Groom of the Chamber

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Groom of the Chamber and Groom of the Privy Chamber were positions in the Royal Household of the English monarchy, the latter considerably more elevated. Other Ancien Régime royal establishments in Europe had comparable officers, often with similar titles. In France, the Duchy of Burgundy, and in England while French was still the language of the court, the title was varlet or valet de chambre. In German, Danish and Russian the term was "Kammerjunker" and in Swedish the similar "Kammarjunkare".

In England[edit]

Traditionally, the English Court was organized into three branches or departments:

  1. the Household, primarily concerned with fiscal more than domestic matters, the "royal purse;"
  2. the Chamber, concerned with the Presence Chamber, the Privy chamber, and other more public rooms of the royal palaces, as the Bedchamber was concerned with the innermost.
  3. the Bedchamber, focused on the most direct and intimate aspects of the lives of the royal family, with its own offices, like the Groom of the Body and the Squire of the Body;

The Chamber organization was controlled by the Lord Chamberlain; if he was the general of a small army of servitors, the Grooms of the Chamber were his junior officers, with ushers and footmen the footsoldiers. The Grooms wore the royal livery (in earlier periods), served as general attendants, and fulfilled a wide range of specific functions. (One Groom of the Chamber had the job of handing the "King's Stuff" to a Squire of the Body, who would then dress the King.) Grooms ranked below Gentlemen of the Chamber, usually important noblemen, but above Yeomen of the Chamber. They were mostly well-born, on a first rung of a courtier's career.

The office of Groom of the Chamber could also be bestowed in a more honorific manner, upon people who served the royal household in some less direct way. The early Tudor poet Stephen Hawes became a Groom of the Chamber in 1502, under Henry VII.[1] In the reigns of the early monarchs of the House of Stuart, James I and Charles I, the actors of the King's Men, the playing company under royal patronage, were officially "Grooms extraordinary of the Chamber". They did not usually fulfill the normal functions of the office; rather, they served the King by performing plays for him. Although on busy occasions, the King's Men appear to have acted as more ordinary servants: in August 1604 they were "waiting and attending" upon the Spanish ambassador at Somerset House, "on his Majesty's service" — but no plays were performed.)[2] They were also turned out to bulk up the Household for grand ceremonial occasions.

A similar arrangement held for some of Queen Anne's Men, including their playwright Thomas Heywood; they became Grooms of the Queen's Chamber, under the Queen's Chamberlain.[3] On some occasions, Shakespeare, Heywood, and their compatriots wore the royal livery, marched in processions, and played other roles in the ceremonial life of the monarchy. (Grooms could not be arrested for debt without the permission of the Lord Chamberlain — a big advantage for sometimes-struggling actors.) In at least two cases, those of George Bryan (Lord Chamberlain's Men) and John Singer (Queen Elizabeth's Men; Admiral's Men), professional actors became "normal" Grooms of the Chamber, with the normal duties, after retiring from the stage.

Grooms of the Bedchamber were close to the King and were occasionally sent overseas as special envoys to negotiate royal marriages and such. During the exile of James II a court was maintained by that king in France and certain of his grooms joined him there. Similarly, during the last years of the reign of King George III, when he withdrew from public life in consequence of his poor mental health, several of his grooms followed him to Windsor Castle, whilst others remained in London to serve the Prince Regent, later to become King George IV. When the Monarch was a Queen, the positions of Groom of the Bedchamber were not filled.

List of Grooms of the Privy Chamber[edit]

1660–1685

Date
6 June 1660 Maurice Wynn James Elliott Robert Thompson
7 June 1660 Adam Hill
10 June 1660 Adrian May
12 June 1660 James Progers
17 May 1661 Roger Burgess
27 January 1669 Thomas Ross
30 April 1670 Arthur Ingram
15 May 1671 Thomas Cooke
15 May 1672 Paul French
17 May 1673 John Lowther
25 June 1673 Christopher Jeffreys
8 July 1676 John Bellingham
18 December 1676 Humphrey Graves
11 October 1677 Richard Binns
20 May 1678 Yelverton Peyton
23 October 1680 Edward Lloyd
20 August 1683 John Radcliffe

