Clerk of the Acts

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Office of the Clerk of the Acts
Flag of the Navy Board 1707 to 1800.gif
Flag of the Navy Board 1707 to 1800
Navy Office
Member ofNavy Board
Reports toLord Admiral of England
AppointerMonarch
Subject to formal approval by the King-in-Council
Term lengthNot fixed
Inaugural holderSamuel Pepys
Formation1660-1796

The Clerk of the Acts[1] originally known as the Keeper of the King's Ports and Galleys, then later Clerk of the King's Ships (1320-1660) [2][3][4][5] was a civilian officer in the Royal Navy who was made a principle member of the the new Navy Board constituted by King Charles II on 4 July 1660, and appointed 13 July, 1660. He was responsible for the organisation of Navy Office, processing naval contracts and coordinating the secretarial side of the Navy Board's work, when this post's duties were merged with that of the Second Secretary to the Admiralty later known as the Permanent Secretary to Admiralty.[6] In 1796 the office was abolished.

History

The origins of the office, possibly in its original form though not conclusive dates from a very much earlier date, John, King of England who developed a royal fleet and the earliest known administrative structure for the English Navy, through his appointment of William of Wrotham in the early 13th century, William a naval administrator is said by modern historians to have had a "special responsibility for ports, customs, and the navy". Murray (1935), Oppenheim reprint, (1940), Lloyd (1970) and Runyan (1987) support the view that his office was continued down until the creation of the Navy Board in 1546 and the Clerk of the Act's and the Secretary of the Admiralty.[7] However a clear definition of Wrothams office is not conclusive and has been viewed by other sources such as Turner (1994) to be similar to that of the First Lord of the Admiralty.[8] King John's successor Henry III[9] continued refining the naval administration his fleets. However It was during Edward III's reign when a formal naval administration really began to evolve. It was possibly the oldest administrative appointment in connection with the Royal Navy, at first called Keeper of the King's Ports and Galleys during the thirteenth century, later in the fourteenth century known as Clerk of the King's Ships,[10] according to naval historian Nicholas A. M. Rodger in his book the Admiralty (1979) states "Insofar as mediaeval Kings of England possessed a permanent administrator of their navies, he was the 'Clerk of the Kings Ships'. The post first appears in a distinct form under King John with William de Wrotham was Keeper of the Kings Ports and Galleys, the Clerk of the Kings Ships was not a one man department of state but a permanent agent of the crown"[11] this official held, sometimes really and sometimes nominally, for a period of over 300 years the control of naval organisation until the formation of the Navy Board in 1546.[12] During the course of the following centuries the title changed its name. In the fifteenth century the post was sometimes known as the Clerk of Marine Causes and during the sixteenth century the office was sometimes called the Clerk of the Navy. On 4 July 1660 the Council of the Marine was renamed as the Navy Board and subsequently the earlier of of Clerk of the King's Ships was renamed to Clerk of the Acts on 13 July 1660. Between the years 1673 and 1677 the office was held jointly by two clerks of the acts, and then again from 1702 until 1706. Between 1673 and 1680 the post was held simultaneously with the Secretary of the Admiralty. In the same year the Clerk of the Acts was appointed an assistant to alleviate him of some of his secretarial duties[13] and thus separating those responsibilities from the office of the secretary. In 1796 the offices of Clerk of the Acts and three other offices those of Comptroller of Storekeepers Accounts, Comptroller of Treasurer Accounts and Comptroller of Victualling Accounts[14] were abolished and the Board reconstituted, the function of the Navy Office was then supervised of three Committees, of Correspondence, Accounts and Stores.[15]

Responsibilities

The Clerk of the Acts' official responsibility's were:[16][17]

  • Head of the Navy Office staff
  • Administering and processing of all Naval contracts.
  • Coordinating the secretarial side of the Navy Board's work.
  • Framing and writing answers to letters, orders, and commands from the Board of Admiralty.
  • Management of Navy Board records.
  • Processing of petty cash payments
  • Provision, equipment and victualing of all ships.
  • Superintending and organising the business of the Navy Board.

