Burney’s Naval Academy
The academy was situated in Clarence Square close to Gosport’s waterfront. It was founded by Dr. William Burney, primarily to educate naval cadets. He was described in his obituary as ‘Pious and steady, earnest in his religious duties, a truly affectionate and kind husband and parent; an upright Magistrate tempering justice with mercy, a patient and zealous preceptor; a most worthy and benevolent man‘. Dr. White wrote that: ‘he was a martinet whose mercy wasn’t apparent when he was executing justice with a cane’. On the death of Burney in February 1822, his son Henry took over running of the school, he had been in charge of it for many years. He was followed by Henry’s brother Edward (c.1817-1888) who had been running a Preparatory School at Bay House for some years. Next William’s grandson, the Rev. Edward Amyatt Burney became Headmaster. He became Rector of Rowner, to the north-west of Gosport (1848–1920). The school was sold in 1889. At some time before 1891 it received the patronage of Queen Victoria, Prince Alfred the Prince of Wales, Prince Louis of Battenburg and the Duke of Connaught, and was renamed the Royal Academy. Others of later fame who attended the school were Admiral Togo of the Japanese Navy, Earl Beatty of Jutland, Reginald Tyrwhitt and General Sir Sam Browne. The Rev. F. G. Johnson was Head Master from 1888 until the school closed in 1904 and moved to Shalford Park in Surrey. Sadly nothing of this original building now remains. In 1907 the first boy’s school to be built by Gosport Urban District Council was erected on the site, Clarence Square School.
A short article on Burney’s Academy, appeared in the “Mariners Mirror” volume51 p.57.
To summarise –
It was founded in 1791 by Dr. William Burney in whose family it remained until they sold it in 1889; 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. 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.
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 Acadamy”.
By the end of the 19th century, boys destined for the services would be trained to sit their entrance examinations to Dartmouth or Sandhurst.
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.
In 1853 a Dr Henry Burney was listed as living in Brockhurst Lodge. Dr Burney purchased Bay House in 1878. He is shown as living there in the 1871 census and may therefore have been leasing the property for a considerable time. In 1892 Burney’s daughters sold the house to Francis Sloane-Stanley (1841-1904).
A. MacDermott’s three-page article “Dr Burney’s Royal Academy at Gosport”, The Mariner’s Mirror, February 1965.
1999 dissertation by E. Horne entitled “The Burney Family and the Gosport Naval Academy 1791-1891”.