1685–1688

Date
February 1685 Robert Thompson Christopher Jeffreys

1689–1901

Date
February 1689 Robert Thompson Christopher Jeffreys
28 March 1689 Thomas Duppa Humphrey Graves
12 January 1694 David Carbonell
29 July 1695 William Wallis
30 November 1695 William Whitmore
22 December 1699 Robert Barkham
19 May 1700 Robert Wallis
25 October 1701 Cornelius Tilburgh
9 July 1702 John Bonning Robert Hemmington
26 March 1711 Cornelius Tilburgh
28 May 1715 Joseph Ashley
3 February 1719 James Trymmer
12 August 1719 Edward Parsons
25 November 1720 John Parsons
10 December 1728 Langham Edwards
11 May 1729 Wentworth Odiarne
2 June 1740 Charles Collins
7 June 1745 Edward Capell
24 February 1750 Charles Husband Collins
3 June 1762 Strelley Pegge
8 October 1762 Samuel Pegge
5 July 1774 John Larpent
6 July 1774 Thomas Collins
24 October 1778 William Fordyce
24 February 1781 James Trail
18 November 1781 James Hawkins
7 March 1785 Hale Young Wortham
March 1788 Richard Byron
5 February 1794 Edmund Armstrong
19 October 1797 Robert Chester
29 July 1798 James Meller
1799 James Whitshed
23 May 1800 John Hunter
18 May 1802 William Chapman Fowle
19 August 1808 Frederick Chapman
3 June 1812 William Fenton Scott
6 July 1814 Robert Powell
12 August 1818 William Beresford
12 December 1823 Charles Dashwood
21 April 1832 Courtenay Edmund William Boyle
23 April 1833 Thomas Shiffner
6 May 1836 Arthur Johnstone Blackwood
1 November 1839 Stewart Henry Paget[5]
24 February 1840 Thomas Noel Harris[6]
1 March 1852 Hon. Mortimer Sackville-West[7]
13 July 1852 Samuel Randall[8]
16 February 1859 John Home Purves[9]
31 March 1860 John Francis Campbell, of Islay[10]
2 October 1862 Edward Stopford Claremont[11]
3 July 1867 Hon. Roden Berkeley Wriothesley Noel[12]
14 January 1871 Hon. Charles George Cornwallis Eliot[13]
8 January 1874 James Bontein[14]
16 February 1874 Nathaniel George Philips[15]
24 October 1884 Arnold Royle[16]
25 July 1890 Malcolm Drummond, of Megginch[17]
1 October 1893 Hon. Otway Frederick Seymour Cuffe[18]
14 November 1899 Sir Francis Knollys

List of Grooms of the Bedchamber[edit]

Charles I (1625–1649)

Commonwealth (1649–1660)

No Grooms of the Bedchamber appointed

Charles II (1661–1685)

Date
1 Feb 1661 John Ashburnham Daniel O'Neill Henry Seymour
2 Feb 1661 Thomas Elliot Thomas Killigrew Richard Lane Robert Phillips Silius Titus David Walter
3 Feb 1661 Edward Proger
6 Feb 1661 William Legge
1 Jan 1662 Hon. Henry Coventry
28 Oct 1664 James Hamilton
1 Oct 1670 Sidney Godolphin
16 June 1671 Thomas Felton
21 June 1672 Bernard Granville
7 June 1673 Henry Savile
8 July 1675 Henry Guy
August 1677 George Porter
18 July 1678 George Rodney Bridges
April 1679 Thomas Wyndham
16 May 1679 Thomas Lee
26 Nov 1679 Thomas Neale
March 1683 Bevil Skelton
15 May 1683 Francis Gwyn
19 Dec 1683 Henry Killigrew

James II (1685–1688)

Date
2 May 1685 James Fortrey Oliver Nicholas Henry Slingsby Hon. Heneage Finch Richard Leveson Hon. James Griffin Francis Russell David Lloyd
1686 James Porter
9 March 1687 Richard Bagot

William III (1689–1702)

