Victualling Board
Victualling Office
800px-Flag_of_the_Victualling_Office_Royal_Navy_1832.png
Type Government Office
Preceded by General-Surveyor of Victuals
Country United Kingdom
Founded 1653
Abolished 1832
Headquarters Somerset House, Whitehall, London, England
Role Victualling
Part of Department of Admiralty
Succeeded by Comptroller of Victualling and Transport Services

The Victualling Board also called the Victualling Office or theCommissioners for the Victualling of the Navy, was the body responsible under the Navy Board for victualling ships of the British Royal Navy. It oversaw the vast operation of providing naval personnel (140,000 men in 1810) with enough food, drink and supplies to keep them fighting fit, sometimes for months at a time, in whatever part of the globe they might be stationed. It existed from 1683 until 1832 when it was abolished. It was first replaced by the Office of Comptroller of Victualling and Transports until 1869 when that office was also abolished and replaced by the Victualling Department.

1) History

Under Elizabeth I, a General-Surveyor of Victuals had been appointed in 1550 a principal officer of the Navy Board to oversee contracts for food and other provisions for the Navy. In 1550 he was listed as one of the seven members of the Board of Principal Officers and Commissioners of the Navy; he was required to 'take care always to have in store a stock of victuals to supply a thousand men at sea for one month at a fortnight's notice'.] At first the Victualling Office was accommodated in the Tower of London, but it soon spread outside the precincts to the east (on to the site of the recently dissolved and demolished Abbey of St Mary Graces). The complex included storehouses, ovens, brewhouses and bakeries. (Milling took place across the river at Rotherhithe, and in 1650 a slaughterhouse was acquired in Deptford). Officials of the Victualling Board were to remain accommodated here until the nineteenth century; however, the constraints of the site (and difficult riverside access) led to the establishment of a new manufacturing facility at the Deptford site (the future Deptford Victualling Yard) in 1672.

By the mid-seventeenth century the established arrangement was for a single contractor to be engaged to make all necessary victualling provisions, with the Navy Board laying down strict criteria on the quality of the provisions it required. In the 1660s, Samuel Pepys, who was then Clerk of the Acts of the Navy, reformed the system of having a Purser assigned to each ship to oversee the distribution of supplies, and obliged each one to lodge a cash surety, and to keep complete accounts of every item issued. By the time of the Anglo-Dutch Wars, however, the system was breaking down (the government complaining that sufficient provisions had not been delivered, and the contractor complaining that payment had not been made). As a result of this, a salaried Board of Commissioners was established in 1683, and this body retained oversight of victualling for the next 150 years.

Though nominally under the direction of the Navy Board (which had its headquarters nearby on Tower Hill), the Victualling Board was effectively independent. The Victualling Board took over certain functions, including medical services, from the Transport Board on its dissolution in 1817. The Victualling Board itself was abolished in the Admiralty reforms of 1832, victualling then became the responsibility of the Comptroller of Victualling and Transports, who was superintended by the Fourth Sea Lord. In 1862 transport duties passed to a separate Transport Department and in 1869 the office of Comptroller of Victualling was abolished. His former duties were divided between the newly formed Contract and Purchase Department, under the Parliamentary and Financial Secretary, which became responsible for purchasing, management of the victualling stores facilities were under the control of the Superintendent of Victualling and the Victualling Department under the control of the Director of Victualling.

2) Structure of the Board.

On the Board, each Commissioner had responsibility for a key area of victualling activity: the Brewhouse department, the Cutting House department, the Dry Goods department, Cooperage, Hoytaking and Stores. There were seven Commissioners; the aforementioned six, plus the Chairman (who had direct oversight of the Cash department). The Victualling Board proceeded to build breweries, slaughterhouses, mills and bakeries near to the Royal Navy Dockyards to provide beer, salted meat, ship's biscuits and other supplies under its own quality control. In 1725, the Victualling Commissioners, the Navy Board, the Sick and Hurt Commissioners and the Navy Pay Office all moved into new accommodation in Somerset House.

