The professionalisation of the Royal Navy
: 1660-1688

  • Samantha Middleton

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis analyses the developments made between 1660 and 1688 that contributed towards the Royal Navy becoming a more professionalised organisation. It outlines the impact of individuals and their methods towards achieving professionalisation. The political and financial problems facing the navy before the restoration of the monarchy are also addressed. Biographical case studies of three influential naval reformers; James Stewart, The Duke of York; William Coventry; and Samuel Pepys are used to demonstrate the significant influence that they had on the process of professionalization.
    This thesis ascertains that although the terminology had not been invented at this stage, the principles of Management Control were implemented by Pepys, Coventry and the Duke of York as a method of organizational professionalisation, identifying examples of performance measurement, rewards systems and the implantation of standard operating procedures.
    An in-depth analysis of the Duke of York’s instructions for the duties of the Principal Officers demonstrates that the Duke of York introduced enhanced accounting procedures and additional control mechanisms to reduce abuses and increase administrative efficiency.
    Additionally, a set of professional responsibilities has been created within this thesis for Coventry, whose role as secretary is absent from the instructions. This shows for the first time, that Coventry identified his professional remit as focusing primarily on retrenchment and the reduction of abuses. This contributed towards wider professionalisation.
    This thesis has also analysed the historiographical debates surrounding the characters of the Duke of York and William Coventry. Because both individuals had controversial private lives, the literature is frequently biased, therefore a fair assessment is reached in this thesis through a survey of the primary evidence and secondary literature. Finally, Samuel Pepys can also be seen to contribute towards the restoration administration’s aim to reduce abuses and implement accounting procedures to increase professionalisation. In order to ascertain how professionalised the navy was by the end of 1688; a review of the current theoretical understanding of the definition of ‘professionalisation’ was undertaken. A new conceptual framework for the definition of professionalisation with a set of criteria was developed that is applied to the 3 case studies.
    Finally, this thesis has established that the period of the late seventeenth century could be the first time that England is accurately described as being a ‘fiscal-military state’ because it has become a powerful military capable state, supported by efficient administrative procedures and the ability to secure the revenue required to enable it to engage in war. Previous studies by Brewer (1989) and Rodger (2011) have given the 18th century as the starting point of Britain becoming a ‘fiscal-military state’.
    Date of AwardSept 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Portsmouth
    SupervisorKaren McBride (Supervisor) & Anthony Hines (Supervisor)

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