WAS YOUR ANCESTOR A COURT OFFICER BETWEEN 1660-1837?
By Diana Kennedy
This article was originally published in the April 2013 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society
Diana Kennedy’s husband came across the database of Court Officers from 1660-1837 in which the following people with our surnames were included. There are descriptions of some of the occupations including the amount earned. It is an interesting snapshot of court life behind the scenes. If anyone can identify the following names do email the appropriate research co-ordinator.
Sewell, George, Footman, 1 Apr. 1689. Vacated 8 Mar. 1702 on death of William III.
Sewell, John, Page of the Bedchamber 16 Mar. 1689. Vacated 8 Mar. 1702 on death of William III.
The pages of the bedchamber originally:
… waited without Doors, at the Back-stairs; but now [c. 1720] they wait within the Bed-Chamber, where they take care that every thing be ready, especially during the time of the King’s Dressing; fetch Water for the Grooms of the Bed-chamber, which the King is to use, and other necessaries.
These places were in the gift of the groom of the stole. The pages received wages of £13s 4d and board wages of £77 6s 8d amounting to £80 a year. In addition, they were entitled to livery of £47, fees of honour which yielded about £17 per annum under George I; and vails and gratuities from aspirants at the backstairs which have been estimated at about £120 per annum. Between 1672 and 1735 extra pages of the bedchamber were occasionally appointed.
Sewell, John, Sewer of the Chamber 24 Dec. 1702. Surrendered by 24 July 1711
The cupbearers, carvers and sewers were ancient offices whose duties were to serve the king on bended knee when he dined in public. As the Sovereign gradually abandoned this practice between 1685 and 1727, these positions became sinecures.
Sewell, Jonathan, Yeoman Arras Taylor to the Great Wardrobe occ. 1777. Vacated. by 1778
According to the 1707 edition of Chamberlayne:
This Office is to make Provisions for Coronations, Marriages and Funerals of the Royal Family; to furnish the Court with Beds, Hangings, Clothes of Estate, Carpets, and other Necessaries; to furnish Houses for Ambassadors, at their first arrival here; Presents for Foreign Princes and Ambassadors; Clothes of Estate, and other Furniture for the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord President of Wales; and all her Majesty's Ambassadors abroad; to provide all Robes for foreign Knights of the Garter, Robes for Knights of the Garter at home, and Robes and all other Furniture for the Officers of the Garter, Coats for Kings, Heralds, and Pursuivants at Arms, Robes for the Lord Treasurer, and under Treasurer and Chancellor of the Exchequer, &c. Livery for the Lord Chamberlain, Grooms of her Majesty's Privy-Chamber, Officers of her Majesty's Robes, and diverse other her Majesty's Servants; Rich Liveries for the two Lords Chief Justices; all the Barons of the Exchequer; diverse Officers in those Courts; all Liveries for her Majesties Servants, as Yeomen of the Guard, and Warders of the Tower, Trumpeters, Kettle-Drummers, Drummers and Fifes; the Messengers, and all belonging to the Stables, as Coachmen, Footmen, Littermen, Postillions and Grooms, &c. All Coaches, Chariots, Harnesses, Saddles, Bits, Bridles, &c. The Queen's Watermen, Game-keepers, &c., All Linnen and Laces for her Majesty's Person, &c., As also such embroider'd Tilts and other Furniture for the Barges; Furniture for all Royal Yachts; Furniture of Courts for arraignment of Peers, and very many other Services....since the great fire of London, this Office is kept in York-House Buildings.
The yeoman arras worker made 2s per day.
Sewell, Josias Groom of the Great Chamber 14 Aug. 1689 Promoted 22 May 1699 on appt. as Page of the Removing Wardrobe. --[Servant] in the Removing Wardrobe w/o fee to succeed at first vacancy 29 Mar. 1699 (Page of the Removing Wardrobe 22 May 1699). Died by 13 Oct. 1710
The grooms of the great chamber attended in the guard chamber and served as internal court messengers. The were appointed by Lord Chamberlain’s Warrant. They were 14 in number between 1660 and 1702 except during the reign of James II when they were reduced to ten. They were permanently reduced to ten in 1702. The salary was £40. Early in the period they were also allowed riding wages, livery worth £1 and fees of honour yielding about £3 per annum under Queen Anne. The removing wardrobe looked after those furnishings which travelled from palace to palace:
It also attends upon Ambassadors, upon
Christnings, Masques, Plays, &c. To furnish such things as are wanting, and to
take Account of their
Its establishment consisted of a yeoman, two grooms and three pages all appointed by Lord Chamberlain's Warrant. The pages' salaries were £100. Officers of the removing wardrobe also received riding wages and fees of honour, worth about £12 apiece under Queen Anne. The removing wardrobe was abolished in 1782.
Sewell (Seywell, Saywell), Thomas, Messenger 4 Oct. 1678. Messenger of the Press 16 Dec. 1684. Vacated 6 Feb. 1685 on death of Charles II. Messenger 31 May 1686, removed by 7 Aug. 1689: suspended 1 July 1689.
According to the Present State of the British Court:
These Messengers are chiefly under the direction of the Secretary of State, being always ready to be sent with all manner of Dispatches Foreign and Domestick ...
Sewell (Seawell), Thomas, Fourth Child of the Household Kitchen 5 Feb. 1756. Third Child of the Household Kitchen 20 Dec. 1756. Second Child of the Household Kitchen 3 June 1758. First Child of the Household Kitchen 6 Feb. 1759. Second Groom of the Household Kitchen 15 Dec. 1760. Office abolished by Est. of 1 July 1761
Children were responsible for roasting meats. They earned around £40 per year in the 1750s.
The Grooms of the Kitchen were responsible for boiled meats and, with salaries and allowances, earned £100 in 1760.
Soley, Edward, Messenger to the Auditor of the Exchequer 25 Aug. 1710. Died by 1 Jan. 1733.
Edward was messenger to Auditor Jett
Soley, George Groom of the Stables 3 June 1801.Vacated by 16 May 1812
In 1812 there were sixteen grooms whose salaries ranged from £95 to £200.
Soley, William, Junior Messenger to the Auditor of the Exchequer, 1 Jan. 1733. Resigned by 26 Apr. 1745
William was messenger to Auditor Lowndes
Soley, William Under Scourer [Second Scourer] at Carlton House paid from 5 Jan. 1812-to c. 6 Jan. 1814. Died by 6 Jan. 1814
Earned around £40 per year
With thanks to Robert Bucholz, D.Phil.; F.R.Hist.S., Professor of
History, Loyola University of Chicago for permission to quote from