First Lord of the Admiralty

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Office of the First Lord of the Admiralty
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Seal of H.M. Government
Department of the Admiralty
Member of Board of Admiralty
Reports to Prime Minister
Nominator Prime Minister
Appointer Prime Minister
Subject to formal approval by the Queen-in-Council
Term length Not fixed (typically 3–7 years)
Inaugural holder Richard Weston, 1st Earl of Portland
Formation 1628-1964

The First Lord of the Admiralty [1] or formally the Office the First Lord of the Admiralty [2] was the political head of the Royal Navy who was the government's senior advisor on all naval affairs and responsible for the direction and control of Admiralty Department as well as general administration of the Naval Service of the United Kingdom, that encompassed the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines and other services. It was one of the earliest known permanent government posts, apart from being the political head of the Royal Navy the post holder simultaneously held the title of the President of the Board of Commissioners for Exercising the Office of Lord High Admiral known as (the Board of Admiralty). The office of First Lord of the Admiralty existed from 1628 until it was abolished when the Admiralty, Air Ministry, Ministry of Defence and War Office were all merged to form the new Ministry of Defence in 1964.

History[edit]

In 1628, during the reign of Charles I, the Duke of Buckingham, Lord High Admiral of England, was assassinated and the office was placed in commission, under the control of a Board of Commissioners.

The first such First Lord of the Admiralty was Richard Weston, 1st Earl of Portland, who was appointed in 1628 the First Lord was not always a permanent member of the board until the Admiralty Department was established as an official government department in 1709 [3] with the First Lord as its head, it replaced the earlier Office of the Admiralty and Marine Affairs,.[4] During most of the 17th century and the early 18th century, it was not invariable for the Admiralty to be in commission, so there are gaps in the list of First Lords, and a small number of First Lords were for a time Lord High Admiral.

After the Revolution, in 1690, a declaratory Act was passed, during the reign of William and Mary, Parliament passed the Admiralty Act, vesting in the Commissioners the powers formerly held by the Lord High Admiral of England.[5] and at this point became a permanent Cabinet position.

The Admiralty Commission was dissolved in 1701, but was reconstituted in 1709 on the death of Prince George of Denmark,[6] who had been appointed Lord High Admiral. The office has been held in commission from that time onwards, however, except for a short period (1827–28) when the Duke of Clarence was Lord High Admiral. The Board of the Admiralty comprised a number of “Lords Commissioners” headed by a First Lord.[7]

From the early 1800s the post was always held by a civilian [8] (previously flag officers of the Royal Navy also held the post). In 1832 First Lord Sir James Graham instituted reforms and amalgamated the Board of Admiralty and the Navy Board. By the provisions of the Admiralty Act of 1832, two Lords in committee could legalize any action of the Board.[9]

In 1868 Prime Minister, William Gladstone appointed Hugh Childers First Lord, who would introduce a new system at the Admiralty. However these changes restricted communication between the board members who were affected by these new regulations and the sittings of the Board were discontinued altogether. This situation described was further exacerbated by the disaster of HMS Captain in 1870 a poorly designed new vessel for the navy.

The responsibility and powers of the First Lord of the Admiralty were laid down by an Order in Council dated January 14, 1869,[10] and a later Order (March 19, 1872) made the First Lord responsible to the Sovereign and to Parliament for all the business of the Admiralty. However by describing the Lords of the Admiralty as the "assistants" of the First Lord,[11] and by specifically defining their duties, had, in fact, partially disabled the collective power of the Board .

In 1931 for the First time since 1709 the First Lord was not a member of the cabinet.[12] In 1964, the office of First Lord of the Admiralty was abolished, the last holder being the second Earl Jellicoe, the son of Admiral of the Fleet Earl Jellicoe, and the functions of the Sea Lords were then transferred to the Admiralty Board, which forms part of the tri-service Defence Council of the United Kingdom.

