Ordnance Office

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Ordnance Office
Seal of the Office of Ordnance.gif
Office overview
Formedorigin 1412 formal 1460
Superseding department
JurisdictionGovernment of the Kingdom of England ]
HeadquartersLondon, England
Office executives
  • Master of the Ordnance
    Master-General of the Ordnance
  • Clerk of the Ordnance
    Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance
Parent OfficeAdmiralty Office
Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office

The Ordnance Office, was established c.1460 in 1597 a management body called the Board of Ordnance was established to control and direct the office. There was no standing army, and its principal duties were to supply guns, ammunition, stores and equipment to the King's Navy and Army. In 1683 this office became a Civil Department of State, under a Master General. It existed until 1855 when it was abolished and responsibility for the management and supply of ordnance transferred to the War Department.

Historical overview

From the 1320's a member of the Royal Household, the 'Keeper of the Privy Wardrobe in the Tower of London', became increasingly responsible for the procurement, storage and distribution of weapons. His office and main arsenal were located in the White Tower. This 'Privy Wardrobe in the Tower' grew, both in size and significance, after the start of the Hundred Years War. The offices of master and clerk of the Ordnance first appear early in the fifteenth century, and around them an Ordnance Office was gradually established at the Tower of London, where from 1429 there was also a separate Armoury Office.[1] A distinct Office of Ordnance began to establish itself at the Tower, staffed in the 1460's.[2] In the remaining century, the influence of the Privy Wardrobe and its staff receded, and no new Keepers were appointed after 1476. A reform of the Ordnance Office in 1543 added the offices of the lieutenant of the Ordnance, surveyor, storekeeper and clerk of deliveries. In 1597 following restructuring a new management body was established the Board of Ordnance to oversee became a civil department of state in 1683.[3]

Principle officers (1415-1543)

  1. Master of the Ordnance (1415–1544)
  2. Clerk of the Ordnance (1415–1853)
  3. Yeoman of the Ordnance (1430–1543)
  4. Surveyor of the Ordnance (1530-1597)

Principle officers (1543-1855)

  1. Master-General of the Ordnance (1544–1855)
  2. Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance (1545-1855)
  3. Clerk of the Ordnance (1415–1853)
  4. Surveyor-General of the Ordnance (1544-1597)
  5. Storekeeper of the Ordnance (1558-1855)
  6. Clerk of the Deliveries of the Ordnance (1570-1812)

Additional Principal Officers (1543-1597)

  1. Master Gunner of England
  2. Master of Naval Ordnance (additionally a member of the Council of the Marine later Navy Board)


  1. Tomlinson, H. C. (1979). Guns and Government: the Ordnance Office under the later Stuarts. London: Royal Historical Society.p.70.
  2. Tomlinson. p.70.
  3. Tomlinson. p.70.


  1. Tomlinson, H. C. (1979). Guns and Government: the Ordnance Office under the later Stuarts. London: Royal Historical Society.


  1. https://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/gb-bordn.html Office of Ordnance later Board of Ordnance (Britain), images appear courtesy of crwflags.com, Martin Grieve.