Board Of Admiralty, In-Letters

The records were transferred to the Museum in 1938 by arrangement with the Admiralty. They consist of 324 volumes and 45 boxes of loose letters to the Board of Admiralty from subordinate boards, 1703 to 1832. The majority are letters from the Navy Board concerning the construction and fitting of ships, dockyard management, appointments, the settlement of accounts and naval finance, 1738 to 1832 (235 vols, classmarks ADM/B, ADM/BP, ADM/Y). There are also letters from the Victualling Board concerned with the problems of purchasing, packing and supplying provisions to ships, 1703 to 1714, 1714 to 1732, 1732 to 1769, 1787 to 1822 (51 vols, 34 boxes, ADM/D, ADM/DP); letters from the Sick and Hurt Board relating to the care and housing of sick and wounded seamen, 1742 to 1754, 1755 to 1764, 1794 to 1806 (37 vols, 11 boxes, ADM/F, ADM/FP).

Administrative / biographical background
The Admiralty Office obtained both a permanent site and a stable organizational structure at the end of the seventeenth century. In Pepys' time the office had been in his own home in York Buildings and from 1689 the clerks occupied temporary accommodation of various kinds, but from 1695 the Office occupied a building in Whitehall which was rebuilt between 1723 and 1725. This is the present Old Admiralty Building. It was from here that the Board of Admiralty directed naval affairs. Three members of the Board were required to sign all Board orders according to the Admiralty patent, although this was reduced to two in the nineteenth century. The Secretary was an important administrative figure from the early seventeenth century. For greater speed he often signed and dispatched orders on his own authority; sometimes these were followed, as soon as the Board met, by back-dated orders signed by the Lords Commissioners. Later the Secretary signed all routine orders, while the Commissioners' signatures were required only for important matters. Secretaries of the Admiralty included Samuel Pepys (1633-1703), Josiah Burchett (1666?-1746), Thomas Corbett (d.1751), Sir Philip Stephens (1725-1809) and John Wilson Croker (1780-1857). The Secretary was assisted by a clerical staff which grew steadily from the mid-seventeenth century. At the time of the Commonwealth there were only two salaried clerks; in 1702 there were nine and by 1800 there were twenty-four on the establishment. The judicial offices of the Court of Admiralty were of considerable antiquity and remained separate. A Marine department and Marine Pay department were founded in 1755 and a Naval Works department existed between 1796 and 1807.

Record Details

Item reference: ADM/B&BP&D&DP&F&FP; ADM
Catalogue Section: Public records: records of the central administration of the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy
Measurements: Overall: 32 m
Creator: Board of Admiralty
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

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