Officials of the Royal Household, 1660-1837. Part 1: Department of the Lord Chamberlain and Associated Offices compiled by J.C. Sainty and R.O. Bucholz. Published by the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, Senate House, London WC1E 7HU, England. 1997. xcviii, 190 pp. Illustrations, introduction. Hardcover. £22.

This is the first of two volumes designed to make available lists of officials who served in the royal household between the Restoration in May 1660 and the death of William IV in June 1837. This volume covers the officers who served above stairs under the general authority of the lord chamberlain, with some additions such as the staff of the great wardrobe. Officers under the authority of the lord steward and the master of the horse will be in volume two.

The lists include the principal officers of the sub-departments, omitting the subordinate staff. This means that not everybody in the royal household will be found in this book. This will disappoint some readers trying to verify the family tradition that their ancestor was a member of the King’s household.

The book is divided into three sections. The first is a lengthy introduction describing the development of the royal household and its offices, putting them into a fuller context. It explains how the size and administration of the household changed depending upon the monarch and the politics of the time period. The court provided a rally point for the English ruling classes and many listed here will also be found in the Complete Peerage, Complete Baronetage and Burke’s Peerage.

The second section, lists all appointments beginning with a brief summary often giving salaries, a time period when the position was functioning, and the names of all officers. This section makes fascinating reading with, for modern readers, some strange positions: Sewers of the Great Chamber, Revels, Women of the Bed Chamber, Gentlemen of the Bed Chamber, Removing Wardrobe, Clerk of the Closet.

The third section, is a biographical index, providing a summarized account of the offices held by each individual within the household. No other information is included unless directly relevant to that purpose, such as died in office. The accounts of those still in office in 1837 have not been continued. Peers and holders of courtesy titles are indexed under their titles. The sources for each piece of information is well cited making this a valuable tool for further research.

This book provides a fascinating analysis of the functioning of the royal household and its officers. It is a useful index for those with ancestors at this level of society.

Reviewed by Paul Milner
BIGWILL v.5 no.5, 1998