‘A considerable portion of the defence of the Empire’: Lisbon and victualling the royal navy during the French Revolutionary War, 1793–1802


  • The author would like to thank Dr. Martin Wilcox of Greenwich Maritime Institute for kindly commenting upon a draft version of this article and also this journal's two anonymous referees. He would also like to thank the trustees of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, for the award of a Caird Senior Research Fellowship; some of the material contained in this article was researched during the tenure of that fellowship.


Based on an assessment of primary archive material, this article casts new light on the implementation of a contractor-based victualling system to meet initial demands of the royal navy at Lisbon during 1793–6; and on the subsequent development of a more formal arrangement under an official representative of the victualling board, the agent victualler at Lisbon, to meet the needs of stationing the Mediterranean fleet there until its closure in 1802. It concludes that the victualling operations allowed the fleet to maintain an operational presence and had a strategic effect beyond protecting Portugal.