1st Edition

Naval Power and British Culture, 1760–1850 Public Trust and Government Ideology

By Roger Morriss Copyright 2004

    Recent work on the growth of British naval power during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries has emphasised developments in the political, constitutional and financial infrastructure of the British state. Naval Power and British Culture, 1760-1850 takes these considerations one step further, and examines the relationship of administrative culture within government bureaucracy to contemporary perceptions of efficiency in the period 1760-1850. By administrative culture is meant the ideas, attitudes, structures, practices and mores of public employees. Inevitably these changed over time and this shift is examined as the naval departments passed through times of crisis and peace. Focusing on the transition in the culture of government employees in the naval establishments in London - in the Navy and Victualling Offices - as well as the victualling yard towns along the Thames and Medway, Naval Power and British Culture, 1760-1850 concerns itself with attitudes at all levels of the organisation. Yet it is concerned above all with those whose views and conduct are seldom reported, the clerks, artificers, secretaries and commissioners; those employees of government who lived in local communities and took their work experience back home with them. As such, this book illuminates not only the employees of government, but also the society which surrounded and impinged upon naval establishments, and the reciprocal nature of their attitudes and influences.

    Contents: Introduction; Part I The Eighteenth Century: The growth of British naval power; The culture of community; The culture of bureaucracy; The culture of finance; The nature of distrust; The debate over reform; Part II The Nineteenth Century: Samuel Bentham and the new ideology; Individual responsibility and public trust; Financial control and accountance; Classification and bureaucratic culture; Education and community; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.


    Dr Roger Morriss works in the Department of History, at the University of Exeter, UK.

    'There is [...] no question of the high quality of Roger Moriss's scholarly work. It provides us with an extremely useful and fascinating insight into the control and organization of the Naval Dockyards, which underpinned the growth of British naval power during the 18th and 19th centuries.' Journal for Maritime Research '... what Dr Morris has done is to bring the naval story back into the centre, and to see the political changes of the times as acted out through naval administration as part of the seismic shift of the government and civil administration into the modern world. In all this is [...] nicely argued and thoroughly researched.' Institute of Historical Research 'This is a detailed, scholarly examination of the forces that shaped the evolution of culture within British naval bureaucracy...Well documented. Highly recommended.' Choice '... a significant book with an exciting theme...' History '... makes an important contribution to placing naval history to where it belongs, in the heart of national history.' International Journal of Maritime History '... Morriss has produced a book which all serious scholars of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries will find illuminating, and not just naval historians... Morriss has produced a valuable book.' The Northern Mariner 'The first thing which strikes the reader is how well the book is produced, with reference notes at the bottom of the page where they ought to be, and good quality paper and inking, although the typeface is a little small. Ashgate is adapting the best of academic publication to the techniques of modern commercial publication, and is doing a very good job of it... The coverage of the work, its research and its presentation should ensure that Morriss's book has an important place in serious naval libraries.' The Mariner's Mirror