Responsibilities and duties[edit]

Between 1800 and 1912 included:[13]

First Lords of the Admiralty of England, 1628–1701[edit]

Name Image In office Left office Reference
The Earl of Portland RichardWeston.jpg 1628 1635 [14]
The Earl of Lindsey Robert Bertie, 1st Earl of Lindsey, by circle of Michiel Jansz van Mierevelt.jpg 1635 1636 [15]
William Juxon, Bishop of Lincoln William Juxon from NPG.jpg 1636 1638 [16]
The Earl of Northumberland
(Lord High Admiral 1638–1642)
Algernon Percy.jpeg 1642 1643 [17]
The Lord Cottington Francis Cottington, 1st Baron Cottington from NPG.jpg 1643 1646 [18]
Sir Henry Capell
(Lord High Admiral 1638–1642)
Peter Lely portrait of Henry Capel 1659.jpg 1679 1681 [19]
The Earl of Nottingham Daniel Finch, 2nd Earl of Nottingham and 7th Earl of Winchilsea by Jonathan Richardson.jpg 1681 1684 [20]
The Earl of Torrington
(Lord High Admiral 1689)
Arthur Herbert, 1st Earl of Torrington.jpg 1689 1690 [21]
The Earl of Pembroke Thomas Herbert, 8th Earl of Pembroke by John Greenhill.jpg 1690 1692 [22]
The Lord Cornwallis 1692 1693 [23]
The Viscount Falkland 1693 1695 [24]
The Earl of Orford Gibson, Edward Russell.jpg 1694 1699 [25]
The Earl of Bridgewater Portrait of John Egerton 3rd Earl of Bridgewater.jpg 1699 1701 [26]
The Earl of Pembroke Thomas Herbert, 8th Earl of Pembroke by John Greenhill.jpg 1701 1702 [27]

First Lords of the Admiralty of Great Britain, 1709–1801[edit]

Name Image In office Left office Reference
The Earl of Orford Gibson, Edward Russell.jpg 1709 1710 [28]
Sir John Leake John Leake by Godfrey Kneller.jpg 1710 1712 [29]
The Earl of Strafford Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford (1672-1739) Diplomat.jpg 1712 1714 [30]
The Earl of Orford Gibson, Edward Russell.jpg 1714 1716 [31]
The Earl of Berkeley 3rdEarlOfBerkeley2.jpg 1717 1727 [32]
The Viscount Torrington George Byng, 1st Viscount Torrington by Jeremiah Davison.jpg 1727 1733 [33]
Sir Charles Wager SirCharlesWager.jpg 1733 1741 [34]
The Earl of Winchilsea Daniel Finch (1689-1769), 8th Earl of Winchilsea, 3rd Earl of Nottingham, by Thomas Worlidge.jpg 1741 1744 [35]
The Duke of Bedford 4thDukeOfBedford.jpg 1744 1748 [36]
The Earl of Sandwich John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich.jpg 1748 1751 [37]
The Lord Anson 1stLordAnson.jpg 1751 1756 [38]
The Earl Temple Richard Grenville-Temple, 2nd Earl Temple by William Hoare.jpg 1756 1757 [39]
The Earl of Winchilsea Daniel Finch (1689-1769), 8th Earl of Winchilsea, 3rd Earl of Nottingham, by Thomas Worlidge.jpg 1757 1757 [40]
The Lord Anson 1stLordAnson.jpg 1757 1762 [41]
The Earl of Halifax 2ndEarlofHalifaxByJoshuaReynoldsNSArtGallery.jpg 1762 1762 [42]
Hon. George Grenville George Grenville (1712–1770) by William Hoare (1707-1792).jpg 1762 1763 [43]
The Earl of Sandwich John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich.jpg 1763 1763 [44]
The Earl of Egmont John Perceval, 2nd Earl of Egmont by Thomas Hudson.jpg 1763 1766 [45]
Sir Charles Saunders Sir Charles Saunders2.jpg 1766 1766 [46]
Sir Edward Hawke Edward Hawke 1.jpg 1766 1771 [47]
The Earl of Sandwich John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich.jpg 1771 1782 [48]
The Viscount Keppel Augustus Keppel BHC2821.jpg 1782 1783 [49]
The Viscount Howe Admiral of the Fleet Howe 1726-99 1st Earl Howe by John Singleton Copley.jpg 1783 1783 [50]
The Viscount Keppel Augustus Keppel BHC2821.jpg 1783 1783 [51]
The Viscount Howe Admiral of the Fleet Howe 1726-99 1st Earl Howe by John Singleton Copley.jpg 1783 1788 [52]
The Earl of Chatham Chatham2.JPG 1788 1794 [53]
The Earl Spencer George Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer.jpg 1794 1801 [54]

First Lords of the Admiralty of the United Kingdom, 1801–1964[edit]

