Briggs, John Thomas (DNB00)


BRIGGS, Sir JOHN THOMAS (1781–1865), accountant-general of the navy, of an old Norfolk family, a direct descendant of Dr. William Briggs [q. v.], and, in a collateral line, of Professor Henry Briggs [q. v.], was born in London on 4 June 1781. He entered early into the civil service of the admiralty, and at the age of twenty-five was appointed secretary to the 'commission for revising and digesting the civil affairs of the navy,' under the presidency of Lord Barham, in which capacity he was the virtual author of the voluminous reports issued by the commission, 1806-9. When the work of this commission was ended, Briggs was appointed assistant-secretary of the victualling board, a post which he held till, in 1830, he was selected by Sir James Graham, then first lord of the admiralty, as his private secretary; but was shortly afterwards advanced to be commissioner and accountant-general of the victualling board. That board was abolished in 1832, and Briggs was appointed accountant-general of the navy. He held this office for the next twenty-two years, during which term many and important improvements were made in the system of accounts, in the framing of the naval estimates, in the method of paying the seamen, and, more especially, in enabling them to remit part of their pay to their wives and families. In 1851 Briggs received the honour of knighthood in acknowledgment of his long and efficient departmental service, from which he retired in 1864. He died at Brighton on 3 Feb. 1886. His wife, to whom he was married in 1807, survived him several years, and died at the age of ninety, on 24 Dec. 1873. His son, Sir John Henry Briggs, chief clerk at the admiralty, was knighted on his retirement in 1870, after a service of forty-two years.

[Gent. Mag. 3rd ser. xviii. 305; obituary notice, Morning Post, 8 Feb. 1865, and of Lady Briggs. ib., 3 Jan. 1874; leading art. in Daily Telegraph, 6 Jan. 1874; information contributed by Sir J. H. Briggs.]

J. K. L.