Author Topic: Burney's Academy  (Read 4281 times)


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Burney's Academy
« on: September 30, 2012, 01:23:29 PM »
Burney’s Naval Academy was founded in 1791 by Dr. William Burney in whose family it remained until they sold it in 1888; it closed in 1904. The academy was situated at Gosport, and although it had a naval “theme”, it was not exclusively a nautical academy, but was actually a boys school, teaching a wide range of subjects. Many of its pupils did go on to serve in the Navy, the Marines or the Army. The Academy prepared boys for officer entry into the Royal Navy but other boys entered the Army, one becoming General Sir John Cowans, another Sir Frederick G. Guggisberg, Governor of the First Gold Coast. In an article in The Times in 1897 the Academy was referred to as a ‘Crammer’.

According to Dr White in ‘The History of Gosport’ the papers advertised the school in 1800: ‘At the Academy, delightfully situated in Cold Harbour, Gosport, a limited number of young gentlemen are genteely boarded, tenderly treated, and instructed in every branch of useful and polite literature by William Burney A.M. Math. The school has long been established and the plan upon which it is conducted is liberal and extensive and particularly calculated for youth intended for the Navy and Army.

Amongst the facilities at the Academy was a meteorological observatory, reports from it appearing in 'The Morning Post'.

William Burney was the author of a short history 'The British Neptune' and edited the 1815 edition of Falconers Marine Dictionary. In the forward to the 1815 edition, Burney claims that that he had probably trained  ... a greater number of young officers for the sea service than any other individual.

Born 1762. He died in December 1832 and his son Henry took over the running of the Academy, and he was succeeded by another son (brother to Henry), Edward. The final principal was the grandson of William, Amyatt Burney. In 1888 the Rev F.G. Johnson was hired as headmaster of Burney’s Royal Naval Academy and continued running the Academy until 1904.

Burney was well connected and a number of wealthy families sent their sons to the Academy; it attracted Royal approval, with King William IV being a patron (he presented a boat). Queen Victoria granted the establishment the title 'Burney’s Royal Academy'.

Pupils during the 19th century included Prince Louis of Battenburg; Prince Henry of Prussia; Prince George (late King George V). and Princes Edward and Victor of Hohenlohe. Martin Snape, Gosport’s most celebrated artist, was born at Spring Garden Cottage on 31 December 1852 and educated at Dr. Burney’s Naval Academy. Sir William Drummond Jervois, whose name is closed associated with the Victorian Fortifications of Gosport and the U.K. as Inspector General of Fortification (William Jervois Way, the name given to the new road to Fort Gilkicker in his honour) was educated at Burney’s Academy.

By the end of the 19th century, boys destined for the services would be trained to sit their entrance examinations to Dartmouth or Sandhurst.

The first Burney’s Academy was situated at Cold Harbour, Gosport. It later occupied Bay House at Stokes Bay.
Bay House belonged to the War Department in 1859 and was sold to Dr. Burney of Burney’s Naval Academy by them in 1878. He is shown as living there in the 1871 census and may therefore have been leasing the property for a considerable time.

Source: A. MacDermott’s three-page article “Dr Burney’s Royal Academy at Gosport”, The Mariner’s Mirror, February 1965. volume51 p.57.

« Last Edit: November 14, 2014, 11:50:36 AM by David »