Date
6 June 1689 Percy Kirke Hatton Compton Charles Trelawny Emanuel Scrope Howe John Sayers Adrian van Borselen Hon. James Stanley
March 1690 Arnold Joost van Keppel
29 Apr 1691 Hon. Thomas Windsor
January 1692 Hon. George Cholmondeley
6 May 1695 Thomas Wentworth

Anne (1702–1714) No Grooms of the Bedchamber appointed

George I (1714–1727)

Date
20 Sep 1714 Hon. William Kerr James Tyrrell
16 Oct 1714 James Dormer Hon. Charles Howard William Breton George Feilding
21 Oct 1714 Henry Cornewall Philip Honywood
15 June 1715 Sir Gustavus Hume
13 May 1719 Hon. William Finch
11 June 1720 Sir Wilfrid Lawson
10 Aug 1721 Hon. Charles Cornwallis
24 June 1722
25 May 1723 Hon. Robert Sawyer Herbert

George II (1727–1760)

Date
21 Aug 1727 Sir Robert Rich
14 Sep 1727 Thomas Paget Hon. Charles Lumley John Selwyn Charles Churchill Hon. Charles Cathcart John Campbell Hon. Sir James Campbell Sir Charles Hotham
7 May 1731 John Clavering
7 May 1733 Hon. James Brudenell
22 April 1740 Hon. William Herbert
14 July 1742 Hon. Edward Finch
20 Jan 1746 John Mostyn
22 Jan 1747 Hon. Edward Cornwallis Hon. John Waldegrave, 3rd Earl Waldegrave
5 April 1757 Hon. Henry Seymour Conway
4 June 1757 John Offley
16 Jan 1760 Charles FitzRoy
19 Jan 1760 Hon. Richard Savage Nassau

George III (1760–1820)

Date
27 Nov 1760 John Mostyn Hon. John Waldegrave John Offley Charles FitzRoy George Schutz Sir James Peachey Edmund Nugent Sir William Breton Hon. Edward Cornwallis Hon. Henry Seymour Conway
10 Dec 1760 Spencer Compton
11 Dec 1760 George Pitt Norborne Berkeley William Northey
17 Feb 1761 Hon. Augustus Keppel
10 Oct 1762
21 Dec 1762 Sir James Wright
19 Jan1763 Sir John Mordaunt
16 Feb 1763 Henry Seymour
5 May 1763 Sir Charles Hotham-Thompson
5 Nov 1763 Hon. Augustus John Hervey
April 1764 *
24 Aug 1765 Hon. Henry Wallop
3 Dec 1766 Hon. William Harcourt
23 April 1770 Hon. Henry Vernon
16 May 1770 Sir George Osborn
10 May 1771 Thomas de Grey
17 May 1771 Hon. Henry St John
3 Dec 1771 Philip Hales
8 Feb 1773 *
28 March 1775 Hon. William Gordon
18 June 1777 Charles Herbert
22 Feb 1779 Francis Lascelles
17 Jan 1783 Hon. George Villiers
19 August 1784 Robert Waller
20 Jan1788 James Whorwood Adeane
3 June 1791 Hon. Robert Digby
26 Jan 1793 Hon. Thomas Fane
29 March 1800 Hon. Robert Fulke Greville
30 May 1801 Hon. Arthur Kaye Legge Sir Harry Burrard-Neale
27 April 1802 Hon. Edward Finch
24 May 1804
15 April 1807 *
31 Oct 1808 Hon. Edward Capel
1 Nov 1808 Edward Pery Buckley
4 March 1809 Henry Frederick Campbell
2 June 1809 Hon. Frederick West
18 Feb 1812
10 March 1812 Hon. William Keppel Thomas Sloughter Stanwix Edmund Stevens Wilson Braddyll Hon. William Lumley Charles Nassau Thomas Hon. Henry Fitzroy Stanhope Charles Leigh
10 April 1812 Sir John Francis Cradock
28 July 1812 Hon. Augustus Cavendish-Bradshaw Hon. Charles William Stewart Tomkyns Hilgrove Turner
6 June 1816 Hon. Sir Edward Paget
6 Sep 1816 Sir George Campbell
5 Jan 1817 Hon. Henry King
21 Nov 1818 Joseph Whatley
19 Oct 1819 Sir Edmund Nagle

