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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):


  1. Lavery, The Ship of the Line, p96
  2. Lavery, The Ship of the Line, p106 and p124
  3. 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


  • Lambert, Andrew The Last Sailing Battlefleet, Maintaining Naval Mastery 1815-1850, published Conway Maritime Press, 1991. ISBN 0-85177-591-8.
  • Lavery, Brian (2003) The Ship of the Line - Volume 1: The development of the battlefleet 1650-1850. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-252-8.
  • Principal officers and commissioners, Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 7: Navy Board Officials 1660-1832 (1978), pp. 18–25. URL:

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