Civil Lord of the Admiralty

From Naval History Archive
Jump to navigationJump to search
Civil Lord of the Admiralty
Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and HM Government.png
Member ofBoard of Admiralty
Reports toFirst Lord of the Admiralty
AppointerFirst Lord of the Admiralty
Term lengthNot fixed (typically 3–7 years)
Inaugural holderCharles Ross

The Civil Lord of the Admiralty was a member of the Board of Admiralty who was responsible for managing the Royal Navy's supporting civilian staff, the works and buildings departments and naval lands from 1830 to 1964. They were responsible for the superintendence of the Department of the Civil Lord of the Admiralty.


From 1709 the board of admiralty usually had a minimum of two Civil Lord Commissioners, however, there was not a settled arrangement for the distribution of duties amongst the members of the Board. In 1805 the First Lord of the Admiralty Charles Middleton, the Lord Barham, began a period of reform of the commissioners responsibilities during his tenure.[1] He initially gave a new name to the Naval Lord Commissioners now referred to as "Professional Naval Lords", whilst the Civil Lords were given the duty of signing off all official documents.

In 1830 when Sir James Graham, 2nd Baronet was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty he also underwent further re-organising of the board following the abolition of the Navy Board each of the members were given particular responsibility for different areas of naval administration from this year it was fixed in principle that, other than the First Lord, there should be four Naval Lords; and one Civil Lord who was added in 1832. This arrangement was subject to minor variations. In 1834-5 there were three Naval and two Civil Lords.[2]

Between 1830 and 1868 he had main responsibility for Naval Finance, this however changed when Parliamentary Secretary was re-designated the Parliamentary and Financial Secretary.[3] In January 1869 the civil lord through an order in Order in Council [4] was designated an assistant to the First Lord of the Admiralty. These orders usually had a much wider remit in that they outlined the general regulations of governance of the Naval Service.

In March 1872 another order in council [5] was issued this time the civil lord would have specific duties assigned to them by the First Lord defining on this occasion the structure of the board. In 1874 the civil lord was given much wider powers. Exceptional changes to these rules meant that during wartime periods additional civil lords (though not officially styled so until after 1882) were added to the board to ease the burden of workload on the Civil Lord. The office existed until 1964 when the Admiralty was abolished and replaced by the Navy Department within a new Ministry of Defence.


The Civil Lord assisted the First Lord in political and parliamentary duties, between 1830 and 1964 his remit changed from time to time but generally included the following responsibilities:[6][7]

  • Deal with all special questions relating to the retirements, pay, and allowances of naval and marine officers and men.
  • Direct Civil Engineering Works.
  • Manage all Admiralty buildings including repairs and the construction as well as the storing of building materials that were within the Works Department.
  • Manage business within the Greenwich Hospital Department.
  • Manage compassionate allowances, the admiralty charitable fund, the allowances to ministers of religion, the various Dockyard and Marine Schools.
  • Manage leasing arrangements in regards to coastguard stations.
  • Superintendence of all Admiralty works and labour services.
  • Superintend all civilian staff at naval establishments, including: classifications, appointments, promotions, pay, allowances, and pensions, excluding appointments and promotions in London, and of professional officers of the Controller's Department of Dockyards.
  • Superintends the Contracts Department.
  • Superintends the Department of the Accountant General of the Navy. (in 1932 this department is abolished its financial functions were merged within the Department of the Permanent Secretary.

Civil Lords of the Admiralty

  • Mr.Charles Ross MP, July 1830 – May 1832.
  • Henry Labouchere, 1st Baron Taunton, June 1832 – December 1834.
  • Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, December 1834 – March 1834. (held jointly with Maurice Fitzgerald)
  • Sir Maurice FitzGerald, 18th Knight of Kerry, December 1834 – March 1835. (held jointly with Anthony Ashley Cooper, Lord Ashley)
  • Archibald Primrose, the Lord Dalmeny, 1835 – July 1841.
  • Mr. Henry Lowry-Corry, 1841–1845
  • Mr. Henry FitzRoy , 1845–1846.
  • Mr. William Fraser Cowper, 1846–1854.
  • Sir Robert Peel, 3rd Baronet, 1855–1857.
  • Mr. Thomas George Baring, 1857–1858.
  • Algernon Percy, 6th Duke of Northumberland, 1858–1859.
  • Rt Hon Frederick Lygon, 6th Earl Beauchamp, March–April 1859.
  • Mr. Samuel Whitbread, June 1859 – March 1863.
  • Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire, March–April 1863.
  • Mr. James Stansfeld, May 1863 – April 1864.
  • Mr. Hugh Childers, 1864–1865.
  • Mr. Henry Fenwick, January–April 1866.
  • Captain John Hay (Lord John Hay), April–May 1866.
  • Lord George Shaw-Lefevre, May–July 1866.
  • Sir Charles du Cane, 1866–1867.
  • Frederick Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby, 1868.
  • SirGeorge Trevelyan, 2nd Baronet, 1868–1870.
  • Robert Haldane-Duncan, 3rd Earl of Camperdown, 1870–1874.
  • Sir Massey Lopes, 1874–1880
  • Mr. William Caine, 1884–1885
  • Mr. Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett, 1885–1885
  • Mr. Robert Abercromby, 1886–1886
  • Mr. Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett, 1886–1892
  • Mr. Edmund Robertson, 1st Baron Lochee, 1892–1895
  • Mr. Austen Chamberlain, 1895–1900
  • Colonel Arthur Lee, 1st Viscount Lee of Fareham, 1903–1905
  • Mr. George Lambert, 1st Viscount Lambert, 1905–1915
  • Mr. Simon Digby ?–?
  • Sir Bolton Eyres-Monsell, 1921–1922
  • Mr. Frank Hodges, 1924–1924
  • Rt Hon George Hall, 1st Viscount Hall, 1929–1931
  • Mr. Kenneth Lindsay, 1935–1937
  • Mr. John Llewellin, 1937–1939
  • Sir Austin Hudson, 1st Baronet, 1939–1942
  • Mr. Stoker Edwards, 1945–1951
  • Hon. Thomas Galbraith, 1957–1959
  • Ian Orr-Ewing, Baron Orr-Ewing, 1959–1963
  • Mr. John Hay MP, 1963–1964

Departments under the civil lord



  1. Sainty, J. C. "Lord High Admiral and Commissioners of the Admiralty 1660–1870, British History Online". University of London, London, 1975, pp. 18–31. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  2. Sainty, J. C. "Lord High Admiral and Commissioners of the Admiralty 1660–1870, British History Online". University of London, London, 1975, pp. 18–31. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  3. Hamilton, C. I. (Feb 3, 2011). The Making of the Modern Admiralty: British Naval Policy-Making, 1805–1927. Cambridge University Press. p. 125. ISBN 9781139496544.
  4. The Orders in Council for the Regulation of the Naval Service. H.M. Stationery Office. 1873. pp. 254–256.
  5. Archives, The National. "Admiralty October–December:"Distribution of Business."". National Archives, 1872, ADM 1/6313. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  6. Archives, The National. "Admiralty October–December:"Distribution of Business."". National Archives, 1874, ADM 1/6313. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  7. "Greene, Sir William Graham (Secretary of the Admiralty), orders and circulars on changes in administration in the Admiralty, 1884–1917". National Maritime Museum, GEE/2.