The Society Annual Lecture 2007: Politics and Trust in Victualling the Navy, 1793-1815

By Roger Knight, published May 2008


Following the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the Victualling Board was accused of corruption and poor performance. A detailed examination of the evidence shows that most problems were due to inefficient working practices and lack of expertise on the part of the Commissioners. Government reforms had in fact started after the American War and reforms initiated by the Commission of Naval Revision in 1807 meant that by the end of the war naval administration in general and the Victualling Board in particular was much more efficient and professional than before. The lecture uses Basil Cochrane’s 250 page report which he issued to the Admiralty Board attacking the Victualling Board to try and get his accounts settled as a basis for the contemporary belief that the victualling of ships for the Navy was not openly and fairly untaken. Various sources, such as the trial of Christopher Atkinson, explain how from the 1780s the process (and openness) of victualling changed and restored faith in the process.

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Filed under: Napoleonic War
Subjects include: Administration | Logistics | Navies

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