George IV (1820–1830)

Date
January 1820 Hon. Edward Finch Hon. William Keppel Edmund Stevens Hon. William Lumley Charles Nassau Thomas Hon. Henry Fitzroy Stanhope Hon. Augustus Cavendish-Bradshaw Tomkyns Hilgrove Turner Hon. Sir Edward Paget Sir George Campbell Hon. Henry King Joseph Whatley Sir Edmund Nagle
4 April 1820 Lord Francis Nathaniel Conyngham
24 Jan 1821 Sir Andrew Francis Barnard
11 Oct 1821 Hon. Sir Charles Paget
7 Sep 1825 Sir William Houston
27 May 1828 Thomas Armstrong
24 Sep 1828 Hon. John Robert Townshend
14 Feb 1830 Hon. George Cecil Weld-Forester
15 March 1830 Henry Thomas Hope

William IV (1830–1837)

Date
June 1830 Hon. Edward Finch Hon. William Keppel Hon. William Lumley Hon. Augustus Cavendish-Bradshaw Tomkyns Hilgrove Turner Joseph Whatley Hon. Sir Charles Paget Sir William Houston Thomas Armstrong Hon. John Robert Townshend Hon. George Cecil Weld-Forester Henry Thomas Hope
17 July 1830 Sir Hussey Vivian
24 July 1830 Hon. Sir Robert Cavendish Spencer
30 Nov 1830 Hon. Sir Henry Blackwood, 1st Baronet
23 Dec 1830 Sir Robert Waller Otway
31 Jan 1831 Sir James Reynett
24 Feb 1831 Hon. George Pryse Campbell
12 Nov 1832 Sir Charles Rowley
15 Dec 1832 Thomas William Taylor
20 June 1837 Accession of Queen Victoria. Post became redundant.

In France[edit]

The French portrait painter Jean Clouet (c. 1485–1540) was appointed a valet de chambre groom of the chamber of the French monarchy in 1523, as was his son François Clouet later. The office could serve as a sinecure to provide a minimum income and social place for someone who enjoyed royal favor.

Many noble households in Europe had their own grooms of the chamber, known by various titles. See Valet de chambre for a fuller account.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^  "Hawes, Stephen". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  2. ^ Halliday, p. 460; spellings modernized.
  3. ^ At that time, Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester (1563–1626), younger brother of Sir Philip Sidney.
  4. ^ C. E. Challis, 'Sharington, Sir William (c. 1495–1553), administrator and embezzler', in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, September 2004
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 19787. p. 2111. 8 November 1839.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 19829. p. 409. 24 February 1840.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 21297. p. 670. 2 March 1852.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: no. 21342. p. 2010. 20 July 1852.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 22231. p. 641. 18 February 1859.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: no. 22371. p. 1252. 30 March 1860.
  11. ^ The London Gazette: no. 22668. p. 4723. 3 October 1862.
  12. ^ The London Gazette: no. 23282. p. 4169. 26 July 1867.
  13. ^ The London Gazette: no. 23697. p. 169. 17 January 1871.
  14. ^ The London Gazette: no. 24054. p. 183. 16 January 1874.
  15. ^ The London Gazette: no. 24067. p. 765. 20 February 1874.
  16. ^ The London Gazette: no. 25409. p. 4653. 28 October 1884.
  17. ^ The London Gazette: no. 26073. p. 4101. 25 July 1890.
  18. ^ The London Gazette: no. 26448. p. 5691. 10 October 1893.

References[edit]

  • Bucholz, R. O. The Database of Court Officers 1660-1837. Loyola University of Chicago.
  • Brown, Cedric C., ed. Patronage, Politics, and Literary Traditions in England, 1558-1658. Detroit, Wayne State University Press, 1993.
  • Halliday, F. E. A Shakespeare Companion 1564–1964. Baltimore, Penguin, 1964.
  • Walter, James. Shakespeare's True Life. London, Longmans, Green & Co., 1890; reprinted Kessinger Publishing, 2003.

External links[edit]