Name Entered office Left office
The Earl of St Vincent John Jervis, Earl of St Vincent by Francis Cotes.jpg 1801 1804
The Viscount Melville Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville by Sir Thomas Lawrence.jpg 1804 1805
The Lord Barham Admiral Charles Middleton, later Lord Barham (1726-1813), by Isaac Pocock.jpg 1805 1806
Viscount Howick Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey by Sir Thomas Lawrence copy.jpg 1806 1806
Thomas Grenville Thomas Grenville (1755-1846).jpg 1806 1807
The Lord Mulgrave Henry Phipps, 1st Earl of Mulgrave by Sir William Beechey.jpg 1807 1810
Charles Philip Yorke CP Yorke by George Romney.jpg 1810 1812
The Viscount Melville Robert Saunders Dundas, 2nd Viscount Melville.jpg 1812 1827
HRH The Duke of Clarence
(Lord High Admiral)
William IV crop.jpg 1827 1828
The Viscount Melville Robert Saunders Dundas, 2nd Viscount Melville.jpg 1828 1830
Sir James Graham, Bt Sir James Graham 2nd Bart First Lord Admiralty.jpg 1830 1834
The Lord Auckland George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland.png 1834 1834
The Earl de Grey 1816-Lord-Grantham-Ingres.png 1834 1835
The Lord Auckland George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland.png 1835 1835
The Earl of Minto 2ndEarlOfMinto.jpg 1835 1841
The Earl of Haddington Thomas Hamilton.jpg 1841 1846
The Earl of Ellenborough 1stEarlOfEllenborough.jpg 1846 1846
The Earl of Auckland George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland.png 1846 1849
Sir Francis Baring, Bt Francis Baring, 1st Baron Northbrook by Sir George Hayter.jpg 1849 1852
The Duke of Northumberland Algernon Percy (1792–1865), 4th Duke of Northumberland by Francis Grant.jpg 1852 1852
Sir James Graham, Bt Sir James Graham 2nd Bart First Lord Admiralty.jpg 1852 1855
Sir Charles Wood, Bt 1stViscountHalifax.jpg 1855 1858
Sir John Pakington, Bt John Pakington 1st Baron Hampton.jpg 1858 1859
The Duke of Somerset 12th Duke of Somerset.png 1859 1866
Sir John Pakington, Bt John Pakington 1st Baron Hampton.jpg 1866 1867
Hon. Henry Lowry-Corry 1867 1868
Hugh Childers Hugh Childers, Lock & Whitfield woodburytype, 1876-83 crop.jpg 1868 1871
George Goschen George Goschen by Bassano.jpg 1871 1874
George Ward Hunt George Ward Hunt (30 July 1825 – 29 July 1877) .jpg 1874 1877
William Henry Smith Smith William Henry Smith (1825–1891).jpg 1877 1880
The Earl of Northbrook Thomas Baring Earl of Northbrook.jpg 1880 1885
Lord George Hamilton Lord George Hamilton.JPG 1885 1886
The Marquess of Ripon George Robinson 1st Marquess of Ripon.jpg 1886 1886
Lord George Hamilton Lord George Hamilton.JPG 1886 1892
The Earl Spencer 5th earl spencer.jpg 1892 1895
George Goschen George Goschen by Bassano.jpg 1895 1900
The Earl of Selborne Caricature of William Palmer, 2nd Earl of Selborne (1859-1942).jpg 1900 1905
The Earl Cawdor 3rdEarlOfCawdor.jpg 1905 1905
The Lord Tweedmouth Portrait of Edward Marjoribanks, 2nd Baron Tweedmouth.jpg 1905 1908
Reginald McKenna Reginald McKenna photo.jpg 1908 1911
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Churchill - 19086236948.jpg 1911 1915
Arthur Balfour Gws balfour 02.jpg 1915 1916
Sir Edward Carson Sir Edward Carson, bw photo portrait seated.jpg 1916 1917
Sir Eric Geddes Sir Eric Campbell-Geddes in 1917.jpg 1917 1919
Walter Long Walter Hume Long, 1st Viscount Long portrait.jpg 1919 1921
The Viscount Lee of Fareham Viscount Lee of Fareham.JPG 1921 1922
Leo Amery Leo Amery 1917.jpg 1922 1924
The Viscount Chelmsford 1stViscountChelmsford.jpg 1924 1924
William Bridgeman
(Viscount Bridgeman from 1929)
William Bridgeman.jpg 1924 1929
A. V. Alexander INF3-62 A V Alexander Artist's signature E A B.jpg 1929 1931
Sir Austen Chamberlain Laszlo - The Rt. Hon. Sir Austen Chamberlain.jpg 1931 1931
Sir Bolton Eyres-Monsell
(Viscount Monsell from 1935)
1931 1936
Sir Samuel Hoare, Bt Sir Samuel Hoare GGBain.jpg 1936 1937
Duff Cooper Duff Cooper 1941.jpg 1937 1938
The Earl Stanhope Stanhope7.JPG 1938 1939
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Churchill - 19086236948.jpg 1939 1940
A. V. Alexander INF3-62 A V Alexander Artist's signature E A B.jpg 1940 1945
Brendan Bracken Brendan Bracken 1947.jpg 1945 1945
A. V. Alexander INF3-62 A V Alexander Artist's signature E A B.jpg 1945 1946
The Viscount Hall George Henry Hall 1945.jpg 1946 1951
Lord Pakenham Lord Longford 4 Allan Warren.jpg 1951 1951
James Thomas
(Viscount Cilcennin from 1955)
1951 1956
The Viscount Hailsham Quintin Hogg, Baron Hailsham Allan Warren.jpg 1956 1957
The Earl of Selkirk 10thEarl of Selkirk.jpg 1957 1959
The Lord Carrington Peter Carington.PNG 1959 1963
The Earl Jellicoe George Jellicoe, 2nd Earl Jellicoe.jpg 1963 1964

