First Sea Lord
|Office of the First Sea Lord and |
Chief of the Naval Staff
Ensign of the Royal Navy
|Ministry of Defence|
|Reports to||Chief of the Defence Staff|
|Nominator||Secretary of State for Defence|
Subject to formal approval by the Queen-in-Council
|Term length||Not fixed (typically 4–5 years)|
|Inaugural holder||John Fisher, 1st Baron Fisher|
Senior Naval Lord, 1689-1771|
First Naval Lord, 1771-1904
First Sea Lord from 1904
The First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff (1SL/CNS) is the professional head of the United Kingdom's Royal Navy and the whole Naval Service. Originally the title was the Senior Naval Lord to the Board of Admiralty when the post was created in 1689. The office holder was then re-styled First Naval Lord from 1771. The concept of a professional "First Naval Lord" was introduced in 1805 and the title of the First Naval Lord was changed to "First Sea Lord" on the appointment of Sir Jackie Fisher in 1904. From 1923 onward, the First Sea Lord was a member of the Chiefs of Staff Committee; he now sits on the Defence Council and the Admiralty Board.
Lords Admiral were appointed from the 15th century; they were later styled Lords High Admiral until the 18th century, and Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty from the 17th century, as the governors of the English and later of the British Royal Navy. From 1683 to 1684, there were seven paid Commissioners and one supernumerary Commissioner who served without salary. The number varied between five and seven Commissioners through the 18th century. The standing of all the Commissioners was in theory the same, although the First Commissioner or First Lord exercised an ascendancy over his colleagues from an early date.
The generally recognized office of Senior Naval Lord to the Board of Admiralty was established on 8 March 1689, with the first incumbent being Admiral Arthur Herbert; he was also First Lord of the Admiralty. On the 20 January 1690 Admiral Herbert was succeeded by Admiral Sir John Chicheley under First Lord of Admiralty Thomas Herbert, Earl of Pembroke.
On 22 May 1702 the Board of Admiralty ceased control of Naval Affairs and was replaced by the Lord Admiral's Council. The previous office of Senior Naval Lord was replaced by a Senior Member to the Lords Admiral Council; he was usually a serving naval officer of Admiral rank and was the Chief Naval Adviser to the Lord Admiral. This lasted until 8 November 1709 when the Board of Admiralty resumed control of Naval Affairs and the post of Senior Naval Lord was resumed.
On 2 February 1771 the office of Senior Naval Lord was renamed to First Naval Lord. The first post holder was Vice-Admiral Augustus Hervey; he first served under First Lord of the Admiralty John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. In 1805, for the first time, specific functions were assigned to each of the 'Naval' Lords, who were described as 'Professional' Lords, leaving to the 'Civil' Lords the routine business of signing documents. On the 2 May 1827 the Board of Admiralty once again ceased control of Naval Affairs and was replaced by a Lord High Admirals Council: this lasted until 1828.
The title of the First Naval Lord was changed to First Sea Lord on the appointment of Sir Jackie Fisher in 1904. In 1917, the First Sea Lord was re-styled First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff. From 1923 onward, the First Sea Lord was a member of the Chiefs of Staff Committee and from 1923 to 1959, in rotation with the representatives of the other services (the Chief of the Imperial General Staff and Chief of the Air Staff), he would serve as the chairman of that committee and head of all British armed forces.[a] The title was retained when the Board of Admiralty was abolished in 1964 and the Board's functions were integrated into the Ministry of Defence.
