Accountant Branch

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Accountant Branch
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
CountryUnited Kingdom
BranchRoyal Navy
TypeNaval Branch
Part ofRoyal Navy
Garrison/HQPortsmouth, Hampshire, England
LastPaymaster Director-General

The Accountant Branch was also known as the Paymaster Branch was a branch of the Royal Navy from 1805 until 1944 when it was renamed the Supply and Secretariat Branch.


The origin of the Accountant Branch of the Royal Navy lays in the rank of Purser who was a specific warrant officer assigned to ships responsible for finance and accounting.[1] In 1849 the purser was granted Commissioned Officer status. In 1852 his title was changed to that of Paymaster, the same year an elevated rank of Paymaster-in-Chief was introduced who became head of the branch.[2] In 1918 a new head of the branch was introduced that Paymaster Director-General he held the rank of Paymaster Rear-Admiral. In October 1944 the Accountant Branch was renamed the Supply and Secretariat Branch. The term pay master was abolished and commissioned officers in the new branch became known as supply officers defined by the designation (S) for example Captain (S).[3]

Branch Colour (1863-1944)

In 1863 The Royal Navy introduced coloured cloth on to their uniforms in 1863, so that it was possible to distinguish between naval branches and admiralty departments. the accountant/paymaster branch colour was designated white.[4] The branch colour continued to be used by the Supply and Secretariat Branch until 1955 when, all distinguishing colours were abolished except for medical, dental, wardmaster officers and the Special Branch of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.[5]


To 1689

Accountant Branch 1837

1690 to 1842

Accountant Branch 1690 to 1842
Captains Clerk

1842 to 1852

Accountant Branch 1842 to 1852
Purser and Paymaster
Captains Clerk

1852 to 1855

Paymaster Branch 1852 to 1855
Passed Clerk

1855 to 1886

Paymaster Branch 1855 to 1886
Assistant Paymaster
Assistant Clerk

1886 to 1918

Paymaster Branch 1886 to 1918
Paymaster Director General
Fleet Paymaster
Staff Paymaster
Assistant Paymaster
Assistant Clerk

1918 to 1944

Paymaster Branch 1918 to 1944
Paymaster Rear-Admiral
Paymaster Captain
Paymaster Commander
Paymaster Lieutenant Commander
Paymaster Lieutenant
Paymaster Sub Lieutenant
Paymaster Midshipman
Paymaster Cadet

Development of Commissioned Officer Ranks

Development of Commissioned Officer Ranks
Pre 1690 1690-1852 1852 1855 1886 1909 1918 1944
Paymaster Director General Paymaster Director General Paymaster Rear-Admiral Rear-Admiral (S)
Paymaster-in-Chief Paymaster-in-Chief Paymaster-in-Chief Paymaster-in-Chief Paymaster Captain Captain (S)
Purser Purser Paymaster Paymaster Fleet Paymaster Fleet Paymaster Paymaster Commander Commander (S)
Staff Paymaster Staff Paymaster Paymaster Lieutenant Commander Lieutenant Commander (S)
Paymaster Paymaster Paymaster Lieutenant Lieutenant (S)
Captains Clerk Passed Clerk Passed Clerk Assistant Paymaster Assistant Paymaster Assistant Paymaster Paymaster Sub Lieutenant Sub Lieutenant (S)
Clerk Clerk Clerk Paymaster Midshipman Midshipman (S)
Assistant Clerk Assistant Clerk Assistant Clerk Paymaster Cadet Cadet (S)

Heads of the Accountant/Paymaster Branch 1832 to 1944

Heads of the Accountant Branch of the Royal Navy
No. Title and Style Highest Rank Held Term Notes and Ref
1. Paymaster of the Navy civilian 1852 to 1869
2. Paymaster-in-Chief Paymaster-Captain 1886 to 1918
3. Paymaster Director-General, Royal Navy Paymaster Rear-Admiral 1918 to 1944


  1. of the Royal Navy, National Museum. (2014). Information sheet no 096: Naval Ranks,. Library and Information Services. Portsmouth, England.
  2. National Museum of the Royal Navy.
  3. National Museum of the Royal Navy.
  4. Schliehauf, Bill (2007–2019). "RN Branch Colours". Mentzer, Plotke, Shackelford and Schliehauf,. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  5. "badge, rank, British, Royal Navy, medical branch, Surgeon Commander". Imperial War Museums. London,l England: Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 12 August 2019.


  1. Schliehauf, Bill (2007–2019). "RN Branch Colours". Mentzer, Plotke, Shackelford and Schliehauf,. Retrieved 12 August 2019.