2.1) Principal Officers and Commissioners of the Victualling Board

2.1.1) Chairman of the Victullling Board

  1. 1803-1808 John Marsh
  2. 1808-1821 Thomas Welsh
  3. 1821-1822 John Clarke Searle
  4. 1822-1832 Hon. Granville Anson Chetwynd Stapylton

2.1.2) Deputy Chairman of the Victualling Board

  1. 1803-1822, George Philips Towry
  2. 1822-1823, Hon. Courtenay Boyle
  3. 1823-1832, John Wolley

2.1.3) Comptrollers of the Victualling Board

  1. Comptroller of the Brew House
  2. Comptroller of the Cutting House
  3. Comptroller of Dry Goods
  4. Comptroller of Copperage
  5. Comptroller of Hoytaking
  6. Comptroller of Victualling Stores

2.1.4) Victualling Commissioners

  1. 1683-1690. Nicholas Fenn
  2. 1683—1690. Sir Richard Haddock
  3. 1683-1690. John Parsons
  4. 1683-1690. Anthony Sturt
  5. 1690-1693. James How
  6. 1690-1699. John Agar
  7. 1690-1699 Humphrey Ayles
  8. 1690-1702. Thomas Papillion
  9. 1690-1702 Simon Mayne
  10. 1693-1695. Israel Fielding
  11. 1695-1702 John Burrington
  12. 1699-1711 Thomas Colby
  13. 1699-1711. Henry Vincent
  14. 1702 Sir John Houblon Kt.
  15. 1702 William Carpenter
  16. 1702-1703 William Wright
  17. 1702-1704 John James
  18. 1702-1706 Abraham Tilghman
  19. 1703-1705 Thomas Jennings
  20. 1704-1706 Samuel Hunter
  21. 1704-1706 Henry Lee
  22. 1704-1714 Kenrick Edisbury
  23. 1705-1711 Thomas Harlow
  24. 1706-1711 Denzil Onslow
  25. 1706-1711 Thomas Reynolds
  26. 1706-1725 Thomas Bere
  27. 1711-1714 Henry Lee
  28. 1711-1714 Sir Francis Marsham 3rd Bart
  29. 1711-1718 Henry Vincent
  30. 1711-1721 Samuel Hunter
  31. 1712-1714 William Stephens
  32. 1714-1717 Waller Bacon
  33. 1714-1719 Robert Arris
  34. 1714-1721 Denzil Onslow
  35. 1714-1721 Thomas Reynolds
  36. 1714-1723 Peter Jeyes
  37. 1717-1720 Own Buckingham
  38. 1718-1720 Edward Eliot
  39. 1719-1728 William Passenger
  40. 1720-1721 Joshua Churchill
  41. 1720-1727 Henry Cartwright
  42. 1721-1722 Hugh Cholmley
  43. 1721-1727 Sir George Saunders Kt.
  44. 1721-1734 William Fisher
  45. 1722-1727 Stephen Bisse
  46. 1725-1729 George Huxley
  47. 1725-1733 Edward Trelawny
  48. 1727-1728 Sprig Manesty
  49. 1727-1739 Henry Parsons
  50. 1728-1734 John Berkeley
  51. 1728-1747 Thomas Revell
  52. 1729-1744 William Thompson
  53. 1729-1747 Thomas Brereton
  54. 1733-1738 George Crowle
  55. 1734-1742 Francis Eyles (later Eyles Stiles)
  56. 1734-1746 Stephen Bisse
  57. 1738-1748 William Hay
  58. 1741-1744 Thomas Trefusis
  59. 1742 -1752 Richard Hall
  60. 1742-1755 Thomas Cooper
  61. 1744-1748 William Davies
  62. 1745-1746 Arthur Stert
  63. 1746-1747 John Russell
  64. 1746-1778 James Wallace
  65. 1747-1760 William Jenkins
  66. 1747-1761 Francis Vernon
  67. 1747-1762 Sir Francis Haskins, 3rd Bart
  68. 1747-1765 Hon. Horatio Townsend
  69. 1748-1752 Tyrwhitt Cayley
  70. 1752 Thomas Winterbottom
  71. 1752-1780 Sir Roger Burgoyne (Bart)
  72. 1755-1776 Robert Pett
  73. 1760-1763 Robert Rule
  74. 1761-1768 Tyringham Stephens
  75. 1762-1784 Jonas Hanway
  76. 1763-1772 George Marsh
  77. 1765-1767 James Fortrey
  78. 1767-1794 Alexander Chorley
  79. 1768-1780 Thomas Colby
  80. 1772-1776 William Gordon
  81. 1776-1778 Henry Pelham
  82. 1776-1785 Joah Bates
  83. 1778-1787 James Kirke
  84. 1778-1789 John Slade
  85. 1781-1786 Montagu Burgoyne
  86. 1781-1790 William Lance
  87. 1784-1803 George Phillips Towry
  88. 1785-1799 George Cherry
  89. 1785-1811 William Boscawen
  90. 1787-1793 Samuel Marshall
  91. 1789-1790 William Bellingham
  92. 1790-1798 Joseph Hunt
  93. 1790-1805 Francis Stephens
  94. 1793-1796 Francis John Hartwell
  95. 1794-1809 Sadleir Mood
  96. 1796-1803 Hon John Rodney
  97. 1798-1803 John Marsh
  98. 1799-1807 John Harrison
  99. 1803-1806 Charles Cunningham
  100. 1805-1808 William Budge
  101. 1807-1822 Thomas Welsh
  102. 1808-1822 John Aubin
  103. 1808-1831 Nicholas Brown
  104. 1809-1813 Hon. Edward Richard Stewart
  105. 1811-1832 Frederick Edgcumbe
  106. 1813-1825 Robert William Hay
  107. 1817-1831 John Weir
  108. 1821-1827 Richard Creyke
  109. 1821-1832 Henry Garrett
  110. 1822-1832 Sir William Burnett Kt. (ktd. 25 May 1831)
  111. 1825-1829 Hon. William Lennox Bathurst
  112. 1827-1832 Sir James Alexander, Gordon Kt.
  113. 1827-1832 John Hill
  114. 1831-1832 John Thomas Briggs
  115. 1839-1832 James Meek .