Senior Naval Lords, 1689–1771
|Rank||Name||Image||Term of office||Ref.|
|Admiral||Arthur Herbert||8 March 1689||20 January 1690|
|Admiral||Sir John Chicheley||20 January 1690||5 June 1690|
|Admiral||Edward Russell||5 June 1690||23 January 1691|
|Captain||Henry Priestman||23 January 1691||2 May 1694|
|Admiral||Earl of Orford||2 May 1694||31 May 1699|
|Admiral||Sir George Rooke||31 May 1699||26 January 1702|
|Admiral||Sir John Leake||8 November 1709||4 October 1710|
|Admiral||Sir George Byng||4 October 1710||30 September 1712|
|Admiral||Sir John Leake||30 September 1712||14 October 1714|
|Admiral||Sir George Byng||14 October 1714||16 April 1717|
|Admiral||Matthew Aylmer||16 April 1717||19 March 1718|
|Admiral||Sir George Byng||19 March 1718||30 September 1721|
|Admiral||Sir John Jennings||30 September 1721||1 June 1727|
|Admiral||Sir John Norris||1 June 1727||13 May 1730|
|Admiral||Sir Charles Wager||13 May 1730||23 June 1733|
|Admiral||Lord Archibald Hamilton||23 June 1733||13 March 1738|
|Admiral||Lord Harry Powlett||13 March 1738||19 March 1742|
|Admiral||Lord Archibald Hamilton||19 March 1742||25 March 1746|
|Admiral||Lord Vere Beauclerk||25 March 1746||18 November 1749|
|Admiral||Lord Anson||18 November 1749||22 June 1751|
|Admiral||Sir William Rowley||22 June 1751||17 November 1756|
|Vice Admiral||The Honourable Edward Boscawen||17 November 1756||6 April 1757|
|Admiral||Sir William Rowley||6 April 1757||2 July 1757|
|Admiral||The Honourable Edward Boscawen||2 July 1757||19 March 1761|
|Admiral||The Honourable John Forbes||19 March 1761||20 April 1763|
|Admiral||Earl Howe||20 April 1763||31 July 1765|
|Admiral||Sir Charles Saunders||31 July 1765||15 September 1766|
|Rear Admiral||The Honourable Augustus Keppel||15 September 1766||11 December 1766|
|Rear Admiral||Sir Peircy Brett||11 December 1766||28 February 1770|
|Admiral||Sir Francis Holburne||28 February 1770||2 February 1771|
First Naval Lords, 1771–1904
|Rank||Name||Image||Term of office||Ref.|
|Vice Admiral||Augustus Hervey||2 February 1771||12 April 1775|
|Vice Admiral||Sir Hugh Palliser||12 April 1775||23 September 1779|
|Vice Admiral||Robert Man||23 September 1779||22 September 1780|
|Vice Admiral||George Darby||22 September 1780||1 April 1782|
|Admiral||Sir Robert Harland||1 April 1782||30 January 1783|
|Admiral||Hugh Pigot||30 January 1783||31 December 1783|
|Rear Admiral||John Leveson-Gower||31 December 1783||12 August 1789|
|Vice Admiral||Lord Hood||12 August 1789||7 March 1795|
|Vice Admiral||Sir Charles Middleton||7 March 1795||20 November 1795|
|Rear Admiral||James Gambier||20 November 1795||19 February 1801|
|Rear Admiral||Sir Thomas Troubridge||19 February 1801||15 May 1804|
|Vice Admiral||James Gambier||15 May 1804||10 February 1806|
|Rear Admiral||John Markham||10 February 1806||6 April 1807|
|Admiral||James Gambier||6 April 1807||9 May 1808|
|Vice Admiral||Sir Richard Bickerton||9 May 1808||25 March 1812|
|Vice Admiral||William Domett||25 March 1812||23 October 1813|
|Vice Admiral||Sir Joseph Yorke||23 October 1813||24 May 1816|
|Vice Admiral||Sir Graham Moore||24 May 1816||13 March 1820|
|Vice Admiral||Sir William Johnstone Hope||13 March 1820||2 May 1827|
|Vice Admiral||Sir George Cockburn||19 September 1828||25 November 1830|
|Rear Admiral||Sir Thomas Hardy||25 November 1830||1 August 1834|
|Rear Admiral||The Hon. Sir George Dundas||1 August 1834||1 November 1834|
|Rear Admiral||Sir Charles Adam||1 November 1834||23 December 1834|
|Vice Admiral||Sir George Cockburn||23 December 1834||25 April 1835|
|Vice Admiral||Sir Charles Adam||25 April 1835||8 September 1841|
|Admiral||Sir George Cockburn||8 September 1841||13 July 1846|
|Vice Admiral||Sir William Parker||13 July 1846||24 July 1846|
|Vice Admiral||Sir Charles Adam||24 July 1846||20 July 1847|
|Rear Admiral||Sir James Dundas||20 July 1847||13 February 1852|
|Rear Admiral||The Hon. Maurice Fitzhardinge Berkeley||13 February 1852||2 March 1852|
|Vice Admiral||Hyde Parker||2 March 1852||26 May 1854|
|Vice Admiral||The Hon. Maurice Fitzhardinge Berkeley||26 May 1854||24 November 1857|
|Vice Admiral||The Hon. Sir Richard Saunders Dundas||24 November 1857||8 March 1858|
|Vice Admiral||Sir William Martin||8 March 1858||28 June 1859|
|Vice Admiral||The Hon. Sir Richard Saunders Dundas||28 June 1859||15 June 1861|
|Admiral||The Hon. Sir Frederick Grey||15 June 1861||13 July 1866|
