Surveyor-General of the Ordnance

The Surveyor-General of the Ordnance was a subordinate of the Master-General of the Ordnance and a member of the Board of Ordnance, a British government body, from its constitution in 1597. Appointments to the post were made by the crown under Letters Patent. His duties were to examine the ordnance received to see that it was of good quality. He also came to be responsible for the mapping of fortifications and eventually of all Great Britain, through the Ordnance Survey, and it is this role that is generally associated with surveyor-generalship.

Office of the Surveyor-General of the Ordnance
Badge of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps on a RML 10 inch 18 ton gun in Gibraltar.jpg
Board of Ordnance Arms preserved on a gun tampion in Gibraltar
Member ofBoard of Ordnance (1538-1888)
Reports toMaster-General of the Ordnance
AppointerPrime Minister
Subject to formal approval by the Queen-in-Council
Term lengthNot fixed (typically 3–9 years)
Inaugural holderHenry Johnson


The post was for a time held with that of Chief Engineer, but after 1750 became a political office, with the holder changing with the government of the day.[1]

The office was vacant at the time the Board of Ordnance was abolished in 1855, the last holder, Lauderdale Maule, having died of cholera in the Crimea. The War Office Act of 1870 revived the office, making the Surveyor-General responsible for all aspects of Army logistics. The office was filled until 1888, when it was abolished.

Surveyors of the OrdnanceEdit

The office was abolished in 1888.


  1. ^ Whitworth Porter, History of the Corps of Royal Engineers, volume I (London, 1889), page 168
  2. ^ "Ross, Sir Hew Dalrymple (1779–1868)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/24119. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)