Office of the First Lord of the Admiralty
Office of the First Lord of the Admiralty
Preceded by Office of the Lord High Admiral
Department Department of Admiralty
Reports to Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Nominator Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Appointee Monarch of the United Kingdom
Term Length Not fixed
First post holder Vice-Admiral Robert Hall
Final post holder Vice-Admiral Robert Hall
Formation 1872–1882
Succeeded by Secretary of State for Defence

The First Lord of the Admiralty, or formally the Office of the First Lord of the Admiralty was the British government's senior adviser on all naval affairs and the minister responsible for the direction and control of the Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office later the Department of Admiralty as well as general administration of the HM 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, and War Office were all merged to into an enlarged Ministry of Defence in 1964. The office holders Chief Naval Adviser was the First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff.

1) History

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. 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. 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, 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. From the early 1800s the post was always held by a civilian (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.[7]

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 14 January 1869,[8] and a later Order (19 March 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,[9] and by specifically defining their duties, this 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. 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.

3) First Lords of the Admiralty of England (1628–1701)

  1. The Earl of Portland, (1628-1635)
  2. The Earl of Lindsey, (1635-1636)
  3. William Juxon, Bishop of Lincoln, (1636-1638)
  4. The Earl of Northumberland (Lord High Admiral 1638–1642), (1642-1643)
  5. The Lord Cottington, (1643-1646)
  6. Sir Henry Capell, (1679-1681)
  7. The Earl of Nottingham, (1681-1684)
  8. The Earl of Torrington , (Lord High Admiral 1689), (1689-1690)
  9. The Earl of Pembroke, (1690-1692)
  10. The Lord Cornwallis, (1692-1693)
  11. The Viscount Falkland, (1693-1694)
  12. The Earl of Orford, (1694-1699)
  13. The Earl of Bridgewater, (1699-1701)
  14. The Earl of Pembroke, (1701-1702)

4) First Lords of the Admiralty of Great Britain (1709–1801)

  1. The Earl of Orford, (1709-1710)
  2. Sir John Leake, (1710-1712)
  3. The Earl of Strafford, (1712-1714)
  4. The Earl of Orford, (1714-1717)
  5. The Earl of Berkeley, (1717-1727)
  6. The Viscount Torrington, (1727-1733)
  7. Sir Charles Wager, (1733-1742)
  8. The Earl of Winchilsea, (1742-1744)
  9. The Duke of Bedford, (1744-1748)
  10. The Earl of Sandwich, (1748-1751)
  11. The Lord Anson, (1751-1756)
  12. The Earl Temple, (1756-1757)
  13. The Earl of Winchilsea, (1757-1757)
  14. The Lord Anson, (1757-1762)
  15. The Earl of Halifax, (1762-1762)
  16. Hon. George Grenville, (1762-1763)
  17. The Earl of Sandwich, (1763-1763)
  18. The Earl of Egmont, (1763-1766)
  19. Sir Charles Saunders, (1766-1766)
  20. Sir Edward Hawke, (1766-1771)
  21. The Earl of Sandwich, (1771-1782)
  22. The Viscount Keppel, (1782-1783)
  23. The Viscount Howe, (1783-1783)
  24. The Viscount Keppel, (1783-1783)
  25. The Viscount Howe, (1783-1788)
  26. The Earl of Chatham, (1788-1794)
  27. The Earl Spencer, (1794-1801)

5) First Lords of the Admiralty of the United Kingdom (1801–1964)

