridgeman of Leigh)
June, 1929 Albert V. Alexander
August, 1931 Sir Austen Chamberlain
November, 1931 Sir Bolton Meredith Eyres Monsell

John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham, son of the 1st Earl and elder brother of William Pitt the younger, was born in 1756. He entered the army, and served as a subaltern during the siege of Gibraltar in 1779–83. In 1788 he joined his brother's ministry as first lord of the admiralty, and held office until the end of 1794. He was then appointed lord privy seal, and in 1796 president of the council, resigning in 1801. His connection with the army during this period had remained unbroken, and in 1799 he had commanded a brigade in Holland, being wounded at the battle of Beverwyk. From 1801 to 1806 he was master-general of the ordnance. He became lieutenantgeneral in 1802, governor of Plymouth in 1805 and governor of Jersey in 1807. In 1809 he was placed in command of the ill-fated Walcheren expedition, and failed utterly. (fn. n41) He was promoted to be general in 1812, and in 1820 was made governor of Gibraltar. He died in 1835. Chatham was the first "first lord" to take up his quarters in Admiralty House. (fn. n42)

George John Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer, was born in 1758 and educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge. After a period of two years abroad he entered parliament in 1780 as member for Northampton, and in 1782 was returned for Surrey. In 1783 he succeeded to the earldom. He was a strong supporter of Pitt, and in 1794 was sent to Vienna as ambassadorextraordinary, being appointed on his return first lord of the admiralty, a position which he held for over six years. Spencer's tenure of office was marked by the victories of St. Vincent and Camperdown and the settlement of the mutinies at Spithead and the Nore, and it was by him that Nelson was selected for independent command and sent out to the Mediterranean, where he won the battle of the Nile. In 1799 he was made K.G. In 1806–7 he was home secretary. He held no further office, devoting his time in later years chiefly to Northamptonshire affairs. He was also one of the founders and the first president of the Roxburghe Club, but his chief work was the rehabilitation of the famous Althorp Library (now the John Rylands Library in Manchester) founded by his ancestor, Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland. He died in 1834.

John Jervis, Earl of St. Vincent, born in 1735, was the second son of Swynfen Jervis, who became solicitor to the admiralty and treasurer of Greenwich Hospital. Jervis entered the navy in 1749. His first command came in 1759, when he was engaged in the operations against Quebec. From 1769 to 1772 he was in command of the Alarm in the Mediterranean, after which he travelled in Europe, everywhere making professional notes. In 1775 he was appointed to command the Foudroyant, and took part in Keppel's action off Ushant (afterwards giving evidence in his favour at the subsequent court martial) and the reliefs of Gibraltar, and in 1782 greatly distinguished himself by the capture of the French Pégase, for which he was made K.B. In 1795, when he had attained the rank of admiral, he took command in the Mediterranean. His position was rendered very difficult in the following year owing to the occupation of Italy by the French armies and the alliance of Spain with France. Intense apprehension of an invasion was current in England, and the relief was therefore great when in 1797 Jervis utterly defeated a much larger Spanish fleet off Cape St. Vincent. Rewards poured in, and the King conferred on him the earldom of St. Vincent. During the rest of 1797 and the following year he maintained a strict blockade of Cadiz, by his stern discipline keeping his fleet intact and free from the spirit of mutiny which was abroad, but in 1799 his health gave way and he resigned his command. In the following year he took command of the Channel fleet and maintained the blockade of Brest for nearly five months. In 1801 he became first lord of the admiralty, and held the position for three years. His administration is famous in the history of the navy, for he set himself to reform the abuses which he knew were rampant in the dockyards. In this work he necessarily incurred great unpopularity. In 1806–7 he resumed the command of the Channel fleet. This was his last experience of active service. In 1821 he was promoted to be admiral of the fleet, and in 1823 he died.

Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, son of Robert Dundas, Lord Arniston, lord president of the Scottish court of session, was born in 1742 and educated at Edinburgh High School and Edinburgh University. In 1763 he was admitted a member of the Faculty of Advocates, and soon rose to a leading position at the Scottish Bar. In 1766 he became solicitor-general for Scotland, and in 1775 lord advocate. He then gradually relinquished his practice at the Bar for politics. In the previous year he had entered parliament. In 1782–3 and again in 1784–1800 he was treasurer of the navy. From 1791 to 1794 he was home secretary, and in the latter year was appointed secretary of war. He was also from 1793 president of the board of control, but resigned both positions in 1801. In the following year he was raised to the peerage as Viscount Melville and Baron Dunira. In 1804 he became first lord of the admiralty. A commission which had been appointed to investigate irregularities in the several naval departments reported in 1805, and disclosed facts which raised suspicions against Melville's conduct when treasurer of the navy. As a result Melville resigned his office at the admiralty, and in the following year he was impeached, on the initiative of Samuel Whitbread, for the misappropriation of public money. The trial ended in an acquittal, but Melville did not again take office. He declined the offer of an earldom in 1809, and died in 1811.

Charles Middleton, Baron Barham, born in 1726, was second son of Robert Middleton, collector of customs, and of Helen, daughter of Charles Dundas, of Arniston, and was thus a relative of Melville, whom he succeeded as first lord. He entered the navy at an early age, being promoted lieutenant in 1745. His career was not particularly distinguished, though he regularly received promotion, being vice-admiral in 1793 and admiral in 1795. In 1794–5 he was one of the lords of the admiralty. In 1805 he was appointed first lord and created Baron Barham. He held office for less than a year. He died in 1813.

Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, was born in 1764. On leaving Cambridge he spent some time in travel, and in 1786 entered parliament as member for Northumberland. He attached himself to Fox, and this fact excluded him from office for the early portion of his political career. He early took up the question of parliamentary reform, and in 1800 opposed the union with Ireland.

In 1806 Grey (now Lord Howick) became first lord of the admiralty under Lord Grenville. On the death of Fox later in the year he succeeded to his position as leader of the Government Whigs, and was appointed foreign secretary. The ministry came to an end in 1807 and Grey (who towards the end of the year succeeded to the earldom) remained out of office for nearly 24 years. In 1830, in his speech on the address at the meeting of the new parliament, he warmly advocated parliamentary reform, and Wellington's reply was a practical refusal to consider the question. On the defeat of Wellington's ministry later in the year, Grey became prime minister and at once set about preparing a scheme for reform. After great opposition the Bill passed in 1832. In 1834 Grey resigned in consequence of a disagreement in the cabinet on the renewal of the Irish Coercion Act. He took the opportunity of quitting public life, and lived in retirement until his death in 1845.

Thomas Grenville, third son of George Grenville (see p. 67), was born in 1755. He at first adopted a military career, but was driven to resign. In 1780 he entered parliament and, contrary to the politics of his family, attached himself to Fox, but after 1790 gave a general support to Pitt. In 1794 he was sent with Earl Spencer as minister-extraordinary to the court of Vienna, and in 1799 was appointed ambassador to Berlin, to propose an alliance against France. He was shipwrecked on the way and arrived too late. In 1806–7 he was president of the board of control and first lord of the admiralty. He then practically retired from public life. He died in 1846. His hobby of book-collecting resulted in the formation of the famous Grenville Library, which he bequeathed to the British Museum.

Henry Phipps, 1st Earl of Mulgrave and Viscount Normanby, second son of Constantine Phipps, Baron Mulgrave, was born in 1755. He was educated at Eton and entered the army in 1775, rising to the rank of general in 1809. He entered parliament in 1784 as a supporter of Pitt, and became one of the latter's chief military advisers. In 1794 he was created Baron Mulgrave in the English peerage. In 1805 he was made secretary for foreign affairs, resigning, on the death of Pitt, in 1806. On the formation of the Portland ministry in 1807 he became first lord of the admiralty and held the position until 1810. In that year he was appointed master-general of the ordnance, an office which he retained until 1818, when, at his own suggestion, he was replaced by Wellington. In 1812 he had been created Earl of Mulgrave and Viscount Normanby, and on his retirement in 1818 was made G.C.B. He died in 1831. He was a generous patron of art.

Charles Philip Yorke, born in 1764, was the elder son of Charles Yorke, lord chancellor. He was educated at Harrow and St. John's College, Cambridge, and was called to the Bar from the Middle Temple in 1787. He entered parliament in 1790 as member for Cambridgeshire, a constituency which he represented until 1810. He was afterwards returned for St. Germains (1810–2) and Liskeard (1812–8). In 1801 he was made privy councillor and secretary-at-war. The latter post he resigned in 1803, when he became home secretary, holding that office until May, 1804. In 1810 he was made one of the tellers of the exchequer, and in the same year gained great unpopularity by his opposition to the Walcheren enquiry and for enforcing the exclusion from the gallery of strangers during the debate. A few weeks later he was appointed first lord of the admiralty by Perceval, but resigned after barely eighteen months of service. He retired from public life in 1818 and died in 1834.

