Admiralty Office
Admiralty Office
Type Government Office and Military Command
Preceded by Regional Admiralty's
Country Kingdom of England
Founded 1414
Abolished 1546
Headquarters London, England
Head Lord Admiral of England
Deputy head Vice-Admiral of England
Role Naval Administration, Law and Operations
Affiliations English Navy]
Part of Privy Council of England
Sub-component Offices of the Clerks of the Kings Marine (1320-1545)
Sub-component Council of the Marine (1545-1546)
Succeeded by Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office

The Admiralty Office was the government office of the Kingdom of England responsible for the administration of the English Navy]. The office was administered by the Lord Admiral of England from 1414 to 1546 when it was replaced by the Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office.

1) History

In 1364 the Northern and Western admiralty's and fleets are unified commanded by the Admiral of the North and West, and remain so on an adhoc basis until 1414. Dealing with the matter of naval administration during the 15th century the most significant development was the establishment of the first Admiralty of England this was gradually brought about between 1408 and 1414 when the remaining regional-admiralty's the Northern Admiralty, and Western Admiralty were unfied to create the Northern and Western Admiralty. In 1414 the last of these regional admiralty's were abolished and their functions were unified under a single administrative and operational command called the Admiralty Office . In 1546 it was renamed the Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office.

2) Organization

2.1) Direction, Operations and Policy

Senior Leadership during this period included a single naval lord of England the Lord Admiral he was responsible for formulating naval policy, directing the navy and operations. Below him were his two deputy's the Vice-Admiral of England responsible for naval operations and judicial administration together with the Lieutenant of the Admiralty in charge of civil administration of the navy. Below them sat the various operational commanders, the shore based commanders, the offices of the clerks of the kings marine, then later the council of the marine, the high court of the admiralty, the vice-admiralty courts and admiralty law system.

2.2) Office of the High Admiral/Lord Admiral of England

  1. Office of the High Admiral of England, Ireland and Aquitaine, (1360-1513)
  2. Office of the Lord Admiral of England, (1513-1610)

Immediately below the High/Lord Admiral of England initially were the four admirals commanding regional admiralties until their offices were unified with his office to create a single centralized command in 1414, In 1410 preempting the abolition of the regional admirals a deputy commander-in-chief was created the Vice-Admiral of England.

2.2.1) Office of the Vice-Admiral of England

  1. Office of the Vice-Admiral of England, (1410-1707)
2.3.1) Operational Commands
  1. Admiral Commanding, Northern Admiralty, (1294-1412) admiralty is abolished
  2. Admiral Commanding, Northern and Western Admiralty, (1364-1414), admiralty is abolished
  3. Admiral Commanding, Western Admiralty, (1294-1412), admiralty is abolished
  4. Admiral Vice -Admiral Commanding, Narrow Seas Station, (1412-1688)
  5. Admiral/Vice-Admiral Commanding, Channel Station. (1512-1657)
  6. Admiral Vice -Admiral Commanding, North Sea Station, (1543–1815)
2.4.1) Shore commands

The Vice-Admiralties of the Coast were official posts established in maritime counties of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales . The officer holders, designated as "Vice-Admirals", were chiefly responsible for naval and judicial administration for their county and including defence of their county, they were deputy shore commanders of the Lord High Admiral . There were twenty six Vice-Admiralties responsible for England , five Vice-Admiralties responsible for Ireland, three Vice-Admiralties responsible for Scotland and six Vice-Admiralties responsible for Wales.

  1. Office's of the Vice-Admiralties of the Coast, (1536-1890)

3) Civil administration, finance and logistical support

The Clerks of the Kings Marine were responsible for the Civil administration of the Navy, this included superintending dockyards and facilities, shipbuilding and repairs and victualling of the navy. Until 1545 there were four separate post holders that were collectively brought together to form the Council of the Marine three more officials each designated specialist roles were added making a total of seven he were styled as Chief Officers of the Admiralty.

3.1) Offices of the Clerks of the Kings Marine

  1. Offices of the Clerks of the Kings Marine, (1320-1545)

3.2) Council of the Marine

  1. Council of the Marine, (1546-1576)
3.2.1) Dockyards and shore facilities

The main naval dockyards constructed during the period the admiralty office was in operation included. Management of the various yards was the responsibility of the various Master-Shipwrights until the introduction of resident Commissioners of the Navy in the early seventeenth century, the Master Shipwright then became their deputy.

  1. Portsmouth Dockyard (1496 – present)
  2. Woolwich Dockyard (1512 – 1869)
  3. Deptford Dockyard (1513 – 1869)
  4. Erith Dockyard (1514 – 1521), failed yard: due to persistent flooding

4) Navy Pay Office

The Navy Pay Office was established in 1545 it was administered by the Treasurer of Marine Causes later known as the Treasurer of the Navy the pay office was autonomous of the council of the marine and later Navy Office.

5) Office of Ordnance

The Office of Ordnance was created in 1460 headed by the Master of Ordnance it later became known as the Board of Ordnance it was autonomous of the Admiralty Office but was responsible for managing ordnance stores and supplying the navy with weapons and gunpowder.

6) Board of Ordnance

The Board of Ordnance was established in 1597 that consisted of principle officers headed by the Master-General of the Ordnance. Autonomous of the Admiralty Office it became a civil department of state in 1683. Below the board sat the various ordnance yards, gunpowder and magazine stores that were usually alongside the major naval dockyards

6.1) Ordnance Yards and Stores

Home ordinance yards

  1. HM Gunwharf Portsmouth (1496 – present)
  2. HM Gunwharf Woolwich (1512 – 1869)
  3. HM Gunwharf Deptford (1513 – 1869)
  4. HM Gunwharf Erith (1514 – 1521)

Gunpowder magazines stores

  1. Tower of London, London (1461 – 1855)

7) Armoury Office

The Armoury Office was established in 1423 it was part of the supply chain of armour and edged weapons to the armed forces but was autonomous from the Office of Ordnance. In 1671 the Armoury Office was abolished and its duties transferred to the Board of Ordnance.

8) Judicial administration

At first there were three separate Admiralty courts (each with a presiding admiral) for three different sections of the country each responsible for judicial administration of the navy, but these were merged into one high Admiralty court in 1360 the court was initially administered by the High Admiral of England until the creation of the office of the Vice-Admiral of England in 1410 who became the High Admiral's deputy he then presided over the court system directly until 1483 when a Chief Judge of the high court was appointed responsible for the day-today proceedings of the court. The Vice-Admiral of England remained responsible for the direction of the high court and the chief judge and for all future appointments of the judge.

8.1) High Court of the Admiralty

The High Court of the Admiralty consisted of the office of the Chief Judge who was supported by various officials known as officers of the High Court of the Admiralty they included the Admiralty Advocate, the Marshall, the Notary Public, the Proctor, the Receiver of Droits and the Registrar.

  1. High Court of the Admiralty
8.2) Vice Admiralty Courts

Until 1835 there were local courts of admiralty in the maritime counties of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. In addition there were also Vice-Admiralty Courts established in colonial possessions these Vice Admiralty Courts were juryless courts located in British colonies that were granted jurisdiction over local legal matters related to maritime activities, such as disputes between merchants and seamen.

  1. Vice-Admiralty Courts
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