Gentleman Usher

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Gentleman Usher is a title for some officers of the Royal Household of the United Kingdom. See List of Gentlemen Ushers for a list of office-holders.

Gentlemen Ushers as servants[edit]

Historical[edit]

Gentlemen Ushers were originally a class of servants found not only in the Royal Household, but in lesser establishments as well. They were regularly found in the households of Tudor noblemen, and were prescribed by Richard Brathwait, in his Household of an Earle, as one of the "officers and Servants the state of an Earle requireth to have". The Gentlemen Ushers occupied a level intermediate between the steward, the usual head, and the ordinary servants; they were responsible for overseeing the work of the servants "above stairs", particularly those who cooked and waited upon the nobleman at meals, and saw to it the great chamber was kept clean by the lesser servants. He was also responsible for overseeing other miscellaneous service, such as the care of the nobleman's chapel and bed-chambers. It was traditionally the gentleman usher who swore in new members of the nobleman's service.[1]

The duties of a gentleman usher, not unlike those of a contemporary butler, made him quite important in Tudor and 17th century households. George Chapman's play The Gentleman Usher has as its title character the pompous but easily fooled Bassiolo, Gentleman Usher to Lord Lasso.

The Gentlemen Ushers of the Royal Household, in order of precedence, were originally the four Gentlemen Ushers of the Privy Chamber (who attended the Sovereign in the Privy Chamber), the four Gentlemen Ushers Daily Waiters, and the eight Gentlemen Ushers Quarter(ly) Waiters. The latter two originally served different terms of service, but the distinction later became only nominal, as the role of the Gentlemen Ushers became increasingly ceremonial and they exercised less supervision over the staff. In 1901, King Edward VII abolished the three classes and began to appoint simply Gentlemen Ushers in Ordinary.

Contemporary[edit]

Gentlemen Ushers to The Queen are generally appointed from retired military, naval and air force officers (and occasionally civilians) for irregular and infrequent attendance at royal events. They are used for Garden Parties, and Investitures, where they act as ushers. Ushers, who are unpaid, retire at 70, when they may become Extra Gentlemen Ushers.

Particular Gentlemen Ushers[edit]

Certain Gentlemen Ushers have duties outside of the Royal Household, usually attached either as officers of an order of knighthood or to a House of Parliament. These are, in order of antiquity:

Gentlemen Ushers of the Black Rod also exist for New Zealand, Australia and its states, and Canada.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jones, Paul V.B (1918). The Household of a Tudor Nobleman. University of Illinois. Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  2. ^ Hallen, Arthur Washington Cornelius; Stevenson, John Horne (April 1897). "The Usher of the White Rod". The Scottish Antiquary, Or, Northern Notes & Queries (W. Green and Sons) XI (44): 158–170. Retrieved 2007-08-04.