Robert Saunders Dundas, 2nd Viscount Melville, was the only son of Henry Dundas, the 1st Viscount and friend of Pitt. He was born in 1771 and entered parliament in 1794 as member for Hastings. The two chief offices which he held were those of president of the board of control (1807–9 and again 1809–12) and first lord of the admiralty (1812–27 and again 1828–30). In 1811 he succeeded his father as Viscount Melville. He died in 1851.

For details of the life of the Duke of Clarence, afterwards H.M. King William IV, the reader is referred to the standard biographies. In April, 1827, the duke accepted the office of lord high admiral in the Canning administration. It was intended that he should be virtually first lord of the admiralty, under a different name, with a strong board to advise him, but he refused to acquiesce and insisted on acting as if he were lord high admiral in fact. The result was constant friction between himself and his board and he resigned in August, 1828.

Sir James Robert George Graham, son of Sir James Graham, of Netherby, Cumberland, was born in 1792 and was educated at Westminster and Christ Church, Oxford. Shortly after leaving Oxford he travelled abroad, and was unexpectedly invited to act as private secretary to Lord Montgomerie, the British minister in Sicily. An illness of the latter threw on Graham the responsibility for conducting a delicate negotiation with King Joachim, and he returned home in 1814 with a reputation for ability. He entered parliament in 1818 as member for Hull in the Whig interest, but was unseated at the next election. In 1824 he succeeded his father in the baronetcy, and effected such improvements in his ancestral estate as made Netherby a model farm. In 1826 he produced a pamphlet, Corn and Currency, which brought him into prominence as a man of advanced Liberal opinions, and he became one of the most energetic supporters of the Reform Bill. He entered parliament again in 1826, and in 1830 became first lord of the admiralty in Grey's ministry. In this position he carried out many reforms in the finance of his department. His views gradually became more conservative, and in 1834 he resigned. His next office was that of home secretary in Peel's ministry of 1841–6. In this he incurred great unpopularity, particularly from his action in detaining and opening letters at the post office. From 1846 to 1852 he was out of office, but in the latter year again became first lord of the admiralty. He resigned in 1855 owing to the appointment of a select committee to enquire into the conduct of the Crimean War. He died at Netherby in 1861.

George Eden, Earl of Auckland, born in 1784, was the second son of William, 1st Baron Auckland. He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, and was called to the Bar from Lincoln's Inn in 1809. On the death of his elder brother in 1810 he took the latter's place in parliament, and in 1814 he succeeded his father in the barony. He was a steady supporter of the Reform party, and in 1830 became president of the board of trade in Grey's ministry. In 1834 and again in 1835 he was for a few months first lord of the admiralty. In the latter year he was appointed governor-general of India. The outstanding event in his tenure of office was the Afghan War, for which he was directly responsible. The early operations were crowned with success, and he received an earldom (1839). Reverses, however, followed, and the British troops suffered disaster, but before the news of this arrived Auckland had been superseded by Lord Ellenborough. He left India in 1842, and in 1846 was again appointed first lord of the admiralty. He died while still in office at the beginning of 1849.

Thomas Philip De Grey, Earl De Grey, elder son of Thomas, 2nd Baron Grantham, was born in 1781 and was educated at St. John's College, Cambridge. In 1786 he succeeded his father in the barony. In 1803 he assumed the surname and arms of Weddell in place of Robinson. On the death of his aunt, Countess De Grey, in 1833, he became 2nd Earl De Grey and Baron Lucas of Crudwell, Wilts, and a few weeks later assumed the name of De Grey. In 1834 he succeeded Lord Auckland as first Lord of the Admiralty, and held the office for four months. From 1841 to 1844 he was lord lieutenant of Ireland, and on his return was made K.G. He was the first president of the R.I.B.A. founded in 1834 and continued in the presidency until his death in 1859.