Office Holders

Included:[18][19][20]

  1. Samuel Pepys, 13 July 1660 – 19 June 1673
  2. Samuel Pepys and Thomas Hayter, 19 June 1673 – 14 April 1677, (jointly)
  3. Thomas Hayter and James Sotherne. 14 April 1677-May 1679, (jointly)
  4. James Southerne, May 1679-5 February 1690.
  5. Charles Sergison, 6 February 1690 – 10 February 1702.
  6. Charles Sergison and Samuel Atkins, 11 February 1702 – 24 August 1706, (jointly)
  7. Charles Sergison, 25 August 1706 – 20 May 1719.
  8. Tempest Holmes, 21 May 1719 – 10 October 1726.
  9. Best Pearse, 11 October 1726 – 14 April 1743.
  10. John Clevland, 15 April 1743 – 15 August 1743.
  11. Robert Osborn, 16 August 1743 – 26 July 1747.
  12. Daniel Devert, 27 July 1747 – 2 February 1761.[21]
  13. Timothy Brett, 3 February 1761 – 19 March 1761.[22]
  14. Edmund Mason, 20 March 1761 – 15 July 1773.
  15. George Marsh, 16 July 1773 – 1796.[23]

References

  1. Ehrman, John (Feb 2, 2012). The Navy in the War of William III 1689-1697: Its State and Direction. Cambridge University Press. p. 181. ISBN 9781107645110.
  2. Runyan, Timothy J. (1987). Ships, Seafaring, and Society: Essays in Maritime History. Wayne State University Press. p. 42. ISBN 0814319912.
  3. Lloyd, Christopher (1970). The British Seaman 1200-1860: A Social Survey. Associated University Presse. p. 17. ISBN 9780838677087.
  4. Oppenheim, Michael (23 February 2014). "The Administration of the Royal Navy before 1509". A History Of The Administration Of The Royal Navy And Of Merchant Shipping In Relation To The Navy, From Mdix To Mdclx, With An Introduction Treating Of The Preceding Period. Original. (1940). Nabu Press. p. 3. ISBN 9781295694860.
  5. "Naval Review (London)". 34. 1946: 339.
  6. Ehrman, John (Feb 2, 2012). The Navy in the War of William III 1689-1697: Its State and Direction. Cambridge University Press. p. 181. ISBN 9781107645110.
  7. Runyan, Timothy J. (1987). Ships, Seafaring, and Society: Essays in Maritime History. Wayne State University Press. p. 42. ISBN 0814319912.
  8. Turner, Ralph V. (1995). King John (Repr. ed.). London [u.a.]: Longman. p. 128. ISBN 9780582067264.
  9. Runyan, Timothy J. (1987). Ships, Seafaring, and Society: Essays in Maritime History. Wayne State University Press. p. 43. ISBN 0814319912.
  10. Knighton, Dr C. S.; Loades, Professor David (Jul 28, 2013). The Navy of Edward VI and Mary I, Introduction. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. xxix. ISBN 9781409482406.
  11. Rodger, N. A. M. (1979). The Admiralty: Offices of State (First ed.). Lavenham: Terence Dalton Ltd. pp. 3–4. ISBN 9780900963940.
  12. Peck, Linda Levy (2003). Court Patronage and Corruption in Early Stuart England. Routledge. p. 112. ISBN 9781134870424.
  13. Collinge, J.M. "Assistant Clerk of the Acts and Secretary 1680-1832 | British History Online". www.british-history.ac.uk. University of London, 1978. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  14. The present state of the British court, or, An account of the civil and military establishment of England. University of Oxford. 1720. p. 79, (digitized, 23 Oct 2006).
  15. "Navy Board, In-Letters And Orders, 1688-1815 - National Maritime Museum". collections.rmg.co.uk. Royal Museums Greenwich, 2017. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  16. Ehrman, John (Feb 2, 2012). The Navy in the War of William III 1689-1697: Its State and Direction. Cambridge University Press. pp. 180–183. ISBN 9781107645110.
  17. Goldsmiths, Worshipful Company of (1935). "Samuel Pepys and his Goldsmiths". The London Goldsmiths. Cambridge: CUP Archive. p. 13.
  18. Sainty, J.C. "Navy Clerk of the Acts c. 1546 - 1660 | Institute of Historical Research". history.ac.uk. University of London, January 2003. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  19. Collinge, J.M. "Principal officers and commissioners Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 7, Navy Board Officials 1660-1832. Originally published by University of London, London, 1978, British History Online". british-history.ac.uk. University of London, 1978, pp.18-25. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  20. Andrews, M. Oppenheim ; with an introduction by K.R. (1988). A history of the administration of the Royal Navy and of merchant shipping in relation to the Navy from 1509 to 1660 with an introduction treating of the preceding period ([Repr.] ed.). Aldershot, England: Temple Smith. pp. 3–79. ISBN 9780566055720.
  21. Jefferys, Thomas (1759). A Companion to the Almanac M.DCC.LIX. The Eighth Edition... To which is Added, a Map of the World, Neatly Engraved by Thomas Jefferys . The British Library. p. 146.
  22. A Companion to the Almanac M.DCC.LIX. The Eighth Edition. ... To which is Added, a Map of the World, Neatly Engraved by Thomas Jefferys . The British Library. 1759. p. 146.
  23. The Royal Kalendar, Or, Complete and Correct Annual Register for England, Scotland, Ireland, and America. UC Southern Regional Library Facility. 1797. p. 102.