High Admiral

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High Admiral
CountryRoyal Arms of England.png Kingdom of England
Service branchFlag Kingdom of England.gif English Navy
Related articles
HistoryWhen commanding in person at sea he is regarded as the Admiral of the Fleet

High Admiral was an office and not a naval rank per se that was established in 1360. To give the High Admiral military command, however, he was also appointed additionally ‘Captain General of Our Fleets and Seas’. In 1513 the office became known as Lord Admiral.


The first office High Admiral of England was constituted in 1360 when John de Beauchamp, 1st Baron Beauchamp de Warwick was appointed High Admiral of England by Edward III as well as the first commission of Admiral of the Fleet, Admiral of the South, North and West.[1][2] Subsequently the titles ‘High Admiral’ and ‘Lord Admiral’ were indiscriminately used in the wording of the letters patent, crystallizing eventually as ‘Lord High Admiral’, ninth of the nine great officers of state of the England. This title did not originally confer command at sea, but jurisdiction in maritime affairs and the authority to establish courts of Admiralty. To give the High Admiral military command, however, he was also appointed ‘Captain General of Our Fleets and Seas’.

By the reign of Henry VIII (1509–47) the English Navy had grown too big to be administered by the Lord High Admiral alone, and its civil administration was delegated to a committee called the Council of the King's Marine later known as the Navy Board. This board, which had Samuel Pepys as one of its members during the reign of Charles II (1660–85), ran in parallel with the Board of Admiralty until it was merged with the Admiralty in 1832. However, the office of Lord High Admiral, which, except for brief periods during its long history, had remained extant, was not abolished until 1964. In that year the three separate service ministries were brought together into a single Ministry of Defence, and the title of Lord High Admiral was then resumed by the crown in the person of Elizabeth I.


  1. Perrin, William Gordon (1922). British Flags; Their Early History and their Developement at Sea, with an Account of the Origin of the Flag as a National Device. Cambridge, England: CUP Archive. p. 82.
  2. Higgins, Alexander Pearce; Colombos, Constantine John (1954). The International Law of the Sea. London, England: Longmans, Green. p. 13.