Gilbert Elliot, 2nd Earl of Minto, was born in 1782 and educated at Edinburgh University. In 1806 he entered parliament as member for Ashburton, and afterwards represented Roxburghshire until he succeeded to the earldom in 1814. From 1832 to 1834 he was ambassador at Berlin, and in 1835 succeeded Auckland as first lord of the admiralty. He held the position until 1841. In 1846 he was made lord privy seal and in the following year was sent on a diplomatic mission to Italy, which was a practical failure. He left office in 1852 and died in 1859.

In the Council's Collection are:

Plan of basement floor (copy of drawing in the possession of H.M. Office of Works).
(fn. n43) Plan of ground, first and second floors (copy of drawing in the possession of H.M. Office of Works).
(fn. n43) Elevation to Whitehall and cross section (copy of drawing in the possession of H.M. Office of Works).
(fn. n43) General exterior to Whitehall (photograph).
General exterior to the park (photograph).
Kitchen, general view (photograph).
(fn. n43) Entrance Hall, general view showing mantelpiece (photograph).
Oil painting showing "Solebay Fight, 1672" (photograph).
Oil painting showing "Attack on Martinique, January 16th, 1762" (photograph).
(fn. n43) Inner Hall, general view showing stairs (photograph).
(fn. n43) Inner Hall, general view showing niche with stove (photograph).
Inner Hall, general view showing window and doors, also Nelson Memorial (photograph).
(fn. n43) Dining Room, general views (2) (photographs).
Dining Room, view of three-light window (photograph).
(fn. n43) Dining Room, detail of mantelpiece (photograph).
(fn. n43) Dining Room, portrait of Samuel Pepys (photograph).
Boudoir (ante), general view (photograph).
(fn. n43) Boudoir (ante), detail of mantelpiece (photograph).
South Drawing Room, formerly Music Room, general views (2) (photographs).
South Drawing Room, general views (2) (photographs).
(fn. n43) South Drawing Room, detail of mantelpiece (photograph).
(fn. n43) Drawing Room, general views (2) (photographs).
(fn. n43) Drawing Room, detail of mantelpiece (photograph).
(fn. n43) First floor, Vestibule, general view showing doorway and stairs (photograph).
First floor, Vestibule, general view showing window (photograph).
(fn. n43) Reception Room, general view (photograph).
(fn. n43) Reception Room, view of Venetian window (photograph).
(fn. n43) Reception Room, detail of mantelpiece (photograph).
(fn. n43) Library, general view showing door case (photograph).
Library, detail of grandfather clock (photograph).
Library, detail of mantelpiece (photograph).
(fn. n43) Library, detail of side table (photograph).
(fn. n43) Dressing Room, general view (photograph).
Dressing Room, detail of mantelpiece (photograph).
Bedroom, general view (photograph).
(fn. n43) Bedroom, detail of mantelpiece (photograph).


