Officers of the Green Cloth: Lord Steward

Provisional Lists 1485 - 1646 compiled by J.C. Sainty June 1999

Lord Steward

The office of steward of the household, customarily designated that of lord steward, was in the gift of the crown. The lord steward was the principal officer of the household below stairs in whom was vested the bulk of the patronage in that department. He was the senior member of the board of green cloth. In 1539 he was accorded special precedence by statute. (1) About 1540 the office was redesignated lord great master but the title lord steward was revived in 1554. (2) Generally speaking appointments were made by word of mouth accompanied by the transmission of a staff but on two occasions, in 1537 and 1550, grants were embodied in letters patent under the great seal. (3)

Until 1570 there were few interruptions in the succession to the office. Thereafter, with one brief exception, it was left vacant for the next forty-five years with the result that the direction of the household below stairs devolved upon the next senior members of the board of green cloth, the treasurer and comptroller. However, there were certain functions which the lord steward was obliged to undertake whenever parliament was in being. There were the customary duties of keeping a table for the members of both houses and recording the appearance of the commons at the opening of parliament (4) to which was added in 1563 the statutory duty of presiding over the administration of the oath to members of that house. (5) These functions necessitated the appointment of temporary stewards for the duration of parliament who had no standing in the household itself. In three cases during this period this function was conferred on persons who had already held senior posts. Thus Clinton (Lincoln) and Nottingham were lord admiral while Leicester was master of the horse. Only Derby did not hold an office of comparable standing.

Leicester, who had previously served as temporary steward in 1584-5, was appointed to the substantive household office in 1587 (6) but died in the following year. The office was not revived in its fullest form until the appointment of Lennox in 1615. (7) Hamilton, his successor, appears to have occupied the office on the same basis. On the latter's death in 1625 the household office was again left vacant. In the first two parliaments of Charles I the parliamentary duties were carried out by Pembroke, the lord chamberlain, and Worcester, the lord privy seal, respectively. The household office appears to have been revived once again in August 1626 with the appointment of Pembroke who seems to have served until his death in 1630. For the next decade the office was left unfilled. In the absence of parliament it was not necessary to appoint even temporary stewards during this period. It would seem that the proximate cause for the appointment of Arundel, the earl marshal, as lord steward in April 1640 was the meeting of parliament in that month but this does not necessarily mean that he was not also invested with the powers of household steward as well. His position remains to be clarified as does that of his successor, Richmond.

The remuneration attached to the office consisted of a salary of £100 and a diet of sixteen dishes a meal. (8)

Henry VII

1485

Fitzwalter, John (Radcliffe) 9th Lord

First occ. 19 Oct. 1485 (CPR 1485-94)

Last occ. 23 Nov. 1486 (Ibid. p.142)

 

By 1488

Willoughby, Sir Robert, Kt. (summoned as Lord Willoughby de Broke 12 Aug. 1491)

First occ. 25 May 1488 (Leland's Collectanea, ed. T. Hearne, 2nd edn. (1770), iv, 243)

Last occ. 1501 (ibid. v, 353)

[D. 23 Aug. 1502]

 

By 1505

Shrewsbury, George (Talbot) 4th Earl of

Occ. Feb. 1505 (S.J. Gunn, 'The Courtiers of Henry VII', English Historical Review (1993), cviii, 34 n. 1, citing Lincolnshire Archives Office, Bishop's Register 23, fo. 252v), 5 June 1506 ( Catalogue of Ashmolean MSS, 1125 no. 11)

Occ. In will of King 10 Apr. 1509 (LP, I, 1)

 

Henry VIII

1509

Shrewsbury, George (Talbot) 4th Earl of

Apparently continued in office 22 Apr. 1509 on accession of King.

Occ. At coronation 24 June 1509 (LP, I, 82).

D. in office 26 July 1538 (LP, xiii (2), 5).

 

[Sussex, Robert (Radcliffe) 1st Earl of Gt. In reversion after Earl of Shrewsbury by letters patent 23 June 1537 (LP, xii(2), 191 (36); ibid. xiii(2), 5); apparently did not succeed.]

 

By 1540

Suffolk, Charles (Brandon) 1st Duke of

App. By 1540 (Statutes of the Realm, ii, 792-3).

Last occ. 29 mar. 1544 (LJ, I, 265).

D., apparently in office, 22 Aug. 1545.

 

1545

St. John, William (Paulet) is Lord

App. Rumoured 22 Sept. 1545 (LP, xx(2), 427).

First occ. 23 Nov. 1545 (LJ, I, 268; APC 1542-7, p. 272).

Occ. In funeral list 16 Feb. 1547 (LC 2/2 f. 28r).

 

Edward VI

1547

St. John, William (Paulet) 1st Lord (cr. Earl of Wiltshire 19 Jan. 1550)

Occ. In coronation list 20 Feb. 1547 (LC 2/3/1 p.73).

Vac. 2 Feb. 1550 on app. As Lord Treasurer (Wriothesley's Chronicle, ii, 32; J. Stow, Annales (1631), p.603).

 

1550

Warwick, John (Dudley) 1st Earl of (cr. Duke of Northumberland 11 Oct. 1551)

App. 2 Feb. 1550 (Wriothesley's Chronicle, ii, 32; Stow, Annales, p. 603); gt. of office for office by letters patent 20 Feb. 1550 (CPR 1549-51, pp. 189-90).