|Vice Admiral||Sir Alexander Milne||13 July 1866||18 December 1868|
|Admiral||Sir Sydney Dacres||18 December 1868||27 November 1872|
|Admiral||Sir Alexander Milne||27 November 1872||7 September 1876|
|Admiral||Sir Hastings Yelverton||7 September 1876||5 November 1877|
|Admiral||Sir George Wellesley||5 November 1877||12 August 1879|
|Admiral||Sir Astley Cooper Key||12 August 1879||1 July 1885|
|Admiral||Sir Arthur Hood||1 July 1885||15 February 1886|
|Admiral||Lord John Hay||15 February 1886||9 August 1886|
|Admiral||Sir Arthur Hood||9 August 1886||24 October 1889|
|Admiral||Sir Richard Hamilton||24 October 1889||28 September 1891|
|Admiral||Sir Anthony Hoskins||28 September 1891||1 November 1893|
|Admiral of the Fleet||Sir Frederick Richards||1 November 1893||19 August 1899|
|Admiral of the Fleet||Lord Walter Kerr||19 August 1899||21 October 1904|
First Sea Lords, 1904–present
Fictional First Sea Lords
In John Buchan's novel, The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915), the First Sea Lord is named as Lord Alloa, an impostor who Richard Hannay recognizes at a meeting as a spy and recent pursuer of his. Hannay describes Lord Alloa as recognizable from news pictures for his "beard cut like a spade, the firm fighting mouth, the blunt square nose, and the keen blue eyes...the man, they say, that made the New British Navy". The real First Sea Lord at the time the story is set (early summer 1914) was Prince Louis of Battenberg, coincidentally also bearded.
- Archives, The National. "Admiralty: Office of the First Sea Lord, later First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff: Correspondence and Papers". discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk. The National Archives. UK. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
- Organisation: How the Royal Navy is Managed Ministry of Defence
- Rodger, p. 34
- Rodger, p. 69
- Thomas, David A, A companion to the Royal Navy, pub Harrap, 1988, ISBN 0-245-54572-7 page 31.
- "Admiral Sir Philip Jones takes over as First Sea Lord". Royal Navy. 8 April 2016. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
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- "Sainty, JC, 'Lord High Admiral and Commissioners of the Admiralty 1660-1870', Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 4: Admiralty Officials 1660-1870 (1975), pp. 18-31". Retrieved 4 September 2009.
- Rodger, p. 91
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- "Friedman, N, 'The British Battleship 1906-1946', (2015), p. 21.".
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- Rodger, p. 51-52
- "The Commissioners ("Lords") of the Admiralty 1828 - 1895". W Loney RN. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
- Heathcote, p. 144
- Mackay, p. 315
- Heathcote, p. 268
- "Admiral Sir Francis Bridgeman". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
- Kerr, p. 238
- Heathcote, p. 83
- Heathcote, p. 127
- Heathcote, p. 130
- Heathcote, p. 252
- Heathcote, p. 26
- Heathcote, p. 164
- Heathcote, p. 75
- Heathcote, p. 42
- Heathcote, p. 21
- Heathcote, p. 217
- Heathcote, p. 60
- Heathcote, p. 63
- Heathcote, p. 90
- Heathcote, p. 162
- Heathcote, p. 189
- Heathcote, p. 150
- Heathcote, p. 139
- "Sir David Luce". Unit Histories. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
- Heathcote, p. 29
- Heathcote, p. 155
- Heathcote, p. 115
- Heathcote, p. 214
- Heathcote, p. 16
- Heathcote, p. 158
- Heathcote, p. 152
- Heathcote, p. 78
- Heathcote, p. 235
- Heathcote, p. 204
- Heathcote, p. 23
- Who's Who 2010, A & C Black, 2010, ISBN 978-1-408-11414-8
- "Sir Nigel Essenhigh". University of Exeter. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
- "Admiral Zambellas new First Sea Lord". Inside Government. 9 April 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
- The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan, chapter 8.
- Defence Administrative Responsibilities Hansard, 25 October 1955
- Heathcote, Tony (2002). The British Admirals of the Fleet 1734 - 1995. Pen & Sword Ltd. ISBN 0-85052-835-6.
- Kerr, Mark (1934). Prince Louis of Battenberg: Admiral of the Fleet. London: Longmans, Green and Co.
- Mackay, Ruddock F. (1973). Fisher of Kilverstone. London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0198224099.
- Rodger, N.A.M. (1979). The Admiralty. Offices of State. Lavenham: T. Dalton Ltd. ISBN 0900963948.