Victualling Department

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Victualling Department
Board of Admiralty Flag 20th Century.png
Department overview
Preceding Department
Superseding department
JurisdictionUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
HeadquartersWhitehall, City of Westminster, London
Department executive
  • Director of Victualling
Parent departmentDepartment of Admiralty

The Victualling Department previously called the Victualling Branchwas the British Admiralty department responsible for civil administration of Victualling Yards, the storing and supply of Naval Victuals and the provision of naval transportation for the Royal Navy from 1870 to 1878 when it was replaced by the Victualling Department.

The department was controlled and directed by the office of the Director of Victualling.


The provision of Victualling to the Royal Navy was originally done using specialist food and beverage subcontractors,[1][2] it became the responsibility of the office of the Surveyor-General of Victuals, who was a principal officer of the Navy Board from 1550 to 1679. In 1683, he was post replaced by a Victualling Office superintended by the Victualling Board, it that was subordinate yet autonomous to the Navy Board.[3] The Victualling Office took over a number of functions, including medical services, from the Transport Office when it was abolished in 1817. The Victualling Office was later discharged from its duties in the Admiralty reforms of 1832, victualling then became the responsibility of the Board of Admiralty creating a new Department of the Comptroller of Victualling and Transport Services,[4] that was controlled and directed by the Comptroller of Victualling and Transport Services. The Office was initially overseen by the Fourth Naval Lord. In 1862 the provision of naval transport services passed to a newly created Department of the Director of Transports and in 1869 the office of Comptroller of Victualling and his department was ended. Its former role was then divided between a new Contract and Purchase Department, that would be managed by the Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty, as their department became responsible for purchasing. Following this re-organisation process a Victualling Branch was established under the supervision of a Superintendents of Victualling and Stores from 1870 to 1878. In 1878 the Victualling Branch was renamed the Victualling Department controlled by a Director of Victualling his department managed the store-keeping and supply functions of Navy Victuals for the Royal Navy. In 1961 the department was amalgamated within the Naval Stores Department but remained autonomous until 1964.[5]

Head of Department

Director of Victualling


Note: Below is a timeline of responsibility for victualling for the Royal Navy.[6] As listed under headings in Royal Navy Lists:

  • Navy Board, Surveyor-General of Victuals, 1550-1679
  • Navy Board, Victualling Board (Board of Victualling Commissioners), 1683-1832
  • Board of Admiralty, Department of the Comptroller of Victualling and Transport Services, 1832-1869
  • Board of Admiralty, Victualling Branch, 1870-1878
  • Board of Admiralty, Victualling Department, 1878-1964
  • Ministry of Defence, Navy Department, Victualling Department, 1964-1970


  1. Macpherson, David (1805). Annals of Commerce, Manufactures, Fisheries, and Navigation with Brief Notices of the Arts and Sciences Connected with Them: Containing the Commercial Transactions of the British Empire and Other Countries : with a Large Appendix ; in Four Volumes. London, England: Nichols and Son. p. 318.
  2. Knight, Roger; Wilcox, Martin Howard (2010). Sustaining the Fleet, 1793-1815: War, the British Navy and the Contractor State. Boydell & Brewer. p. 1919. ISBN 9781843835646.
  3. "Victualling Board - Oxford Reference". Oxford University, England, 2007. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  4. Archives, The National. "Navy Board, Victualling Office, and Admiralty, Department of the Comptroller of the Victualling and Transport Services: In-Letters". National Archives, 1793-1849, ADM 109. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  5. Archives, The National. "Records of Victualling Departments". National Archives, 1660-1975, ADM. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  6. Archives, The National. "Records of Victualling Departments". National Archives, 1660-1975. Retrieved 6 June 2017.