Occ. In funeral list 8 Aug. 1553 (LC 2/4/1 f. 11r).

 

Mary I

1553

Arundel, Henry (Fitzalan) 12th Earl of

Apparently served throughout reign.

 

Elizabeth I

1558

Arundel, Henry (Fitzalan) 12th Earl of

Continued in office on accession of Queen (CSP Ven, vii, 3).

Occ. In coronation list 15 Jan. 1559 (LC 2/4/3 p. 81).

Last occ. 15 May 1564 (CPR 1563-6, p. 121 (492)).

 

1564

Office vacant

Office void 14 Aug. 1564 (CPR 1563-6, p. 184 (931)).

No occ. In household subsidy roll 8 Mar. 1567 (E 179/69/82).

 

1567

Pembroke, William (Herbert) 1st Earl of

First occ. 8 June 1567 (CPR 1566-9, p. 119(772)).

D. in office 17 Mar. 1570 (CSPD Addenda 1566-79, pp. 261, 279).

 

1570-87

Household office vacant

No occ. In household subsidy roll 8 July 1576 (E 179/69/93).

 

Temporary Lord Stewards served as follows:

 

Clinton, Edward (Clinton otherwise Fiennes) 9th Lord (cr. Earl of Lincoln 4 May 1572)

For the parliaments of 1571 (CJ, I, 82) and 1572-81 (ibid. 94, 116; LJ, ii, 23-53).

 

Leicester, Robert (Dudley) 1st Earl of

For the parliament of 1584-5 (LJ, ii, 64-108).

 

Derby, Henry (Stanley) 4th Earl of

For the parliament of 1586-7 (LJ, ii, 116-141).

 

1587

Leicester, Robert (Dudley) 1st Earl of

App. by 12 July 1587 (CSPSpan 1587-1603, p.122), probably by 21 June 1587 when Earl of Essex, his successor as Master of the Horse, admitted (C 66/1321, recited in letters patent to Essex 23 Dec. 1587).

D., apparently in office 4 Sept. 1588.

1588-1603

Household office vacant

No occ. In household subsidy rolls 10 Nov. 1590 (E 179/266/13), 22 Oct. 1598 (E 179/70/107), 29 Apr. 1602 (E 179/70/115).

 

Temporary Lord Stewards served as follows:

 

Derby, Henry (Stanley) 4th Earl of

For the parliaments of 1589 (LJ, ii, 146-167) and 1593 (ibid. 169-190)

 

Nottingham, Charles (Howard) 1st Earl of

For the parliaments of 1597-8 (Sydney's Letters of State, ed. A. Collins (1746), ii, 75; LJ, ii, 192-224) and 1601 (LJ, ii, 227-59).

 

James I

1603-15

Household office vacant; temporary Lord Steward served as follows :

 

Nottingham, Charles (Howard) 1st Earl of

For the parliaments of 1604-10 (CJ, I, 140; LJ, ii, 264-682) and 1614 (CJ, i, 455; LJ, ii, 687-716).

 

1615

Lennox, Ludovic (Stuart) 2nd Duke of (cr. Duke of Richmond 17 May 1623)

App. 1 Nov. 1615 (Camden, Annals, CHECK; CSPVen, xiv, 61).

D. in office 16 Feb. 1624 (LS 13/6).

 

1624

Hamilton, James (Hamilton) 2nd Marquess of

Admitted 17 Feb. 1624 (LS 13/6).

D., apparently in office, 2 Mar. 1625.

 

1625

Office vacant on d. of King 27 Mar, 1625.

No occ. In funeral list 20 May 1625 (LC 2/6 f. 27r).

 

Charles I

1625

Household office vacant; temporary stewards served as follows:

 

Pembroke, William (Herbert) 3rd Earl of

For the parliament of 1625 (LJ, iii, 435-489).

 

Worcester, Edward (Somerset) 4th Earl of

For the parliament of 1626 (CJ, I, 816; LJ, iii, 492-681).

 

1626

Pembroke, William (Herbert) 3rd Earl of

App. c. 3 Aug. 1626 (CSPD 1625-6, p. 396).

D., apparently in office, 10 Apr. 1630.

 

1630-40

Office vacant

 

1640

Arundel, Thomas (Howard) 18th Earl of

App. 12 Apr. 1640 (DNB).

First occ. 13 Apr. 1640 (CJ, iii, 3).

Last occ. 7 Aug. 1641 (LS 13/251 p. 171).

Res. Aug. 1641 (DNB).

[D. 4 Oct. 1646]

 

1641

Richmond, James (Stuart) 1st Duke of

App. c. 9 Dec. 1641 (CSPD 1641-3, p. 192; CSPVen, xxv, 261 (305)).

Last occ. 18 July 1642 (LS 13/169).

[D. 30 Mar. 1655]

 

Footnotes

1 Statutes of the Realm, iii, 729-80

2 Ibid., iii, 792-3; ibid. iv, 229-30

3 LP, xii (2), 191(36); CPR 1549-51, p. 189-90

4 G. Goodman, The Court of King James I (1839), I 191; N. Pronay and J. Taylor, Parliamentary Texts of the Later Middle Ages (Oxford, 1980), p. 185

5 Statutes of the Realm, iv, 404-5

6 CSPSpan 1587-1603, p. 122

7 CSPVen, xiv, 61

8 LP, xvi, 394 (5) (1540); Stowe MS 571 f. 29 (1552-3); ibid. 575 f. 26 (1616)

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