First Lord of the Admiralty

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The First Lord of the Admiralty was the equivalent of a Secretary of State for the Department of Admiralty and political head of the Royal Navy and acted as the government's adviser on naval affairs, The office was established in 1625 following the creation of the Board of Admiralty of which he was chairman and head of the board. The office existed until 1964 when admiralty along with two other service ministries were unified into the Ministry of Defence.[1]


Possibly one of the earliest permanent government posts (as opposed to being part of the monarch's household), the holder was the political head of the Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office, then later the Department of Admiralty that oversaw the Royal Navy by virtue of being the President of the Board of Commissioners for Exercising the Office of Lord High Admiral (the Admiralty Board). The post was always part of the Cabinet. From the early 1800s the post was held by a civilian (previously officers of the Royal Navy had also been able to occupy the post). The post of First Lord of the Admiralty was abolished when the Admiralty, War Office, Ministry of Defence and Air Ministry were merged to form the new Ministry of Defence in 1964.[2] In his official capacity he was the equivalent of a Secretary of State following the merger into the MOD his office became a junior Minister of State called the Minister of State for the Royal Navy.

First Lords of the Admiralty

Formally his office title has been known by different names see list below:

  1. First Lord of the Admiralty of England, 1628–1702.
  2. First Lord of the Admiralty of Great Britain, 1707–1801.
  3. First Lord of the Admiralty of the United Kingdom, 1801–1964.


  1. Archives, The National. "Senior Cabinet posts". Kew, London: National Archives UK. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  2. National Archives UK