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. 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.
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. 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.