In grander times all those functions now performed by the Admiralty were vested in a single nobleman, chosen by the king, who proudly bore the title of Lord High Admiral. Nowadays we have several gentlemen, who sit together on the board and arrive at their decisions by more or less lengthy discussion. The Board of Admiralty, or the Lords Commissioners, is composed of admirals (known as the 'Naval Lords' or 'Sea Lords') and politicians ('Civil Lords'). Their most senior member is the First Lord of the Admiralty, who at the beginning of Mr Norrell's association with the Admiralty is Lord Mulgrave.
During the earlier part of the Napoleonic Wars the army of Great Britain achieved much less success than did her Navy: in consequence it is The Admiralty which first makes use of the magical powers of Mr. Norrell. It is for them he creates his first military magic, the Rain Ships. Thereafter relations between their Lordships and Mr Norrell are very amicable, and we are given descriptions of him making himself very much at home in the Board Room, sipping madeira-wine and admiring the carvings over the mantel.