Arthur Bigge, 1st Baron Stamfordham

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Lieutenant-Colonel The Right Honourable
The Lord Stamfordham
Arthur John Bigge, Vanity Fair, 1900-09-06.jpg
Private Secretary to the Sovereign
In office
Monarch George V
Preceded by The Lord Knollys
Succeeded by Sir Clive Wigram
In office
Monarch Queen Victoria
Preceded by Sir Henry Ponsonby
Succeeded by Sir Francis Knollys
Personal details
Born (1849-06-18)18 June 1849
Died 31 March 1931(1931-03-31) (aged 81)
Nationality United Kingdom British
Alma mater Royal Military Academy

Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur John Bigge, 1st Baron Stamfordham GCB, GCIE, GCVO, KCSI, KCMG, ISO, PC (18 June 1849 – 31 March 1931) was a British Army officer and courtier. He was Private Secretary to Queen Victoria during the last few years of her reign, and to George V during most of his reign. He was the maternal grandfather of Lord Adeane, Private Secretary to Elizabeth II from 1953 to 1972.

Background and education[edit]

Bigge was the son of John Frederic Bigge (1814–1885) Vicar of Stamfordham, Northumberland and the grandson of Charles William Bigge (1773–1849) of Benton House, Little Benton, Newcastle on Tyne and Linden Hall, Longhorsley, Northumberland, High Sheriff of Northumberland and a prominent merchant and banker in Newcastle on Tyne. He was educated at Rossall School and the Royal Military Academy and was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1869.[1]


Bigge was appointed Private Secretary to Queen Victoria in 1895 and served until her death in January 1901. A couple of months later he was appointed Private Secretary to her grandson, the Duke of Cornwall and York (appointed Prince of Wales later the same year).[2] He continued to serve as such on the Prince´s accession to the throne as King George V in 1910, serving until his own death in 1931.[1] As Private Secretary to the sovereign he was sworn of the Privy Council in 1910[3] and elevated to the peerage as Baron Stamfordham, of Stamfordham in the County of Northumberland, in 1911.[4]

Bigge exerted considerable influence over King George,[citation needed] advising the King to change the family name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor; persuading the King to deny asylum to Tsar Nicholas II and his family, who were thus forced to remain in Russia and who were murdered by the Bolsheviks; and interpreting the King's response "Bugger Bognor" as assent to the renaming of Bognor as Bognor Regis.[5]


Bigge married Constance Neville (d. 1922) in 1881: they had a son and two daughters.[1] The son, John Neville Bigge (b. 1887), was killed in action in 1915.[1][6] A daughter, the Honourable Victoria Eugenie, married Captain Henry Robert Augustus Adeane. She was the mother of Michael Adeane, Baron Adeane, Private Secretary to Elizabeth II from 1953 to 1972.[7]

Lord Stamfordham died, still in office, at St James's Palace on 31 March 1931, aged 81, when the barony became extinct.[1]

Styles and honours[edit]


British honours

Foreign honours

Popular culture[edit]

In the 2003 TV drama The Lost Prince he was portrayed, clean shaven, by actor Bill Nighy.


  1. ^ a b c d e William M. Kuhn. "Bigge, Arthur John, Baron Stamfordham (1849–1931)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/31883.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ "no. 27290". The London Gazette. 1 March 1901. p. 1499. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "no. 28384". The London Gazette. 14 June 1910. pp. 4164–4165. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  4. ^ "no. 28512". The London Gazette. 11 July 1911. p. 5168. 
  5. ^ Antonia Fraser, ed. (2000). The House of Windsor. A royal history of England. University of California Press. p. 36. ISBN 0-520-22803-0. 
  6. ^ "Heir to Barony killed". The Argus. Melbourne. 26 May 1915. p. 9. Retrieved 2 April 2012. 
  7. ^ Arthur John Bigge, 1st Baron Stamfordham
  8. ^ "no. 27285". The London Gazette. 15 February 1901. p. 1145. Retrieved 11 October 2012. 
  9. ^ "no. 27380". The London Gazette. 26 November 1901. p. 8087. 
Court offices
Preceded by
Sir Henry Ponsonby
Private Secretary to the Sovereign
Succeeded by
The Viscount Knollys
Preceded by
The Viscount Knollys
Private Secretary to the Sovereign
Succeeded by
Sir Clive Wigram