The Royal Navy under the first Duke of Buckingham, Lord High Admiral 1618-1628
Between 1603 and 1613 the navy James I had inherited rotted slowly at its moorings, neglected by corrupt principal officers and an ageing Lord Admiral Nottingham who refused to recognise any responsibility for the administration. Abortive attempts to reform the navy were made in 1608 and 1613, but it was not until 1618 that success was achieved. The Commission of Enquiry led by Cranfield not only produced a searching and objective report, but also recommended a means by which the navy could be reformed, the ships fully repaired, and ten new ships added in five years while still saving £20,000 per year. Buckingham who had been appointed lord admiral soon after the enquiry had begun, supported the recommendations; accordingly, the king in council suspended the three principal officers and re-appointed the commissioners for a new five-year term. By 1623 the commissioners, with Buckingham clearly an active force behind them, had fulfilled their promise, and their patent was again renewed. The outbreak of war in 1625, together with the increasing depredations by pirates, caused several large fleets to be despatched in the period 1625-28. A study of the consequent problem confronting the administration in the spheres of finance, manning, victualling and dockyard service demonstrates that the organisation was competent until it was faced with the almost impossible task of preparing large scale expeditions on a meagre budget. At the same time it is evident that the lord admiral was influential in improving standards in seamen's wages and other matters affecting their welfare. Buckingham was active in the executive direction of the navy, which was the lord admiral's first responsibility, but it ms his concern with administration which left a lasting effect upon the office after his assassination in 1628.