List of the First Lords of the Admiralty
This is a List of First Lords of the Admiralty of England, Great Britain and then the United Kingdom. The earlier Lords High Admiral were mostly courtiers or members of the Royal family. When the office of Lord High Admiral was "put into commission" it was exercised by a board of Lords Commissioners (or "Sea Lords") headed by a First Lord of the Admiralty, and not by a single man. The office of First Lord remained a political one which did not need to be filled by a professional naval officer, although it sometimes was.
The first such First Lord of the Admiralty was Richard Weston, 1st Earl of Portland, who was appointed in 1628. In the 17th century and the early 18th century, it was not invariable for the Admiralty to be in commission, so there are gaps in the list of First Lords, and a small number of First Lords were for a time Lord High Admiral.
In 1964, the office of First Lord of the Admiralty was abolished, the last holder being the second Earl Jellicoe, the son of Admiral of the Fleet Earl Jellicoe, and the functions of the Sea Lords were then transferred to the Admiralty Board, which forms part of the tri-service Defence Council of the United Kingdom.
First Lords of the Admiralty of England, 1628–1701
|Name||Entered office||Left office|
|The Earl of Portland||1628||1635|
|The Earl of Lindsey||1635||1636|
|William Juxon, Bishop of Lincoln||1636||1638|
|The Earl of Northumberland |
(Lord High Admiral 1638–1642)
|The Lord Cottington||1643||1646|
|Sir Henry Capell||1679||1681|
|The Earl of Nottingham||1681||1684|
|The Earl of Torrington |
(Lord High Admiral 1689)
|The Earl of Pembroke||1690||1692|
|The Lord Cornwallis||1692||1693|
|The Viscount Falkland||1693||1694|
|The Earl of Orford||1694||1699|
|The Earl of Bridgewater||1699||1701|
|The Earl of Pembroke||1701||1702|
First Lords of the Admiralty of Great Britain, 1709–1801
|Name||Entered office||Left office|
|The Earl of Orford||1709||1710|
|Sir John Leake||1710||1712|
|The Earl of Strafford||1712||1714|
|The Earl of Orford||1714||1717|
|The Earl of Berkeley||1717||1727|
|The Viscount Torrington||1727||1733|
|Sir Charles Wager||1733||1742|
|The Earl of Winchilsea||1742||1744|
|The Duke of Bedford||1744||1748|
|The Earl of Sandwich||1748||1751|
|The Lord Anson||1751||1756|
|The Earl Temple||1756||1757|
|The Earl of Winchilsea||1757||1757|
|The Lord Anson||1757||1762|
|The Earl of Halifax||1762||1762|
|Hon. George Grenville||1762||1763|
|The Earl of Sandwich||1763||1763|
|The Earl of Egmont||1763||1766|
|Sir Charles Saunders||1766||1766|
|Sir Edward Hawke||1766||1771|
|The Earl of Sandwich||1771||1782|
|The Viscount Keppel||1782||1783|
|The Viscount Howe||1783||1783|
|The Viscount Keppel||1783||1783|
|The Viscount Howe||1783||1788|
|The Earl of Chatham||1788||1794|
|The Earl Spencer||1794||1801|
First Lords of the Admiralty of the United Kingdom, 1801–1964
Fictional First Lords
The "Radical" First Lord, and a major character, in Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera H.M.S. Pinafore (1878), is Sir Joseph Henry Porter, KCB. W. S. Gilbert wrote to Arthur Sullivan he did not intend to portray the real-life then First Lord, plain W. H. Smith, a Conservative, although some of the public, including Prime Minister Disraeli (who later referred to Smith as "Pinafore Smith"), identified Porter with him. The counterparts shared a known lack of naval background. It has been suggested the character was drawn on Smith's actual "Radical" predecessor of 1868–71, Hugh Childers.
- Lee, Sidney, ed. (1899). "Weston, Richard (1577-1635)". Dictionary of National Biography. 60. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 364.
- "Bertie, Robert". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
- Thomas Mason, Serving God and Mammon: William Juxon, 1582–1663 (ISBN 0-87413-251-7)
- Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 4, Admiralty Officials 1660-1870
- Jacobs, Arthur (1986). Arthur Sullivan - A Victorian Musician. Oxford University Press. p. 114. ISBN 0-19-282033-8.
- Arthur Sullivan, A Victorian Musician. p. 115.
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 11. Oxford University Press. 2004. p. 445.Article on Childers by William Carr, rev H. C. G. Matthew.