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1649 - Commonwealth

England was proclaimed a Commonwealth or a “Free state”. It was during this time that the size of the navy almost doubled. In 1649 Colonel William Willoughby of the Parliamentary Army was appointed to the Dockyard as its first Admiralty Commissioner with the respectable salary of £500 per annum; he died in 1651 it was said from over work. The Commissioners were responsible for the organisation of the dockyard and initially chosen from the ranks of the Parliamentary Army from where they had proved themselves on committees or in battle and not, as so often in past, because of court favours.

They were men of high quality who proved to be prompt, honest, and energetic, sparing not themselves or their purse, supported and strengthened by a Puritan spiritual vigour that had won a war.

Royal Navy consisted of 39 ships and smaller vessels.