  • n1. Wife of Sir Thomas Walsingham, and daughter of Sir Ralph Shelton. She was a great favourite with Anne, James I's Queen. The various references to "Walsingham House" in the latter part of the sixteenth century (see. e.g., Hist. MSS. Commission, MSS. of Duke of Rutland, IV, p. 414, and MSS. of Lord De Lisle and Dudley, II, pp. 268 etc.) Probably relate to the house of Sir Francis Walsingham in Seething Lane.
  • n2. P.R.O., Exchequer Special Commissions, Middx. 4167.
  • n3. The Tilt Yard Gate was thus at the west end of the passage into the Park.
  • n4. On the assumption that this implied an actual rent of £3 a year, attempts were made to compel Sir Thomas Walsingham to pay this amount, and in 1618, when the alleged arrears amounted to £36, Sir Thomas, who had been "molested and distreyned" for non-payment, appealed, pointing out that the lease then in force to Proger only provided for a rent of 5s. The charge was accordingly remitted. (P.R.O., L.R. 1/56, fo. 105.)
  • n5. P.R.O., L.R. 1/54, of 105.
  • n6. P.R.O., Accounts of the Treasurer of the Chamber.
  • n7. "Mr. Fines" is given in the ratebook for 1644 in respect of a house which may be this.
  • n8. "Like order that Sir Oliver Fleming shall have Walsingham House, which adjoins Wallingford House, in case Lady Cawfield removes out of the same." (Cal. of S. P., Committee for Compounding, p. 511, 30th June, 1646.)
  • n9. Sir Gilbert Pickering (b. 1613) was a zealous parliamentarian. "First a Presbyterian, then an Independent, then a Brownist, and afterwards an Anabaptist: He was a most furious, fiery, implacable Man; was the principal Agent in casting out most of the Learned Clergy" (Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy (1714), p. 91). He was appointed one of the judges of Charles I, but did not sign the death-warrant. He became lord chamberlain to Cromwell and employed Dryden, his cousin, as secretary. At the Restoration he obtained a pardon through the influence of his brotherin-law, the Earl of Sandwich. He died in 1668.
  • n10. Cal. of S. P., Committee for Compounding, pp. 185 and 187.
  • n11. On 31st October, 1656, a proposal was made that a 99 years' lease should be granted to Sir Gilbert Pickering of the house built by him at the end of the old Tiltyard. (Cal. of S. P. Dom., 1656–7, p. 143.)
  • n12. P.R.O., S.P. 18/182, No. 63.
  • n13. P.R.O., Works, 5/5.
  • n14. P.R.O., S.P. 29/447, No. 15. The document is undated, but Williamson was knighted in 1672.
  • n15. Lady Anne Douglas, daughter of Robert, 8th Earl of Morton, married in 1654 William, 7th Earl Marischal, who died in 1661.
  • n16. P.R.O., S.P. 44/40, p. 237 (10th September, 1674).
  • n17. Indenture, dated 18th October, 1689, between Princess Catherine, Queen Dowager, the Earl of Feversham and others and Ferdinando Mendes, "Doctor in Phisick." (P.R.O., L.R. 1/63.)
  • n18. Her will (P.C.C., 22 Ent) was proved 8th February, 1688–9.
  • n19. William Blathwayt became secretary-at-war in 1683 and held the position until 1704. As Clerk of the Privy Council he was present when the seven bishops were called in and was one of the chief witnesses at their trial. (Dict. Nat. Biog.) He was a favourite with William, III, and it was thought that for his great services he would be raised to the peerage, but the anticipation was not realised. He died at his seat of Dyrham, Glouc., in 1717.
  • n20. Information taken from the Records of H.M. Commissioners of Crown Lands, Entry Book R., pp. 281 etc.
  • n21. "I find that the Title in question was formerly referred to the Examinacion of the last Attorny Generalls of both the late Kings, and they were and are cleare in their Opinions that her said Matie hath no title to the premisses. Upon the whole Matter there appeares nothing to me but that his Matie may … gratify the Peticioner by granting him a Lease of the said House" (12th December, 1689). Sheppard's statement (Old Palace of Whitehall, p. 166) that the attorneygeneral "concluded that there was no adequate ground for Mr. Blathwayt's application" is incomprehensible.
  • n22. The report on Blathwayt's application refers to the house as "a large old Brick Building formerly two Tenemts."
  • n23. "Henry Guy to the Customs Commissioners to send Mr. Blathwayt's goods, lately arrived from Holland, to his lodgings at Little Wallingford House" (Cal. of Treasury Books, 1689–92, p. 1877, 24th October, 1692); "Royal Warrant to the Customs Commissioners to send to Little Wallingford House over against Whitehall Mr. Blathwayt's goods that are coming from Holland" (Cal. of Treasury Books, 1693–6, p. 818, 8th November, 1694); "Lord Kinnoul prays a Lease of a House called Little Wallingford House … now in the Possession of Mr. Blathwaite" (Cal. of Treasury Papers, 1720–8, pp. 57–8). The report of the surveyor-general on the last was dated 13th May, 1721.
