Surveyor of the Navy

From Naval History Archive
Jump to navigationJump to search
Office of the Surveyor of the Navy
Board of Admiralty Flag 19th to early 20th Century.gif
Board of Admiralty Flag 19th to early 20th Century
Navy Office (1660-1832)
Admiralty (1832-1859)
Member ofNavy Board (1660-1832)
Board of Admiralty (1848-1858)
Reports toComptroller of the Navy (1660-1832)
First Naval Lord (1832-1859)
Appointer[First Lord of the Admiralty]]
Term lengthNot fixed (usually held for life)
First holderVice-Admiral Sir William Batten
Final holderRear-Admiral Sir Baldwin Wake Walker

The Surveyor of the Navy and previously known as the Surveyor and Rigger of the Navy (1546-1660) was a former principle commissioner and member of the Navy Board from its inauguration on 14 July 1660. In 1859 the office was renamed Controller of the Navy until 1869 when the office was merged with that of the Third Naval Lord's the post holder held overall responsibility for the design of British warships.


The office was established in 1546 under Henry VIII of England when the post holder was styled as Surveyor and Rigger of the Navy until 1611. Although until 1745 the actual design work for warships built at each Royal Dockyard was primarily the responsibility of the individual Master Shipwright at that Royal Dockyard. For vessels built by commercial contract (limited to wartime periods, when the Royal Dockyards could not cope with the volume of work), the Surveyor's office drew the designs to which the private shipbuilders were required to build the vessels. From 1745 design responsibility was centred in the Surveyor's office, with the Master Shipwrights in the Dockyard responsible for implementation. In 1832 the Navy Board was abolished and all of its functions were brought under the sole control of the Board of Admiralty. Before 1832 the building, fitting out and repairing of HM ships were the responsibility of the Navy Board. Originally the principal officer most concerned was the Surveyor of the Navy, who estimated annual stores requirements, inspected ships' stores and kept the Fleet's store-books and repair-bills. In the eighteenth century his duties passed increasingly to the Comptroller of the Navy. The office of Surveyor did not disappear, however, and after 1832, when the office of Comptroller was abolished, the Surveyor was made the officer responsible under the First Naval Lord for the material departments, and became a permanent member of the Board of Admiralty in 1848. In 1859 the name of this office was changed to Controller of the Navy until 1869 when the office was amalgamated with the office of the Third Naval Lord.

Office Holders

  1. Vice-Admiral Sir William Batten, 1660-1667
  2. Thomas Middleton 1667-1672
  3. Sir John Tippetts, 1672-1692
  4. Edmund Dummer, 1692-1699
  5. Daniel Furzer, 1699-1706
  6. Daniel Furzer and William Lee, 1706-1704, (jointly)
  7. Daniel Furzer, 1714-1715
  8. Jacob Acworth, 6 April 1715-1745
  9. Sir Jacob Acworth and Joseph Allin, 1745-1749 (jointly)
  10. Joseph Allin, 1749-1755
  11. Thomas Slade and William Bately, 1755-1756, (jointly)
  12. Thomas Slade and John Williams (jointly) 1765-1771
  13. John Williams, 22 February 1771-1778
  14. Sir John Williams and Edward Hunt, 1778-1784, (jointly)
  15. Edward Hunt and John Henslow, 1784-1786, (jointly)
  16. John Henslow (alone) 7 December 1786-1793
  17. John Henslow and William Rule, 1793-1806, (jointly)
  18. Sir William Rule and Henry Peake, 1806-1813, (jointly)
  19. Joseph Tucker and Sir Robert Seppings, FRS, 1813-1831, (jointly)
  20. Sir Robert Seppings, FRS, 1831-1832
  21. Captain Sir William Symonds Kt CB, CB FRS, 1832-1848
  22. Rear-Admiral Sir Baldwin Wake Walker 1848-1859 (became the first Controller of the Navy)