Josiah Burchett
Josiah Burchett was Secretary of the Admiralty
The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the Kingdom of England, and later in the United Kingdom, responsible for the command of the Royal Navy...

 in England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, a position he held for almost fifty years (26 September 1694 - 14 October 1742). He was first a clerk to Samuel Pepys
Samuel Pepys
Samuel Pepys FRS, MP, JP, was an English naval administrator and Member of Parliament who is now most famous for the diary he kept for a decade while still a relatively young man...

, the English civil servant famous for his diary. Burchett eventually fell out of favour with Pepys, but gained the respect and favour of Lord Admiral Edward Russell, and eventually was appointed Secretary of the Admiralty. He served continuously as Secretary of the Admiralty until retiring at age 76.

Burchett served on Russell's flagship
A flagship is a vessel used by the commanding officer of a group of naval ships, reflecting the custom of its commander, characteristically a flag officer, flying a distinguishing flag...

, the 100-gun HMS Britannia
HMS Britannia (1682)
HMS Britannia was a 100-gun first rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built by Phineas Pett II at Chatham Dockyard, and launched in 1682....

, at the battle of Barfleur
Barfleur is a commune in the Manche department in the Basse-Normandie region in north-western France.-Middle Ages:In the Middle Ages Barfleur was one of the chief ports of embarkation for England....

 in 1692 during the War of the Grand Alliance
War of the Grand Alliance
The Nine Years' War – often called the War of the Grand Alliance, the War of the Palatine Succession, or the War of the League of Augsburg – was a major war of the late 17th century fought between King Louis XIV of France, and a European-wide coalition, the Grand Alliance, led by the Anglo-Dutch...

. In 1693 he became the Deputy Judge Advocate of the Fleet, replacing Samuel Pepys
Samuel Pepys
Samuel Pepys FRS, MP, JP, was an English naval administrator and Member of Parliament who is now most famous for the diary he kept for a decade while still a relatively young man...

 in that office. Burchett was elected as a member of the English Parliament in 1705 as a Whig
British Whig Party
The Whigs were a party in the Parliament of England, Parliament of Great Britain, and Parliament of the United Kingdom, who contested power with the rival Tories from the 1680s to the 1850s. The Whigs' origin lay in constitutional monarchism and opposition to absolute rule...

 and member of the 'Court Group' representing the borough of Sandwich
Sandwich (UK Parliament constituency)
Sandwich was a parliamentary constituency in Kent, which elected two Members of Parliament to the House of Commons from 1366 until 1885, when it was disfranchised for corruption.-History:...

, in Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

. He remained a Member of Parliament
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 (MP) until 1713, then returned in 1721 continuing as a member for 20 years.

Using official reports received by the Admiralty, Burchett wrote the Memoirs of Transactions at Sea during the War with France, which was published in 1706 by the Queen's Printer, Edward Jones. In 1720 he published the lengthy book A Complete History of the Most Remarkable Transactions at Sea, which was reissued in 1995 by John Hattendorf
John Hattendorf
John Brewster Hattendorf is an American naval historian. He is the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of more than forty books on British and American maritime history and naval warfare. In 2005, the U.S...

 of the U.S. Naval War College. This 1720 book was the first general naval history published in the English language. This book was published by the printing firm J. Walthoe under royal license of King George I of Great Britain
George I of Great Britain
George I was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1 August 1714 until his death, and ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg in the Holy Roman Empire from 1698....

 and was clearly based on the official reports received in the Admiralty. Burchett's A Complete History of the Most Remarkable Transactions at Sea, along with Thomas Lediard's 1735 The Naval History of England, has become a key source of naval history
Naval history
Naval history is the area of military history concerning war at sea and the subject is also a sub-discipline of the broad field of maritime history....

 of that era.

Since he held the office of Secretary of the Admiralty, the key administrator of the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

, longer than any other person and had extensive official correspondence and Admiralty papers that have been preserved, his books and writings are relied upon by maritime and naval war historians. Unlike his predecessor Samuel Pepys, Burchett left no known diary or private papers. He died at age 80 at Hampstead
Hampstead is an area of London, England, north-west of Charing Cross. Part of the London Borough of Camden in Inner London, it is known for its intellectual, liberal, artistic, musical and literary associations and for Hampstead Heath, a large, hilly expanse of parkland...

 near London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...



  • Burchett, Josiah, A Complete History of the Most Remarkable Transactions at Sea, 1720, facsimile ed., 1995, Scholars' Facsimiles & Reprints, ISBN 9780820114897.
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