Lord High Steward

The position of Lord High Steward is the first of the Great Officers of State in England, nominally ranking above the Lord Chancellor and the Prime Minister.

The office has generally remained vacant since 1421, and is now an ad hoc office that is primarily ceremonial and is filled only for a coronation.

At coronations of the British monarch, the Lord High Steward bears St Edward's Crown. The Lord High Steward has the sole legal power to preside over impeachment trials of peers (which last happened in 1806). The trial of peers by their peers (a law which applied for felonies) was abolished in 1948. In general, but not invariably, the Lord Chancellor was deputised (to act as Lord High Steward) in the felony trials. There was a "Court of the Lord High Steward" which served this purpose when Parliament was not in session.

Initially the position was largely an honorary one. It grew in importance until its holder became one of the most powerful men of the kingdom. From the late 12th century, the office was considered to be bound with the Earldom of Leicester. When the House of Lancaster ascended the throne in 1399, Henry IV made his second son, Thomas of Lancaster, Duke of Clarence, Lord High Steward. He held the post until his death in 1421.

The equivalent offices in Scotland and Ireland respectively are the Great Steward of Scotland (always held by the heir to the throne, known in Scotland as the Duke of Rothesay) and the Lord High Steward of Ireland (held by the Earls of Shrewsbury, who are also Earls of Waterford in the Peerage of Ireland).

Lord High Stewards of England, 1154–1421Edit

Lord High Stewards of England, 1422–presentEdit

Incomplete before 1660.


Name Year Notes Ref.
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester 1429 Coronation of King Henry VI (Humphrey's nephew) [1]
Thomas de Courtenay, 5th/13th Earl of Devon 1445 Coronation of Margaret of Anjou [citation needed]
John de la Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk 1461 Coronation of King Edward IV (brother of Pole's wife, Elizabeth of York) [citation needed]
George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence 1465 Coronation of Elizabeth Woodville (wife of George's brother, Edward IV) [2]
John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk 1483 Coronation of King Richard III (Howard's close friend) and his wife Anne Neville [citation needed]
John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford 1485 Coronation of King Henry VII (Vere was commander of Henry's army at the Battle of Bosworth Field) [3]
Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford 1487 Coronation of Elizabeth of York (Tudor was half-brother to the late Henry VI and paternal uncle to Henry VII)
Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham 1509 Coronation of King Henry VIII and his wife Queen Catherine [4]
The Duke of Suffolk 1533 Coronation of Queen Anne [5]
The Baron Russell 1547 Coronation of King Edward VI [6]
The Earl of Derby 1553 Coronation of Queen Mary I [7]
The Earl of Arundel 1559 Coronation of Queen Elizabeth I [8]
The Earl of Nottingham 1603 Coronation of King James I and his wife Queen Anne [9]
The Duke of Buckingham 1626 Coronation of King Charles I [10]
The Duke of Ormond 1661 Coronation of King Charles II [11]
1685 Coronation of King James II and his wife Queen Mary
The Earl of Devonshire 1689 Coronation of King William III and Queen Mary II
The Duke of Devonshire 1702 Coronation of Queen Anne
The Duke of Grafton 1714 Coronation of King George I
The Duke of Dorset 1727 Coronation of King George II and his wife Queen Caroline
The Earl Talbot 1761 Coronation of King George III and his wife Queen Charlotte
The Marquess of Anglesey 1821 Coronation of King George IV
The Duke of Hamilton and Brandon 1831 Coronation of King William IV and his wife Queen Adelaide
1838 Coronation of Queen Victoria
The Duke of Marlborough 1902 Coronation of King Edward VII and his wife Queen Alexandra [12]
The Duke of Northumberland 1911 Coronation of King George V and his wife Queen Mary [13]
The Marquess of Salisbury 1937 Coronation of King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth [14]
The Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope 1953 Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II [15]