3) Departments and Offices

  1. Brew-House Department (1683 – 1832)
  2. Cutting-House Department, (1683 – 1832)
  3. Dry Goods Department, (1683 – 1832)
  4. Cash Department (-1832)
  5. Copperage Department, 1683 – 1832)
  6. Hoytaking Department, (1683 – 1832)
  7. Victualling Stores Department, (1683 – 1832)

4) Victualling Yards

Home Victualling Yards

  1. Commissioner, Victualling Yard Deptford, (1683-1832)
  2. Commissioner, Victualling Yard Dover, (1683-1831)
  3. Commissioner, Victualling Yard, Harwich, (1683-1832)
  4. Commissioner, Victualling Yard, Haulbowline, (1683-1832)
  5. Commissioner, Victualling Yard, Portsmouth, (1683-1826)
  6. Commissioner, Victualling Yard, Plymouth, (1683-1825)
  7. Commissioner, Royal Clarence Victualling Yard, Gosport (1683-1832)
  8. Commissioner, Royal William Victualling Yard, Plymouth, (1683-1832)

Overseas Victualling Yards

  1. Commissioner, Victualling Yard, Jamica, (1683-1832)
  2. Commissioner, Victualling Yard, Malta, (1683-1832)
  3. Commissioner, Victualling Yard, Rio de Janeiro, (1683-1832)
  4. Commissioner, Victualling Yard, Cape of Good Hope, (1704-1832)
  5. Commissioner, Victualling Yard, Heligoland, (1704-1832)
  6. Commissioner, Victualling Yard, Gibraltar, (1704-1832)
  7. Commissioner, Victualling Yard Antigua, (1723-1832)
  8. Commissioner, Victualling Yard Bermuda, (1723-1832)

5) Timeline

Note: Below is a timeline of responsibility for victualling for the Royal Navy.

  1. Navy Board, Surveyor of Marine Victuals, 1550-1679
  2. Navy Board, Victualling Board (Board of Victualling Commissioners), 1683-1832
  3. Board of Admiralty, Comptroller of Victualling and Transport Services, 1832-1862
  4. Board of Admiralty, Comptroller of Victualling, 1862-1870
  5. Board of Admiralty, Contract and Purchase Department, 1869-1964
  6. Board of Admiralty, Superintendent of Victualling, 1870-1878
  7. Board of Admiralty, Director of Victualling, 1878-1964

6) Sources

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victualling_Commissioners
  2. Sainty. J. C. (2003), https://www.history.ac.uk/publications/office/comms-victual

7) Attribution

  1. Flag of the Victualling Board: by Navops47 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_of_the_Victualling_Office_Royal_Navy_1832.png
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