Surveyor-General of the Ordnance

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Office of the Surveyor-General of the Ordnance
British Army Flag 1938 to 1959.gif
Department of the Surveyor General of the Ordnance
Member ofBoard of Ordnance (1597-1855)
Reports toMaster-General of the Ordnance (1597-1855) Secretary of State for War (1870-1887)
NominatorSecretary of State for War
AppointerPrime Minister
Subject to formal approval by the Queen-in-Council
Term lengthNot fixed (typically 3–9 years)
Inaugural holderHenry Johnson
Formation1538-1888

The Surveyor-General of the Ordnance was first created in 1597 when he was a member of the Board of Ordnance and was a subordinate of the Master-General of the Ordnance. Appointments to the post were made by the crown under Letters Patent. On 6 June 1855 the Ordnance Office (then a government department of state) was abolished along with its executive board and his position. Responsibility for the management and supply of ordnance to the British Army passed to the War Office. In 1870 the office was revived as a junior ministerial appointment and made head of his own Department of the Surveyor General of the Ordnance. In 1887 his office was abolished for the final time.

History

The office of the Surveyor-General of the Ordnance was first created in 1597 when he was a member of the Board of Ordnance and was a subordinate of the Master-General of the Ordnance. Appointments to the post were made by the crown under Letters Patent. The post was for a time held with that of Chief Engineer, but after 1750 became a political office, with the holder changing with the government of the day.[1]

On 6 June 1855 the Ordnance Office (then a government department of state) was abolished along with its executive board and his position fell vacant. Responsibility for the management and supply of ordnance to the British Army passed to the War Office. Following the War Office Act 1870 his office was revived as a junior ministerial appointment and was made head of his own Department of the Surveyor General of the Ordnance responsible for all aspects of Army logistics. In 1887 his department at the War office was abolished followed by his post in 1888.

Duties

His duties were to examine the ordnance received to see that it was of good quality. He also came to be responsible for the mapping of fortifications and eventually of all Great Britain, through the Ordnance Survey, and it is this role that is generally associated with surveyor-generalship. He was later made responsible for all aspects of Army logistics.

Office Holders

The office was abolished in 1888.

Footnotes

  1. Whitworth Porter, History of the Corps of Royal Engineers, volume I (London, 1889), page 168

Sources