Boards, departments and offices under the First Lord[edit]

Fictional First Lords[edit]

W. H. Smith portrayed in a Punch cartoon from 13 October 1877 when First Lord, saying: "I think I'll now go below." In Pinafore, Sir Joseph Porter similarly sings: "When the breezes blow / I generally go below".

The "Radical" First Lord, and a major character, in Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera H.M.S. Pinafore (1878), is Sir Joseph Henry Porter, KCB. W. S. Gilbert wrote to Arthur Sullivan he did not intend to portray the real-life then First Lord, the bookseller and newsagent W. H. Smith, a Conservative,[55] although some of the public, including Prime Minister Disraeli (who later referred to Smith as "Pinafore Smith"), identified Porter with him.[56] The counterparts shared a known lack of naval background. It has been suggested the character was drawn on Smith's actual "Radical" predecessor of 1868–71, Hugh Childers.[57]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Eberle, Sir James (2007). Wider horizons: naval policy & international affairs. Roundtuit Publishing. p. 1. ISBN 9781904499176. 
  2. ^ Pryde, E. B. (Feb 23, 1996). Handbook of British Chronology. Cambridge University Press. p. 135. ISBN 9780521563505. 
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  4. ^ Knighton, C. S.; Loades, David; Loades, Professor of History David (Apr 29, 2016). Elizabethan Naval Administration. Routledge. p. 8. ISBN 9781317145035. 
  5. ^ Hamilton, Admiral Sir. Richard. Vesey, G.C.B. (1896). Naval Administration: The Constitution, Character, and Functions of the Board of Admiralty, and of the Civil Departments it Directs. George Bell and Sons, London.  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  6. ^ Blake, Nicholas; Lawrence, Richard (2005). The Illustrated Companion to Nelson's Navy. Stackpole Books. p. 8. ISBN 9780811732758. 
  7. ^ Hamilton, Admiral Sir. Richard. Vesey, G.C.B. (1896). Naval Administration: The Constitution, Character, and Functions of the Board of Admiralty, and of the Civil Departments it Directs. George Bell and Sons, London.  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  8. ^ Constable, Archibald (1861). The Edinburgh Review, Or Critical Journal: ... To Be Continued Quarterly. Austrian National Library, 4 Nov 2013. p. 291. 
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Attribution[edit]

This article contains some text from: Vesey, Richard Sir, Admiral, (1896), Naval Administration: The Constitution, Character, and Functions of the Board of Admiralty, and of the Civil Departments it Directs, George Bell and Sons, London. Now in the public domain.

Sources[edit]

  • Hamilton, C. I. (2011). The Making of the Modern Admiralty: British Naval Policy-Making, 1805-1927. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521765183.
  • Rodger, N.A.M. The Admiralty (Lavenham, 1979)
  • Sainty, J. C. Admiralty Officials, 1660–1870 (London, 1975)

External links[edit]