Trials of PeersEdit

Name Year Notes Ref.
Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham 1478 Trial of George, Duke of Clarence (brother of Edward IV, whose ward Stafford was)
John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford 1499 Trial of Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick (the last male-line Yorkist)
Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk 1503 Trial of Edward Sutton, 2nd Baron Dudley [citation needed]
Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk 1521 Trial of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham [citation needed]
Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk 1534 Trial of William Dacre, 3rd Baron Dacre [citation needed]
1536 Trial of Anne Boleyn (Howard's niece) [citation needed]
Henry Courtenay, 1st Marquess of Exeter 1537 Trial of Thomas Darcy, 1st Baron Darcy de Darcy (Courtenay was a first-cousin to Henry VIII)
Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden 1538 Trial of Henry Pole, 1st Baron Montagu and Henry Courtenay, 1st Marquess of Exeter (cousins; scions of the House of York)
1541 Trial of Thomas Fiennes, 9th Baron Dacre
William Paulet, 1st Marquess of Winchester 1551 Trial of Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset (fallen Lord Protector, regent and uncle of Edward VI; Paulet was one of the 16 executors) [16]
Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk 1553 Trial of John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland (fallen regent) [citation needed]
Henry FitzAlan, 19th Earl of Arundel 1557 Trial of Lord Stourton (FitzAlan was a godson of Henry VIII; Stourton a nephew of Dudley)
William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton 1559 Trial of Thomas Wentworth, 2nd Baron Wentworth (Parr was brother to the late queen Catherine; Wentworth a cousin of Seymour)
George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury 1571 Trial of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk
William Paulet, 3rd Marquess of Winchester 1587 Funeral of Mary, Queen of Scots (Paulet was a judge at her trial) [citation needed]
Henry Stanley, 4th Earl of Derby 1589 Trial of Philip Howard, 20th Earl of Arundel
Thomas Sackville, 1st Baron Buckhurst 1601 Trial of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (a favourite of Elizabeth I)
Thomas Coventry, 1st Baron Coventry 1631 Trial of Mervyn Tuchet, 2nd Earl of Castlehaven (Coventry was Lord Keeper) [citation needed]
Thomas Howard, 21st Earl of Arundel 1641 Trial of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford (Howard was the Earl Marshal; Wentworth the former Deputy of Ireland)
Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon
(Lord Chancellor)
1666 Trial of Thomas Park, 15th Baron Morley (Hyde was a member of Charles' exile court)
Heneage Finch, 1st Baron Finch
(Lord Chancellor)
1676 Trial of Charles Cornwallis, 3rd Baron Cornwallis
Trial of Philip Herbert, 7th Earl of Pembroke
1679 Trial of Thomas Osborne, 1st Earl of Danby (later 1st Duke of Leeds)
1679 Trial of William Herbert, 1st Earl of Powis; William Howard, 1st Viscount Stafford; Henry Arundell, 3rd Baron Arundell of Wardour; William Petre, 4th Baron Petre; and John Belasyse, 1st Baron Belasyse
1680 Trial of William Howard, 1st Viscount Stafford,
George Jeffreys, 1st Baron Jeffreys
(Lord Chancellor)
1686 Trial of Henry Booth, 2nd Baron Delamere
Thomas Osborne, 1st Marquess of Carmarthen (later 1st Duke of Leeds)
(Lord President of the Council)
1693 Trial of Charles Mohun, 4th Baron Mohun
John Somers, 1st Baron Somers
(Lord Chancellor)
1699 Trial of Edward Rich, 6th Earl of Warwick; and of Charles Mohun, 4th Baron Mohun
William Cowper, 1st Baron Cowper
(Lord Chancellor)
1716 Trial of James Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater; William Widdrington, 4th Baron Widdrington; William Maxwell, 5th Earl of Nithsdale; Robert Dalzell, 5th Earl of Carnwath; William Gordon, 6th Viscount of Kenmure; and William Murray, 2nd Lord Nairne
1716 Trial of George Seton, 5th Earl of Winton
1717 Trial of Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer
Peter King, 1st Baron King
(Lord Chancellor)
1725 Trial of Thomas Parker, 1st Earl of Macclesfield
Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke
(Lord Chancellor)
1746 Trial of William Boyd, 4th Earl of Kilmarnock; George Mackenzie, 3rd Earl of Cromartie; and Arthur Elphinstone, 6th Lord Balmerino
1747 Trial of Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat
Robert Henley, 1st Baron Henley
(Lord Keeper)
1760 Trial of Laurence Shirley, 4th Earl Ferrers
Robert Henley, 1st Earl of Northington
(Lord Chancellor)
1765 Trial of William Byron, 5th Baron Byron
Henry Bathurst, 2nd Earl Bathurst
(Lord Chancellor)
1776 Trial of Elizabeth Pierrepont, Duchess of Kingston-upon-Hull
Edward Thurlow, 1st Baron Thurlow
(Lord Chancellor; until 1793)
1788–1795 Trial of Warren Hastings
Alexander Wedderburn, 1st Baron Loughborough
(Lord Chancellor; from 1793)
Thomas Erskine, 1st Baron Erskine
(Lord Chancellor)
1806 Trial of Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville
Thomas Denman, 1st Baron Denman
(Lord Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench)
1841 Trial of James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan
Hardinge Giffard, 1st Earl of Halsbury
(Lord Chancellor)
1901 Trial of Frank Russell, 2nd Earl Russell
John Lambton, 3rd Earl of Durham 1911–1912 Lord High Steward to George V during his visit to India from 1911 to 1912 [17]
Douglas Hogg, 1st Viscount Hailsham
(Lord Chancellor)
1935 Trial of Edward Russell, 26th Baron de Clifford (last trial of a peer in the House of Lords)


  1. ^ Proceedings and Ordinances of the Privy Council of England, Vol. 4 (8 H. VI to 14 H. VI), ed. by Sir Harris Nicholas, 1835, pp. 3-4; (here linked as pdf), 1835
  2. ^ Hipshon, David (26 August 2011), Richard III and the Death of Chivalry, by David Hipshon, 2011, ISBN 9780752469157
  3. ^ Baumgaertner, Wm. E. (2010), Squires, Knights, Barons, Kings: War and Politics in Fifteenth Century England; by Wm. E. Baumgaertner, 2010, ISBN 9781426907692
  4. ^ Stafford was ward of Henry VIII's grandmother, Margaret Beaufort
  5. ^ Brandon's wife, Mary Tudor, was Henry VIII's sister
  6. ^ Russell was one of the 16 executors of the will of Henry VIII
  7. ^ Stanley was a ward of King Henry VIII
  8. ^ "The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth". History Today. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  9. ^ Howard was Lord High Admiral, and a cousin to the late Thomas, 4th Duke of Norfolk
  10. ^ Villiers was Lord High Admiral, and a favourite of King Charles I father, King James I
  11. ^ Butler was a leading figure in the exile court of King Charles II
  12. ^ "No. 27489". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 October 1902. p. 6865.
  13. ^ "No. 28535". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 September 1911. p. 7084.
  14. ^ "No. 34453". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 November 1937. p. 7051.
  15. ^ "No. 40020". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 November 1953. p. 6238.
  16. ^ Patrick Cracroft-Brennan, Winchester, Marquess of (E, 1551). Accessed 19 July 2014.
  17. ^ "No. 28536". The London Gazette. 29 September 1911. p. 7121.

External linksEdit