Secretary to the Admiralty - British


The Secretary was the senior official of the Admiralty. During the years 1684-9, when the powers and functions of the department were exercised directly by the crown, the Secretary was appointed by the crown by letters patent under the great seal with the title 'Secretary for the Affairs of the Admiralty'. At other times he was designated simply 'Secretary' and was appointed by the Lord High Admiral or the Admiralty Board. The office was held singly until 1694 when two joint Secretaries were appointed. The office of one of the joint Secretaries was dispensed with in 1698 but revived in 1702. It was again dispensed with in 1705 when the office of Deputy Secretary was created. Except during the years 1741-2 no joint Secretary was appointed thereafter. In 1746 the additional business arising from the war led to the appointment of a Second Secretary who became sole Secretary on the death of his colleague in 1751. In 1759 similar considerations again gave rise to the appointment of a Second Secretary who also became sole Secretary on the death of his colleague in 1763. It was not until 1783 that the office of Second Secretary was established on a permanent basis. 

From Burchett's period of office (1694-1742) until the early nineteenth century it was the general rule for the Secretaries to be members of the House of Commons but to enjoy nevertheless a secure tenure which was largely unaffected by political changes. However, in 1804 and again in 1806 Second Secretaries were displaced on political grounds. From 1807 it was accepted that the office of First Secretary should be held by a member of the Commons and that its tenure should be subject to the same considerations as that of other political members of the administration. From the same period it was understood that the office of Second Secretary should be non-parliamentary and held on a permanent tenure. Nevertheless it was not until the end of the period covered by these lists that the terms First and Second Secretary began to be superseded by those of Parliamentary and Permanent Secretary.

Between 1660 and 1664 the Secretary was entirely dependent on fees for his remuneration. In the latter year a salary of £500, payable by the Treasurer of the Navy, was made available by the crown in consideration of the abolition of certain of these fees. In the case of the office of Secretary for the Affairs of the Admiralty (1684-9) it was provided that, when the fees arising from the issue of passes fell short of £2000 a year, the difference should be made up from public funds. In 1694 the salary of the Secretary was fixed at £800 on the general abolition of the fees. A second salary of the same amount was provided while joint Secretaries were serving.  Burchett enjoyed, as Secretary, an additional allowance of £200 from the contingent fund while Prince George was Lord High Admiral. In 1717 the fees were restored and in the following year provision was made for the Secretary to receive half the product for his own use. On the formation of the Marine Department in 1755 the Secretary or First Secretary became its Secretary ex officio and was accorded a salary of £300 as such payable by the Paymaster of Marines. He also received all the fees arising in the Marine Department. In 1800 the various forms of remuneration received by the First Secretary were replaced by a single salary of £3000, with an additional allowance of £1000 in time of war. In 1815 the distinction between war and peace salaries was abolished and the salary of the First Secretary fixed permanently at the war level of £4000. It was, however, reduced again to £3000 in 1818. In 1831 it was fixed at £2000 with provision for an increase to £2500 after five years' service.

The salary of the Second Secretary varied. On his appointment in August 1746 Clevland was granted £600 which was increased to £800 in the following October. Stephens was also appointed at £600 in 1759, his salary being raised to £800 in 1761. When the office was established on a permanent basis in 1783 the salary was fixed at £600, being raised to £800 in 1790. From 1783 the Second Secretary was also Second Secretary of the Marine Department and received as such £200 payable by the Paymaster of Marines. In addition to these salaries the Second Secretary also enjoyed a proportion of the office fees, his share being calculated on the basis of the Chief Clerk's salary of £400. In 1800 the various forms of remuneration received by the Second Secretary were replaced by a single salary of £1500, with an additional allowance of £500 in time of war. In 1815 the salary was fixed permanently at the war level of £2000. It was reduced again to £1500 in 1818. In 1831 it was fixed at £1000 with provision for an increase to £1500 after five years' service. Baillie Hamilton was appointed on this basis in 1845 but was, in the event, allowed the increased salary from 1848. His successors were each appointed at £1500 until the end of the period.

'Secretaries 1660-1870', in Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 4, Admiralty Officials 1660-1870, ed. J C Sainty (London, 1975), pp. 34-37. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/office-holders/vol4/pp34-37 [accessed 14 July 2016].


 

Date fromDate toHolderSource
16521660Robert Blackborne (1620-?)EWIKI
1673/061679/05Samuel Pepys (1633-1703)OHMB4
16791680Thomas HayterW022
1684/051689/03Samuel Pepys (1633-1703)OHMB4
18301834 George Elliot (1784-1863)NBD1849