Comptroller of the Household

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The Comptroller of the Household is an ancient position in the English royal household, currently the second-ranking member of the Lord Steward's department, and often a government whip. He was an ex officio member of the Board of Green Cloth, until that body was abolished in the reform of the local government licensing in 2004. The Comptroller had a white staff of office, usually seen in portraits–and so was a counterpart to Black Rod.[1]


"Comptroller" is the archaic spelling of "controller", recorded since c.1500 (in a number of British titles, later also in the USA). The variant in spelling results from the contaminating influence (so-called popular etymology) of French compte "account".

In modern times, the Comptroller has become a less prominent position in British politics. He is one of the Government whips in the House of Commons, and his responsibilities for the Royal Household are now purely nominal, except being occasionally called upon to act as an usher at Royal Garden Parties. The current Comptroller of the Household is Don Foster.

Known incumbents[edit]

15th century[edit]

16th century[edit]

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21st century[edit]


  1. ^ Astington, John (1999). English Court Theatre, 1558–1642. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. p. 177. ISBN 978-0-521-64065-7. 
  2. ^ The history of the house of Stanley, etc p.41
  3. ^ "Charlton, Sir Thomas". Oxford DNB. Retrieved 2011-12-01. 
  4. ^ a b c  "Parr, William (1434-1483?)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  5. ^ a b c d The Household of Edward IV, Manchester University Press ND. Google ebook
  6. ^ a b The DNB gives Sir William Parr as Comptroller of the Household from 1471-1483; Household of Edward IV gives Parr's office dates as 1471-1475 and again in 1481-1483.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab Green Cloth officeholders
  8. ^ J. Palmer, A Biographical History of England (1824), 86–7.