Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: June 13, 2017
Webpage updated: May 15, 2019

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Up until 1832 the Plymouth Royal Dockyard, as it was until August 1843, when it became Devonport Royal Dockyard, was run by a Commissioner of the Dockyard on behalf of the Navy Board in London.  The Victualling Yard was entirely separate and reported to the Victualling Board, which in turn came under the Navy Board.

In 1832 the Navy Board was abolished and everything except the Gun Wharves were brought under the direct control of the Admiralty.  From then onwards, a serving Royal Navy Officer, usually of Rear-Admiral rank, was appointed as Admiral-Superintendent of the Dockyard.  He was responsible for all the civilian support services operated by the Dockyard Departments.

Rear-Admiral Frederick Warren was the first to be appointed as Admiral-Superintendent of the Plymouth Royal Dockyard on April 1st 1837, in succession to Captain Charles B H Ross, the last Commissioner.  He was followed by Rear-Admiral Sir Samuel Pym KCB., appointed December 16th 1841. 

Rear-Admiral Sir John Louis, Bart., was the first to be appointed Admiral-Superintendent of Devonport Royal Dockyard on December 16th 1846, following the change of name authorized by Her Majesty Queen Victoria during a visit to the Dockyard in August 1843.  He was followed by: Commodore Lord John Hay CB., appointed as Commodore-Superintendent, February 9th 1850; Commodore Michael Seymour, appointed as Commodore-Superintendent, September 8th 1851; Rear-Admiral the Honourable Montagu Stopford, appointed March 21st 1854; Rear-Admiral Henry Eden, appointed August 4th 1854; Rear-Admiral Michael Seymour, appointed December 12th 1854; Rear-Admiral Sir James Hanway Plumridge KCB, appointed February 19th 1855; Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Sabine Pasley Bart., appointed December 4th 1857; Rear-Admiral Thomas Matthew Charles Symonds CB, appointed December 1st 1862; Rear-Admiral the Honourable James Robert Drummond CB, appointed April 24th 1866; Rear-Admiral William Houston Stewart GCB, appointed June 5th 1870; Rear-Admiral Sir William King-Hall KCB, appointed November 20th 1871; Rear-Admiral William Charles Chamberlain, appointed August 5th 1875; Rear-Admiral George Ommanney Willes GCB, appointed May 1st 1876; Rear-Admiral Charles Webley Hope, appointed February 1st 1879; Rear-Admiral Charles Thomas Curme, appointed February 20th 1880; Rear-Admiral John Crawford Wilson, appointed February 23rd 1885; Rear-Admiral Henry Duncan Grant CB, appointed July 10th 1885; Rear-Admiral Sir Walter James Hunt-Grubbe KCB, appointed August 1st 1888; Rear-Admiral Sir Robert Henry More Molyneux KCB, appointed August 4th 1891; Rear-Admiral Edmund John Church, appointed August 7th 1894; Rear-Admiral Henry John  Carr, appointed November 3rd 1896; Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Sturges Jackson, appointed July 7th 1899; Rear-Admiral William Hanam Henderson, appointed July 11th 1902 (made Vice-Admiral while in post, 1904); Rear-Admiral Charles James Barlow DSO, appointed March 31st 1906; Rear-Admiral Charles Henry Cross, appointed March 31st 1908; Rear-Admiral Robert Henry Simpson Stokes, appointed October 4th 1910; Rear-Admiral Godfrey Harry Brydges Mundy MVO, appointed December 11th 1913; Rear-Admiral Sir Arthur John Henniker-Hughan Bart, appointed December 18th 1916; Rear-Admiral Edwin Veale Underhill CB, appointed September 1st 1919; Rear-Admiral Hugh Lindsay Patrick Heard CB DSO, appointed September 20th 1922; Rear-Admiral Louis Charles Stirling Woollcombe CB MVO, appointed November 1st 1926; Vice-Admiral Oliver Backhouse CB (retired), March 1st 1927 and re-appointed October 10th 1929; Rear-Admiral Harold Owen Reinold CB CVO, appointed March 2nd 1931; Rear-Admiral Arthur Lionel Snagge CB, appointed 1935; Rear-Admiral Arthur Ninian Dowding CB, appointed September 27th 1938; Rear-Admiral Randolph Stewart Gresham Nicholson CB DSO DSC, appointed December 18th 1945; Rear-Admiral Philip King Enright CB CBE, appointed February 6th 1950; Rear-Admiral Leslie Newton Brownfield CB CBE, appointed March 31st 1954; Rear-Admiral Lancelot Arthur Babington Peile CB DSO MVO, appointed November 1957; Rear-Admiral George David Archiblad Gregory CB DSO, appointed September 29th  1960; Rear-Admiral Arthur James Cawthra CB, appointed April 2nd 1964; Rear-Admiral Denis Bryan Harvey Wildish, appointed October 26th 1966.

It would seem that Vice-Admiral A T F G Griffin CB, was to be appointed Admiral-Superintendent of Royal Dockyard but the post was abolished and replaced by the appointment on June 1st 1967 of Captain Southwood as General Manager.

On December 30th 1970 Vice-Admiral J R McKaig CBE was appointed as Port Admiral, Her Majesty's Naval Base, Devonport, and Flag Officer, Plymouth.

The Officer next below the Admiral-Superintendent in the Royal Dockyard was the Captain of the Dockyard.  He held the Royal Naval rank of Captain.  In addition to being in charge of the daily administration of the Royal Dockyard, excluding the Royal Naval Barracks, the Captain was also the King or Queen's Harbour Master for the Port of Plymouth.


  Compiled from the Naval Lists held at the Devonport Branch Library.