Office of the Surveyor of the Navy
Office of the Surveyor of the Navy
Preceded by Surveyor and Rigger of the Navy
Department Department of Admiralty
Reports to First Lord of the Admiralty
Nominator First Lord of the Admiralty
Appointee Monarch of the England
Term Length Not fixed
First post holder Benjamin Gonson
Final post holder Vice-Admiral Sir Robert Robinson
Formation 1546–1869
Succeeded by Third Naval Lord & Controller of the Navy

The Surveyor of the Navy and originally known as Surveyor and Rigger of the Navy was a former principle commissioner and member of both the Navy Board from the inauguration of that body in 1546 until its abolition in 1832 and then a member Board of Admiralty from 1848-1859. In 1860 the office was renamed Controller of The Navy until 1869 when the office was merged with that of the Third Naval Lord's the post holder held overall responsibility for the design of British warships.

1) History

The office was established in 1546 under Henry VIII of England when the post holder was styled as Surveyor and Rigger of the Navy until 1611. Although until 1745 the actual design work for warships built at each Royal Dockyard was primarily the responsibility of the individual Master Shipwright at that Royal Dockyard. For vessels built by commercial contract (limited to wartime periods, when the Royal Dockyards could not cope with the volume of work), the Surveyor's office drew the designs to which the private shipbuilders were required to build the vessels. From 1745 design responsibility was centred in the Surveyor's office, with the Master Shipwrights in the Dockyard responsible for implementation. In 1832 the Navy Board was abolished and all of its functions were brought under the sole control of the Board of Admiralty. Before 1832 the building, fitting out and repairing of HM ships were the responsibility of the Navy Board. Originally the principal officer most concerned was the Surveyor of the Navy, who estimated annual stores requirements, inspected ships' stores and kept the Fleet's store-books and repair-bills. In the eighteenth century his duties passed increasingly to the Comptroller of the Navy. The office of Surveyor did not disappear, however, and after 1832, when the office of Comptroller was abolished, the Surveyor was made the officer responsible under the First Sea Lord for the material departments, and became a permanent member of the Board of Admiralty in 1848. In 1859 the name of the office was changed to Controller of the Navy until 1869 when the office was amalgamated with the office of the Third Naval Lord.

2) Key Officials

In date order (note that the post of Surveyor was frequently shared, which enabled the Admiralty to have competitive designs prepared for evaluation). In 1859 the title of Surveyor of the Navy was changed to Controller of the Navy. In 1869 the office of Controller of the Navy's post was merged with the office of the Third Naval Lord.

2.1) Surveyor and Rigger of the Navy

  1. Benjamin Gonson 24 April 1546.
  2. Vice-Admiral, Sir Thomas Spert, 1524-1540
  3. Sir William Wynter 8 July 1549.
  4. Sir Henry Palmer 11 July 1589.
  5. Sir John Trevor 20 December 1598 -1611

2.2) Surveyor of the Navy

  1. Sir Richard Bingley 1611-1619.
  2. Thomas Norreys 1619-1625.
  3. Joshua Downing 1625-1628.
  4. Sir Thomas Aylesbury 1628-1632
  5. Kenrick Edisbury 1632-1638
  6. William Batten 1638-1649
  7. John Holland 1649-1654
  8. George Payler 1654-1660
  9. Sir William Batten 1660-1667
  10. Thomas Middleton 1667-1672
  11. Sir John Tippetts 1672-1692
  12. Edmund Dummer 1692-1699
  13. Daniel Furzer 1699-1706
  14. Daniel Furzer and William Lee (jointly)1706-1704
  15. Daniel Furzer (alone) 1714-1715
  16. Jacob Acworth 6 April 1715-1745
  17. Sir Jacob Acworth and Joseph Allin (jointly) 1745-1749
  18. Joseph Allin (alone) 1749-1755
  19. Thomas Slade and William Bately (jointly) 1755-1756
  20. Thomas Slade and John Williams (jointly) 1765-1771
  21. John Williams (alone) 22 February 1771-1778
  22. Sir John Williams and Edward Hunt (jointly) 1778-1784
  23. Edward Hunt and John Henslow (jointly) 1784-1786
  24. John Henslow (alone) 7 December 1786-1793
  25. John Henslow and William Rule (jointly) 1793-1806
  26. Sir William Rule and Henry Peake (jointly) 1806-1813
  27. Joseph Tucker and Sir Robert Seppings (jointly) 1813-1831
  28. Sir Robert Seppings (alone) 1831-1832
  29. Sir William Symonds, 1832-1848
  30. Sir Baldwin Wake Walker 1848-1859

2.3) Controller of the Navy

  1. Rear-Admiral Sir Baldwin Wake Walker, 1859–1861
  2. Vice-Admiral Sir Robert Robinson, 1861–1869

3) Timeline

  1. Navy Board, Surveyor of the Navy, 1546-1832
  2. Board of Admiralty, Surveyor of the Navy, 1832-1859
  3. Board of Admiralty, Controller of the Navy, 1859-1912
  4. Board of Admiralty, Directorate of Naval Construction, 1913-1958
  5. Board of Admiralty, Ship Department, Naval Construction Division, 1959-1964

4) Sources

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