James Bramble

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Paymaster Rear-Admiral James Bramble, C.B., R.N. (25 July, 1850 – 25 May, 1930) was an Accountant Branch officer of the Royal Navy.

Life & Career

James Bramble entered the Royal Navy as an Assistant Clerk on 12 June, 1867. His first three months were spent in the Victory at Portsmouth, being discharged on 9 September. He was then sent to the Mediterranean Station, being borne on the books of the frigate Terrible, the ironclad Caledonia (fleet flagship), the hulk Hibernia (flagship of the Admiral Superintendent at Malta), before apparently joining the frigate Endymion in December. He was rated Clerk on 11 June, 1868. On 22 May, 1869, he was appointed to the frigate Gladiator on the Cape of Good Hope and West Africa Station. He was promoted to the rank of Assistant Paymaster on 25 July, 1871. He returned home in February, 1872, and after his foreign service leave joined the corvette Favorite, Coast Guard ship at Queensferry, where he would spend over two and a half years.

On 28 September, 1874, Bramble was appointed to the Audacious as Secretary's Clerk to the Commander-in-Chief on the China Station, Vice-Admiral Alfred P. Ryder. He ceased as such on 22 November. After full pay leave he was appointed to the frigate Endymion, Coast Guard ship on the Humber. On 3 September, 1878, Admiral Edward G. Fanshawe, the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth, asked for Bramble as an additional Secretary's Clerk, which appointment he received on 28 September. He remained in this position for nearly nine years, serving under Fanshawe (1878 – 1880), Ryder again (1880 – 1882), Sir Geoffrey T. Phipps Hornby (1882 – 1885), and Sir George O. Willes (1885 – 1888). By the end of his time he was senior Secretary's Clerk in the Admiral's office.[1]

On 4 May, 1887, he was appointed Secretary to the Admiral Superintendent at Malta, Rear-Admiral R. Gordon Douglas, and was promoted to the rank of Paymaster on 4 November, 1887. He ceased duty at Malta in February, 1889. He was temporarily appointed to the Asia in lieu of an Assistant Paymaster, and on 23 July was appointed Secretary to Rear-Admiral Richard E. Tracey, commanding A Fleet for the annual manœuvres. When Tracey was appointed Rear-Admiral in the Channel Squadron on 13 September Bramble went with him as Secretary. When Tracey's year was up Bramble remained as Secretary to Rear-Admiral Loftus F. Jones. When Jones was superseded on 15 September, 1892, Bramble went on half pay, until on 12 January, 1892, he again became Secretary to an Admiral Superintendent at Malta, this time under Tracey. He was promoted to the rank of Staff Paymaster on 4 November, 1893. He arrived home on 25 February, 1894. On 18 June he was appointed to Alexandra as Secretary to the Admiral Superintendent of Naval Reserves, Edward H. Seymour, for a period of not more than four years, "to be held during pleasure". Having stayed on under Seymour's successor, Compton E. Domvile, in 1898 requested that his tenure be extended by another two years. His request was refused by the Admiralty, although the Board recognised his good service.

On 6 October, 1898, he returned to general service and was appointed to the Repulse in the Channel Squadron. He was promoted to the rank of Fleet Paymaster on 4 November, 1899 (it was later altered to 1895). He left Repulse on 4 July, 1901, and on the following day he was appointed to the Illustrious on the Mediterranean Station. On 18 March, 1902, he was appointed to the Bulwark, flagship of the fleet. Domvile, now Admiral Sir Compton Domvile, became Commander-in-Chief in May. In October, 1903, he was specially recommended by Domvile "for services in connection with victualling Fleets under his command". The question of promotion to Paymaster-in-Chief was "deferred".

Bulwark paid off on 3 January, 1905. After going on leave he was appointed to the protected cruiser, second class, Hermes on 16 February. On 2 October he was appointed to Victory for Division II of the Royal Naval Barracks at Portsmouth.

He was promoted to the rank of Paymaster-in-Chief on 15 March, 1907. He was superseded at Portsmouth on 24 October, 1908, and placed on the Retired List, at his own request, on 25 October. From 1 December until 1 December, 1911, he served on the books of Victory for the Royal Fleet Reserve.

From 1 August, 1914, until the end of the First World War he served as Secretary to the Principal Naval Transport Officer at Southampton. In the New Year's Honours of 1918 he was appointed a Companion of the Civil Division of the Most Honourable Honourable Order of the Bath (C.B.) and was invested by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 16 January. He finally reverted to the Retired List on 6 September, 1919. At the end of the year his wife petitioned the Admiralty for her husband to be promoted to the new rank of Paymaster Rear-Admiral, but this was refused. He was finally granted the rank on the Retired List on 22 January, 1923, aged 72.

Promotion & Retirement

From 1891 until 1914 Bramble occasionally produced a volume entitled Promotion and Retirement of Flag Officers & Captains of the Royal Navy. In the preface to the 1891 edition he wrote:

The author of this compilation hopes the work will meet a want which has long been felt in the Navy. He has devoted much time and thought to the subject, and for years has provided many Flag Officers and Captains with lists shewing the probable future state of the Flag Lists, and only now rushes into print at the urgent request of many Service friends, who, having seen the various lists, &c., herein contained, and which were drawn up for personal edification, are anxious that their brother officers should have the benefit of the perusal of them.
Should any errors or omissions be detected in the lists of Officers who have commanded on the various Stations, shewn in the Appendix, the Author would be glad to be informed of them, in order to make the necessary corrections. should he at any future time decide to print another edition of the work.[2]

The Times, referring to it as "a useful little manual", described it in the following terms:

The manual contains tabular statements of future and possible Admirals of the Fleet, of the possible state of the active lists of flag officers for the next 14 years, and of retirements and promotions. It also embodies in a clear and succinct way a mass of information relating to qualifications for promotion, pensions, allowances, and full and half pay. In an appendix are given lists of all officers who have served on home and foreign stations, in command of squadrons, and in charge of dockyards, with the dates of their appointments.[3]


  1. The Navy List, Corrected to the 20th December, 1886. p. 245.
  2. Promotion and Retirement of Flag Officers and Captains of the Royal Navy, 1891. p. 1.
  3. "Naval and Military Intelligence". The Times. 2 January, 1892. p. 6.


  • Bramble, James (1891). Promotion and Retirement of Flag Officers and Captains of the Royal Navy, 1891. Portsmouth: Holbrook & Son, Ltd.
  • Bramble, James (1912). Promotion and Retirement of Flag Officers & Captains of the Royal Navy, 1912. Portsmouth: Holbrook & Son, Ltd.

Service Records