Council of the Marine

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Council of the Marine
Flag of the Council of the Marine 1545 to 1578.gif
Flag of the Council of the Marine
Council overview
Preceding Council
Superseding department
JurisdictionGovernment of the Kingdom of England
HeadquartersNavy Office, Deptford (1578-1600)
Tower Hill, City of London (1600-1656)
Crutched Friars, Seething Lane, City of London (1656-1660)
Council executive
Parent CouncilAdmiralty and Marine Affairs Office

The Council of the Marine or Council of the Marine Causes [1] formally called the King's Majesty's Council of his Marine were those individual Clerks of the Kings Marine that were first brought together in 1544 by the Lord Admiral of England John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland to coordinate work on naval affairs until 1545. On 24 April 1546 it was formally established as an executive body by letters patent by King Henry VIII. It was responsible for the civil administration of the Navy Royal from 1545 to 1660 when it was renamed the Navy Board. They were originally headquartered at the Tower of London then later the Navy Office.


Navy Office, Crutched Friars (the final headquarters of the Council of the Marine (1656-1660), then the new Navy Board until 1788)

The origins of the Council of the Marine first began to appear in the 13th century when the Keeper of the Kings Ports and Galleys its general predecessor, then later subordinate office, of the High Admiral of England (later Lord Admiral of England).[2] One of the first subordinate Offices of the Clerks of the Kings Marine was the Clerk of the Kings Ships was the sole naval administrator of the English Navy for nearly two hundred years when another clerk was created the Keeper of the Kings Storehouses in 1514. As management of the English Navy began to expand three more clerks with specific responsibilities for naval administration were established until 1545. The group which by January 1545 was already working as a body known as the Council of the Marine or King's Majesty's Council of His Marine. In the first quarter of 1545 an official memorandum was outlined that proposed the establishment of a new organisation that would formalize a structure for administering the navy that would have a clear chain of command for executing the office. Following the previous proposals the Council of the Marine was officially appointed by letters patent by Henry VIII on the 24 April 1546 its members were known as officially as the Chief Officers of the Admiralty.[3] It was initially headed by the Lieutenant of the Admiralty until 1557. the council was charged with overseeing the administrative affairs of the Navy Royal (while directive, executive and operational duties of the Lord Admiral remained with the Admiralty Office.[4] In 1557 the Lieutenant of the Admiralty ceased to direct the council that role was now given to the Treasurer of Marine Causes later known as the Senior Commissioner of the Navy Office.[5] In 1660 the Council of the Marine was renamed the Navy Board by King Charles I which in the earlier part of its history had remained independent until 1628 when it became a subsidiary advisory board to the Board of Admiralty under the control of the First Lord of the Admiralty.[6]

Members of the King's Council of the Marine

Chief Officers of the Admiralty


Lieutenant of the Admiralty

Treasurer of Marine Causes

Clerk Comptroller of the Navy

Clerk of the King's Ships

Keeper of the Kings Storehouses

Master of Naval Ordnance

Surveyor and Rigger of the Navy

Surveyor General of Victuals

Additional Notes

As defined by a set of ordinances drawn up under King Henry VIII's successor, King Edward VI, the Council of the Marine then later Navy Board was given a high degree of autonomy while yet remaining subordinate to the Lord High Admiral of England until 1628. This - at times ambiguous - relationship with the Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office was an enduring characteristic of the council, and indeed was one of the reasons behind the later Navy Board's eventual demise in 1832.[8]


  1. Loades, D. M.; Loades, Professor of History David (1996). John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, 1504-1553. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press. p. 85. ISBN 9780198201939.
  2. Oppenheim, Michael (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, originally published 1896 (1 ed.). London, England: Temple Smith. p. 84. ISBN 9780566055720.
  3. Rodger, N.A.M. (1998). "Council of the Marine". The safeguard of the sea : a naval history of Britain, 660-1649 (1st American ed.). New York, United States: W.W. Norton. pp. 228–231. ISBN 9780393319606.
  4. Rodger. pp.221-238
  5. Rodger. pp.221-238
  6. Rodger. pp.221-238
  7. Childs, David (2009). Tudor Sea Power: The Foundation of Greatness. Barnsley, England: Seaforth Publishing. p. 298. ISBN 9781473819924.
  8. Hamilton, Sir Vesey. "Naval Administration (1896)". Retrieved 25 March 2021.