Sandwich, Middleton and Dockyard Appointments
In the latter half of the 18th Century, the administration of that vast and technical organisation known as The Royal Dockyards fell between the two disparate personalities of the First Lord, Lord Sandwich and the Comptroller of the Navy Sir Charles Middleton. Both strong characters, the policy of dockyard appointments was subject to two diverse political views: That of the longstanding right of the aristocracy to govern; and the introduction of a meritocracy to improve the standards of service. With Sandwich being the informed amateur and Middleton the professional, it can be seen to be a conflict of opinion between different social and administrative principles which surfaced as a distinction between the status of the Yard Officers and Shipwrights and the particular working practices of various apprentices and their possible career paths. In essence, appointments by merit and without prejudice, interest or money could not withstand the hereditary effects of money, patronage and ‘interest’.