  • n24. Cal. of Treasury Books, 1693–4, p. 666.
  • n25. George Henry, 8th Earl of Kinnoull. Born in 1689. Ambassador at Constantinople, 1729–34. Died in 1758.
  • n26. P.R.O., T. 55/1, p. 67.
  • n27. Thomas, Viscount Dupplin, b. 1710, became 9th Earl of Kinnoull on the death of his father in 1758. Was made joint paymaster in 1755, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1758, and in 1759 was sent to Portugal as ambassador extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary. In 1762 he retired into private life, and "thenceforth resided on his estates in Perthshire." (Dict. Nat. Biog.) He died in 1787.
  • n28. Middx. Register, 1755, I, 171. The earliest ratebook including these premises after a long period of years is that for 1754. In that year and from then to 1762 the ratebooks show Lord Dupplin (afterwards Earl of Kinnoull) at the house, except for the year 1757, when Lady Catherine Pelham is given as occupier.
  • n29. P.R.O., T. 55/9, p.30.
  • n30. Grant under sign manual, 30th October, 1754.
  • n31. P.R.O., T. 55/11, p. 483.
  • n32. The ratebooks for 1763 and 1764 are missing. That for 1765 shows Thomas Pitt at the house. In 1766 Sir Richard Glyn takes his place. The latter was knighted in 1752, was Lord Mayor 1758–9, and was created a baronet towards the conclusion of his mayoralty. He died 1st January, 1773. The ratebook for 1775 shows Lady Glyn at the house.
  • n33. Indenture between (1) Dame Elizabeth Glyn, (2) Thos. Bigge, (3) Richard Carr Glyn and Thos. Glyn, and (4) Sir Robert Barker (Middx. Register, 1785, V, 118). The copy in the Middlesex Register is dated 23rd November, 1785, an obvious mistake.
  • n34. The ratebooks for 1776 onwards show Sir Robert Barker as resident at the house. Barker served in the army of the East India Company and became commander-in-chief in Bengal. In 1772 he concluded the Treaty of Fyzabad with the Rohillas against the Mahrattas. He returned to England in 1774 and became M.P. for Wallingford. He was made a baronet in 1781. He died at his seat at Bushbridge, near Godalming, in 1789.
  • n35. Middx. Register, 1785, V, 119.
  • n36. Middx. Register, 1786, I, 249.
  • n37. "Mr. Cockerel … having informed my Lords Commissioners of the Adm[iral]ty that the Monies in his hands arising from the Sale of the materials of the Old House lately standing on the Scite of the new Buildings adding to this Office, after deducting the Expence of Advertisements and other Charges thereon, amount to £311 96 etc." (P.R.O., Adm. 2/583, 28th September, 1786.)
  • n38. (i) "Whereas Mr. Samuel Pepys Cockerell … hath represented to us that … the said Building is now carried up two Stories and the Timbers of the Principal Floor laid on, etc." (P.R.O., Adm. 2/262, p. 452, 28th September, 1786). (ii) "Lord Chatham's new house adjoining the Admiralty is in such forwardness, that on yesterday se'nnight a stock of wines was laid into the cellar." (The Public Advertiser, 9th December, 1788.)
  • n39. (i) "Going to Blackheath, taking down Chimney Pieces and Ironwork belonging to ditto, loading ditto, attending to Town … and carryg all the Chimney Pieces to the Admiralty, Unloading, carrying into the different Rooms and setting ditto, laying Steel hearths to ditto. Piecing and setting old Coveings, going to Egremonts, taking down a Chimney Piece belonging to Shop, Reloading, carryg to Admiralty and setting ditto." (ii) "Chimney pieces by Richard Westmacott. A Rich Statuary Marble Chimney Piece with Sienna Collumns, Carved freezes and blockings, etc., brought from York House. … Fixing ditto in Bed Chamber One Pair floor. … A Statuary Marble Chimney Piece with rich Baso Relievo Tablet, freeze and brought from York House. … Fixing ditto in waiting Room. … A rich Statuary Marble Chimney Piece with Baso Relievo Tablet, rich swags of fruit and foliage, etc., in freeze and Pedestals brought from York House. … Fixing ditto in Library." (P.R.O., Adm. 17/1.)
  • n40. Singer, and mistress of the 4th Earl of Sandwich. She was murdered on 7th April, 1779, by James Hackman, in a fit of jealousy.
  • n41. He attributed his failure to the dilatoriness of the admiral, Strachan, who retaliated in kind: "Great Chatham, with his sabre drawn, Stood waiting for Sir Richard Strachan; Sir Richard, longing to be at 'em, Stood waiting for the Earl of Chatham."
  • n42. "Lord Chatham's removal to his house in the Admiralty is an uncertain matter, at least for some time to come; the old place of residence of the First Lord being much out of repair, it is generally supposed he will remain in Berkeley Square until the new one, which is in great forwardness, is compleated." (The Publick Advertiser, 28th July, 1788.)
  • n43. Reproduced here.