Office of the Judge Advocate of the Fleet
Office of the Judge Advocate of the Fleet
Preceded by None
Department High Court of the Admiralty
Reports to Judge of the High Court of the Admiralty
Nominator First Lord of the Admiralty
Appointee Monarch of the England
Term Length Not fixed
First post holder J. Fowler
Final post holder J L Sessions
Formation 1660–2008
Succeeded by Judge Advocate General

The Judge Advocate of the Fleet was an appointed civilian judge who was responsible for the supervision and superintendence of the Royal Navy's court martial system in the Royal Navy from 1660 to 2008.

1) History

Early origins of the Judge Advocate of the Fleet are found in the role of the Lord High Admiral who became a permanent officer of state in the fifteenth century. This officer performed at sea the functions, which on foreign land and in military installations the Judge Martial discharged - referred to above. One of the Lord High Admiral’s roles was to pronounce and apply the laws of war at sea. Therefore, the origins of the ‘articles of war’ and courtsmartial at sea derive from his role. From 1660, the Judge Advocate of the Fleet took over this role. Appointments were by Admiralty Order and included an annual stipend worth £146 between 1663 and 1666, and £182 thereafter. From 1824 the Judge Advocate also held office as Counsel to the Admiralty. Until 2004 the Judge Advocate shared responsibility for the naval court martial system with the Chief Naval Judge Advocate, a legally trained serving naval officer who was responsible for the appointment of judge advocates. However the Chief Naval Judge Advocate's post was abolished in 2004 following a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that held that, as a serving naval officer, his position was insufficiently independent. The role of 'Judge Advocate of the Fleet was taken over by the Judge Advocate General from 2004 onwards. It was formally abolished on 31 December 2008 under the Armed Forces Act 2006.

2) Judge Advocates of the Fleet

  1. 1660 J. Fowler
  2. 1672 J. Brisbane
  3. 1680 H. Croone
  4. 1689 P. Foster
  5. 1689 F. Bacher
  6. 1690 Villiers Bathurst
  7. 1711 W. Strahan
  8. 1714 E. Honywood
  9. 1724 J. Copeland
  10. 1729 T. Hawes
  11. 1743 T. Kempe
  12. 1744 Charles Fearne
  13. 1768 George Jackson
  14. 1824 H. Twiss
  15. 1828 H. J. Shepherd
  16. 1845 R. Godson
  17. 1849 Richard Budden Crowder
  18. 1854 Thomas Phinn
  19. 1855 William Atherton
  20. 1859 Robert Collier, 1st Baron Monkswell
  21. 1863 Thomas Phinn
  22. 1866 John Walter Huddleston
  23. 1875–1904 Alexander Staveley Hill
  24. 1904–1924 Reginald Brodie Dyke Acland
  25. 1924-1933 Charles Murray Pitman
  26. 1933 J G Trapnell
  27. 1943 J Lhind Pratt
  28. 1945 Ewen Montagu
  29. 1973 William Howard
  30. 1986 Felix Waley
  31. 1995 J L Sessions
  32. 2004 Moribund
  33. 2008 Abolished

3) Sources

  2. 'Judge Advocate of the Fleet 1663-1870', in Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 4, Admiralty Officials 1660-1870, ed. J C Sainty (London, 1975), p. 80. British History Online [accessed 7 December 2018].
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