In the middle ages the Navy was managed by the King in Council, sometimes, after 1360, through an official known variously as the Lord Admiral, High Admiral, Admiral of England or, from the early seventeenth century, Lord High Admiral, while day-to-day administration was by subordinate keepers or clerks of the king's ships.
The Lord High Admiral generally commanded the Navy in person or by deputy and was responsible for policy, strategy, and fighting personnel. He also had legal functions as president of the High Court of Admiralty, from the sixteenth century usually exercised by deputy, such deputies becoming in 1628 independent judges of Admiralty.
In 1546 the Navy Board was established and was made responsible, under the Lord High Admiral and subsequently under the Board of Admiralty, for materials, non-combatant personnel, warrant officers and ratings and the civil administration of the Navy.
In the seventeenth century the office of Lord High Admiral was on occasions not filled, the post being put into commission and its duties carried out by a Board of Admiralty, an arrangement which from 1708, apart from one brief period, became permanent.
In 1832 the Navy Board was abolished and the civil administration passed under the direct control of the Board of Admiralty. On 1 April 1964 the Admiralty was absorbed in the unified Ministry of Defence, where it became the Navy Department.