  1. The Earl of St Vincent, (1801-1804)
  2. The Viscount Melville, (1804-1805)
  3. The Lord Barham, (1805-1806)
  4. Viscount Howick, (1806-1806)
  5. Thomas Grenville, (1806-1807)
  6. The Lord Mulgrave, (1807-1810)
  7. Charles Philip Yorke, (1810-1812)
  8. The Viscount Melville, (1812-1827)
  9. The Viscount Melville, (1828-1830)
  10. Sir James Graham, Bt, (1830-1834)
  11. The Lord Auckland, (1834-1834)
  12. The Earl de Grey, (1834-1835)
  13. The Lord Auckland, (1835-1835)
  14. The Earl of Minto, (1835-1841)
  15. The Earl of Haddington, (1841-1846)
  16. The Earl of Ellenborough, (1846-1846)
  17. The Earl of Auckland, (1846-1849)
  18. Sir Francis Baring, Bt, (1849-1852)
  19. The Duke of Northumberland, (1852-1852)
  20. Sir James Graham, Bt, (1852-1855)
  21. Sir Charles Wood, Bt, (1855-1858)
  22. Sir John Pakington, Bt, (1858-1859)
  23. The Duke of Somerset, (1859-1866)
  24. Sir John Pakington, Bt, (1866-1867)
  25. Hon. Henry Lowry-Corry, (1867-1868)
  26. Hugh Childers, (1868-1871)
  27. George Goschen, (1871-1874)
  28. George Ward Hunt, (1874-1877)
  29. W. H. Smith, (1877-1880)
  30. The Earl of Northbrook, (1880-1885)
  31. Lord George Hamilton, (1885-1886)
  32. The Marquess of Ripon, (1886-1886)
  33. Lord George Hamilton, (1886-1892)
  34. The Earl Spencer, (1892-1895)
  35. George Goschen, (1895-1900)
  36. The Earl of Selborne, (1900-1905)
  37. The Earl Cawdor, (1905-1905)
  38. The Lord Tweedmouth, (1905-1908)
  39. Reginald McKenna, (1908-1911)
  40. Winston Churchill, (1911-1915)
  41. Arthur Balfour, (1915-1916)
  42. Sir Edward Carson, (1916-1917)
  43. Sir Eric Geddes, (1917-1919)
  44. Walter Long, (1919-1921)
  45. The Viscount Lee of Fareham, (1921-1922)
  46. Leo Amery, (1922-1924)
  47. The Viscount Chelmsford, (1924-1924)
  48. William Bridgeman , (Viscount Bridgeman from 1929), (1924-1929)
  49. A. V. Alexander, (1929-1931)
  50. Sir Austen Chamberlain, (1931-1931)
  51. Sir Bolton Eyres-Monsell, (Viscount Monsell from 1935), (1931-1936)
  52. Sir Samuel Hoare, Bt, (1936-1937)
  53. Duff Cooper, (1937-1938)
  54. The Earl Stanhope, (1938-1939)
  55. Winston Churchill, (1939-1940)
  56. A. V. Alexander, (1940-1945)
  57. Brendan Bracken, (1945-1945)
  58. A. V. Alexander, (1945-1946)
  59. The Viscount Hall, (1946-1951)
  60. Lord Pakenham, (1951-1951)
  61. James Thomas, # (Viscount Cilcennin from 1955), (1951-1956)
  62. The Viscount Hailsham, (1956-1957)
  63. The Earl of Selkirk, (1957-1959)
  64. The Lord Carrington, (1959-1963)
  65. The Earl Jellicoe, (1963-1964)

6) Duties and Responsibilities

At various times from 1800 to 1918

  1. Appointments to Commands. .
  2. Appointment of Chaplains and Naval Instructors.
  3. Appointments of Flag Officers, Captains, Officers Commanding Ships, Commanders to Coast Guard, Inspectors and Deputy Inspectors of Hospitals and holding Civil Appointments.
  4. Appointment of Flag Officers and Officers in Command, including Engineer Rear-Admirals, Surgeons-General, and Staff Appointments of Royal Marines.
  5. Appointments and Promotions—Private Office.
  6. Board of Admiralty Questions..
  7. Civil Appointments
  8. Civil Appointments and Promotions, except as provided under Controller and Civil Lord.
  9. Civil Appointments and Promotions (higher posts).
  10. Foreign Navies and Intelligence.
  11. General Direction and Supervision of members of the Board
  12. General Direction and Supervision of all business relating to the Navy. Political and Board Questions..
  13. Harbours of Refuge.
  14. Honours and Distinctions.
  15. Mersey Conservancy.
  16. Naval Cadetships and Nominations to Assistant Clerkships, R.N..
  17. Navy Estimates and Financial Questions.
  18. New Works.
  19. Political Questions.
  20. Promotions.
  21. Promotions and Removals from the Service of Naval and Marine Officers. Honours and Rewards.
  22. Railways.
  23. Royal Yachts, including Appointment of all Officers.
  24. Royal yachts, and Admiralty Yacht, including Appointment of all Officers.
  25. Slave Trade.

7) Boards, Departments and Offices supervised by the First Lord

  1. Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office, (1628–1709)
  2. Department of Admiralty, (1709–1964)
  3. Board of Admiralty, (1628–1964)
  4. Navy Board, (1628–1832)
  5. Sick and Hurt Board, (1653–1806)
  6. Transport Board, (1690–1724, 1794–1817)
  7. Victualling Board, (1683–1832)
  8. Department of the Civil Lord of the Admiralty
  9. Department of the Additional Civil Lord of the Admiralty
  10. Office of the Senior Naval Lord, (1689–1771)
  11. Office of the First Naval Lord, (1771–1904)
  12. Office of the First Sea Lord, (1904–1917)
  13. Office of the First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, (1917–1964)
  14. Office of the Private Secretary to the First Lord of the Admiralty, (1800–1910)
  15. Office of the Naval Secretary, (1910–1964)
  16. Office of the Naval Secretary to the Board of Admiralty
  17. Office of the Secretary to the Admiralty, (1660–1763)
  18. Office of the First Secretary to the Admiralty, (1763–1871)
  19. Office of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty, (1871–1886)
  20. Department of the Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty, (1886–1959)
  21. Office of the Second Secretary to the Admiralty
  22. Department of the Permanent Secretary to the Admiralty, (1882-1964)

7) Sources

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