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Navy Board
Flag of the Navy Board.svg
Flag of the Navy Board
Agency overview
Formed Modern authority, 1964
Jurisdiction United Kingdom United Kingdom
Headquarters Whitehall, London
Agency executive
Parent agency Ministry of Defence

The Navy Board is today the body responsible for the day-to-day running of the British Royal Navy.[1] Its composition is identical to that of the Admiralty Board of the Defence Council of the United Kingdom, except that it does not include any of Her Majesty's Ministers.[2]

Old Navy Board

From 1546 to 1831, the Navy Board was also the name of a body separate from the Admiralty, originally called Council of the Marine and presided over by the Lieutenant of the Admiralty, which was responsible for the administrative affairs of the naval service, including the building and repair of and supplies to naval ships.[3] In doing so, they ran the six major naval dockyards in England, Deptford, Woolwich, Chatham, Sheerness, Portsmouth and Plymouth, as well as smaller operations elsewhere. However their armament was the responsibility of an independent body, the Board of Ordnance.

In the 18th century, the Navy Board had subsidiary organisations such as the Sick and Hurt Commissioners (responsible for naval medical services) and the Victualling Commissioners (responsible for food supplies).

While the Navy Board operated the dockyards, it depended on a network of suppliers for many of the commodities needed for building and repairing ships. Most ironware was provided by contractors, but there were also smiths employed in each dockyard. Shortly after the English Restoration, Robert Foley obtained a contract from the Navy Board to supply ironware to several dockyards.[4] His son Robert Foley II succeeded him in this contract, but was replaced by Ambrose Crowley, whose family retained the contract for all the dockyards except Portsmouth until the 1780s.[5]


  1. ^ About the Royal Navy: Navy Board
  4. ^ M. B. Rowlands, Masters and Men in the West Midlands metalware trades before the industrial revolution (Manchester University Press, 1975), 87-92.
  5. ^ M. W. Flinn, Men of Iron: the Crowleys in the early iron industry (Edinburgh University Press 1962), 44-5; The National Archives, ADM 49/120-121, passim.

1893 text

A list of the Officers of the Admiralty, May 31st, 1660. From a MS. in the Pepysian Library in Pepys’s own handwriting.

His Royal Highness James, Duke of York, Lord High Admiral. Sir George Carteret, Treasurer. Sir Robert Slingsby, (soon after) Comptroller. Sir William Batten, Surveyor. Samuel Pepys, Esq., Clerk of the Acts.

Commissioners: John, Lord Berkeley (of Stratton,) Sir William Penn, Peter Pett, Esq.—B,

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

5 Annotations

Pauline  •  Link

From Claire Tomalin's "Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self" pp49-50
"The members of the Navy Board were appointed by the king and whoever he chose to listen to. In 1660 Sandwich [Montagu], as vice-admiral, was one adviser, alongside the duke of York and his secretary, William Coventry. They agreed that the board should consist of four principal officers, as it had done under Charles I--treasurer, comptroller, surveyor and clerk of the acts--and three commissioners, a system that had worked well under the commonwealth. Sir George Carteret, an impeccable royalist whose service at sea had begun under Charles I and who had held Jersey for him, was appointed treasurer. He had official lodgings at Whitehall, a house in Pall Mall, another at Deptford and a country mansion near Windsor, and he was the highest paid,with L2,000 a year and the right to three pence in every pound he handled--this was a remnant of the old way of doing things. He was well disposed to Pepys, and Pepys knew he must cultivate him. The comptrollership went to two still more aged cavaliers, first Sir Robert Slingsby, who died within a year, then Sir John Mennes, whose naval career went back to the 1620s. He had fought at sea with Prince Rupert and no doubt against William Penn; and he was an educated man, a wit and a poet who had published imitations of Chaucer and encouraged Pepys to appreciate "The Canterbury Tales" and "Troilus and Ciseyde".

"The surveyor, with particular responsibility for the dockyards and the design, building and repair of ships, was Sir William Batten, a professional who had served on both sides during the civil war. Of the commissioners, Penn, who was given a brief to take an interest in every aspect of the board's work, also owed his appointment to his years of experience as a naval commander; both men made a useful practical link with the commonwealth regime. Another commisioner, Peter Pett, the master-shipwright at Chatham, had nothing of the cavalier about him and had served Cromwell zealously; but no change of government could unseat him, because the Pett family had a virtual monopoly of shipbuilding in the Thames yards, and he moved smoothly to work for the restored monarchy. In May 1660 he had been summoned on board the Naseby to prepare it for the king, and later in the year he started to build a royal pleasure yacht, the Catherine, greatly admired by Pepys.

"These were the men with whom Pepys chiefly had to work; Lord Berkeley, the third commissioner, was appointed purely as a sign of royal favour; nothing was expected of him. There were further officers working at the more distant dockyards, Harwich and Portsmouth, some with histories of service to the commonwealth. Other minor officials left over from commonwealth days contrived to hang on in lesser Jobs....

"Each officer of the Navy Board was served by his own two clerks, chosen by himself and usually owing their jobs to personal connections, just as their master did. Pepys was quick to defend his two, Tom Hayter and Will Hewer, against any criticism and to attack inefficiency among the other. The rest of the staff served everyone: two messengers, a doorkeeper, a porter and couple of watchmen; and there were boatmen ready to take all the board official up or down river at all times."

Pedro.  •  Link

Naval Board General powers (L&M Companion):

The Board was to make most of its decisions jointly. It was required to meet twice a week, the hours and days being varied during parliamentary session for the benefit of the members who were MP's or peers. In 1660 when, it was getting into its stride, and in crises, during the war and after, it met more frequently. Two members constituted a quorum. The clerks were present except when the Board resolved to meet "close".

vicenzo  •  Link

Navy board Officials
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. .....

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.
From: 'Introduction', Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume VII: Navy Board Officials 1660-1832 (1978) pp. 1-17 URL: Date accessed: 10 April 2005

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