Dr Roger Morriss

Research interests

I have two main research fields which may be best examined separately.

The first is naval administration in the 18th and early 19th centuries, which is now acknowledged as the platform upon which the British navy operated at sea. This interest has resulted in books and articles on the operations of the Royal dockyards; a biography and articles on the Admiral, Sir George Cockburn, who dominated the management of naval affairs at the Admiralty for eighteen years between 1818 – 1846; and a biographical essay on Charles Middleton, Lord Barham, who presided at the Navy Board 1778 – 1790, later becoming the First Sea Lord and First Lord at the time of Trafalgar. In 2004 my book about the transition in administrative ideas and organisation 1760 – 1850 was published, the subtitle of which perhaps best indicates its concerns, ‘Public trust and government ideology’. This examines the sub-cultures underlying naval administration prior to 1800 and the impact of Benthamism after 1800 through the influence of disciples of Samuel Bentham, brother of Jeremy and Inspector General of Naval Works, the Civil Architect and Engineer, 1796 – 1812. I am currently working on a book on the logistics of British maritime supremacy in the late eighteenth century, which encompasses strategy, finance, shipbuilding, ordnance, manpower, food supply and the supply British military expeditions and bases overseas.

My second research field is historical manuscripts relating to maritime affairs and the navy in particular. This has resulted from specialisation in the management of the manuscript collections at the National Maritime Museum, which continues to bear fruit in my teaching on the sources for maritime history. It has given rise to a Guide to British naval papers that have remained in, or been exported to Canada and the United States of America. For this I obtained a research grant of £30,000 and a Churchill Travelling Fellowship to research the collection in North America. It has also contributed to my General Editorship of the Navy Records Society from 2000, and for whom in 2001 I completed a volume on the management of the Channel Fleet during the French Revolutionary War.

A more distant project is a Navy Records Society volume on Samuel Bentham. This will also contribute to a biography of Samuel Bentham from c. 1790, after his time in Russia, covering his impact on the navy and later connections with the Mill family.