First Lord of the Admiralty of England

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Office of the First Lord of the Admiralty of England
Coat of Arms Government of the Kingdom of England 1702 to 1707.png
Coat of Arms Government of the Kingdom of England
Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office, Department of Admiralty
Member ofBoard of Admiralty
Reports toSecretary of State of England
NominatorPrime Minister of England
AppointerMonarch of England
Subject to formal approval by the King-in-Council
Term lengthNot fixed
Inaugural holderRichard Weston, 1st Earl of Portland

The First Lord of the Admiralty was the English government's senior adviser on all naval affairs and the minister responsible for the direction and control of the Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office as well as general administration of the Navy Royal, that encompassed the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines and other services. It was one of the earliest known permanent government posts. Apart from being the political head of the Navy Royal the post holder simultaneously held the title of the President of the Board of Commissioners for Exercising the Office of Lord High Admiral (Board of Admiralty). The office of First Lord of the Admiralty existed from 1628 until it was abolished following the Act of Union in 1707 between Kingdom of England and Kingdom of Scotland creating the Kingdom of Great Britain.


In 1628, during the reign of Charles I, the Duke of Buckingham, Lord High Admiral of England, was assassinated and the office was placed in commission, under the control of a Board of Commissioners. The first such First Lord of the Admiralty was Richard Weston, 1st Earl of Portland, who was appointed in 1628.

During the English Civil War (1642-1651) the office was placed in abeyance control of naval affairs passed to a number of parliamentary and council of state committees such as the Parliamentary Admiralty Committee (1645-1648) Council of State Committee on the Admiralty and Navy (1649-1652) Committee on Admiralty Affairs (1652-1653) Admiralty Commission (1653-1660). The office was reestablished following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

The First Lord was not always a permanent member of the Board of Admiralty until the Department of Admiralty was established as an official department of state in 1690 with the First Lord as its head; it replaced the earlier Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office.

During most of the 17th century and into the early 18th century, it was not invariable for the Admiralty to be in commission, so there are gaps in the list of First Lords, and a small number of First Lords were also for a time Lord High Admiral and Senior Naval Lord.

After the Revolution, in 1690, a declaratory Act was passed, during the reign of William and Mary. Parliament passed the Admiralty Act, vesting in the Commissioners the powers formerly held by the Lord High Admiral of England. and at this point became a permanent Cabinet position. The Admiralty Commission was dissolved in 1701.

Office Holders

First Lord of the Admiralty of England (1628–1701)

  1. Richard Weston, 1st Earl of Portland, (1628-1635)
  2. Robert Bertie, 1st Earl of Lindsey, (1635-1636)
  3. William Juxon, Bishop of Lincoln, (1636-1638)
  4. Algernon Percy, 10th Earl of Northumberland (Lord High Admiral 1638–1642), (1642-1643)
  5. Francis Cottington, 1st Baron Cottington, (1643-1646)
  6. Sir Henry Capell, MP for Tewkesbury, (1679-1681)
  7. Daniel Finch, 2nd Earl of Nottingham, (1681-1684)
  8. Arthur Herbert, 1st Earl of Torrington, (Lord High Admiral 1689), (1689-1690)
  9. Thomas Herbert, 8th Earl of Pembroke, (1690-1692)
  10. Charles Cornwallis, 3rd Baron Cornwallis, (1692-1693)
  11. Anthony Cary, 5th Viscount Falkland, (1693-1694)
  12. Edward Russell, 1st Earl of Orford, (1694-1699)
  13. John Egerton, 3rd Earl of Bridgewater, (1699-1701)
  14. Thomas Herbert, 8th Earl of Pembroke, (1701-1702)

Civil and Naval Boards, Departments, Offices and Ministers under the First Lord

  1. Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office
  2. Department of Admiralty
  3. Board of Admiralty
  4. Navy Board
  5. Sick and Hurt Board
  6. Transport Board
  7. Victualling Board
  8. Office of the Senior Naval Lord
  9. Office of the Secretary to the Admiralty
  10. Office of the Assistant Secretary to the Admiralty
  11. Office of the Deputy Secretary to the Admiralty
  12. Office of the Treasurer of the Navy