Surveyor of the Navy

Surveyor of the Navy

The Surveyor to the Navy was a civilian officer in the Royal Navy. He was a member of the Navy Board from the inauguration of that body in 1546, and held overall responsibility for the design of British warships, although until 1745 the actual design work for warships built at each Royal Dockyard was primarily the responsibility of the individual Master Shipwright at that Royal Dockyard. For vessels built by commercial contract (limied to wartime periods, when the Royal Dockyards could not cope with the volume of work), the Surveyor's office drew the designs to which the private shipbuilders were required to build the vessels. From 1745 design responsibility was centred in the Surveyor's office, with the Master Shipwrights in the Dockyard responsible for implementation. In 1859 the post of Surveyor of the Navy was changed to Controller of the Navy.

List of Surveyors 1546-1859

In date order (note that the post of Surveyor was frequently shared, which enabled the Admiralty to have competitive designs prepared for evaluation):

  • Benjamin Gonson 24 April 1546.
  • Sir William Wynter 8 July 1549.
  • Sir Henry Palmer 11 July 1589.
  • Sir John Trevor 20 December 1598.
  • Sir Richard Bingley 1611.
  • Thomas Norreys 12 February 1619.
  • Joshua Downing 1625.
  • Sir Thomas Aylesbury 1628.
  • Kenrick Edisbury 19 December 1632.
  • William Batten 26 September 1638.
  • John Holland 16 February 1649.
  • George Payler 1654.
  • Sir William Batten 20 June 1660.
  • Thomas Middleton 25 November 1667.
  • Sir John Tippetts 5 September 1672.
  • Edmund Dummer 9 August 1692.
  • Daniel Furzer 22 September 1699.
  • Daniel Furzer and William Lee (jointly) 19 October 1706.
  • Daniel Furzer (alone) 16 November 1714.
  • Jacob Acworth 6 April 1715.
  • Sir Jacob Acworth and Joseph Allin (jointly) 11 July 1745.
  • Joseph Allin (alone) 16 March 1749.
  • Thomas Slade and William Bately (jointly) 4 September 1755.[1]
  • Thomas Slade and John Williams (jointly) 28 June 1765.[2]
  • John Williams (alone) 22 February 1771.[2]
  • Sir John Williams and Edward Hunt (jointly) 11 April 1778.[2]
  • Edward Hunt and John Henslow (jointly) 13 December 1784.[3]
  • John Henslow (alone) 7 December 1786.[3]
  • John Henslow and William Rule (jointly) 11 February 1793.[3]
  • Sir William Rule and Henry Peake (jointly) 20 June 1806.[4]
  • Joseph Tucker and Robert Seppings (jointly) 14 June 1813. (Seppings became Sir Robert Seppings from 20 February 1822.[5]
  • Sir Robert Seppings (alone) 1 March 1831.[6]
  • William Symonds 9 June 1832. (Symonds became Sir William Symonds in 1836.)[7]
  • Sir Baldwin Wake Walker 5 February 1848.[8]


  1. ^ Lavery, The Ship of the Line, p96
  2. ^ a b c Lavery, The Ship of the Line, p106 and p124
  3. ^ a b c Lambert, The Last Sailing Battlefleet, p59
  4. ^ Lambert, The Last Sailing Battlefleet, p65
  5. ^ Lambert, The Last Sailing Battlefleet, p59, 65 and p66
  6. ^ Lambert, The Last Sailing Battlefleet, p65 and p66
  7. ^ Lambert, The Last Sailing Battlefleet, p67 and 68
  8. ^ Lambert, The Last Sailing Battlefleet, p56


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