Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 11 (Revised), Court Officers, 1660-1837. Originally published by University of London, London, 2006.
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The Later Hanoverian Royal Household 1760–1837
It was the `ruinously bad bargain' of George III's civil list which led to the first fundamental examination and overhaul of the royal household in almost a century and began a trend toward detailed parliamentary examination and effective Treasury control of household expenditure. In a fit of public spiritedness and overconfidence in his own domestic probity, the new King gave up the hereditary and temporary revenues to parliament in return for a provision of £800,000 a year out of the Aggregate Fund. (fn. 1) Any surplus was to be returned to the public. Clearly, George III and his ministers had set themselves the task of restraining civil and household expenditure. And yet the new King's initial moves were ambiguous on the score of economy. He began by attempting to retain all or most of his grandfather's servants and to graft his own as Prince of Wales onto the existing structure. Moreover, the new King preferred greater formality and attendance than his predecessor. (fn. 2) The immediate result was an establishment which was, by the end of 1760, slightly larger than that of George II. To take only the costliest example: the new bedchamber employed 19 gentlemen at £1,000 apiece and 15 grooms at half that. (fn. 3)
Similar extravagance was displayed initially in the appointments made in December 1760 in the lord steward's department. However, in the spring of 1761 a new (and heretofore obscure (fn. 4) ) lord steward, William, Earl Talbot, asked the assistant clerk of the green cloth, William Bray, to launch an inquiry into the recent state of the department. Bray found that many offices had become sinecures; their holders sometimes attended only to look after their fees and the clerks of the green cloth, in particular, had neglected their duties of regulation and control. (fn. 5) Talbot's response was to secure royal approval for a new establishment, dated 1 July 1761, which swept away the subdepartments of the acatry, bakehouse, household kitchen, larder, scalding house and poultry, as well as the offices of the grooms of the ewry; most of the yeomen, grooms and children in the kitchen; the child and salsaryman of the pastry; a yeoman, a groom and all of the pages and children of the scullery; the grooms of the woodyard; and the tailcartakers. (fn. 6) The steward's department shrank from about 220 officers and servants at the end of George II's reign to just 140 in 1761 (Fig. 1A). This more than offset a slight expansion in the departments of the lord chamberlain and master of the horse and kept George III's household under 1,000 places throughout the first decade of his reign.
At the same time, Talbot increased the department's effective clerical staff, (fn. 7) launched a rational reorganization of its books and papers, forbade household officers to supply their own subdepartments, discontinued payment for carriage on most items, changed the contract period for purveyors to the calendar year and transferred the payment of fees on bills to the Crown. (fn. 8) In the master of the horse's department, a stables office was established, a comprehensive series of administrative records (precedent books, warrant books, letter books and daybooks) was begun, and new regulations were laid down for the payment of bills, the training of the pages of honour and, in 1763, the ordering of provisions. (fn. 9)
Lord Talbot and his successive counterparts as master of the horse are not well-known figures, and their reforms were derided in their day, (fn. 10) but they presided over administrations which seem to have been far more active and rigorous than those of the previous reign. Nevertheless, the first two full fiscal years of the new reign saw household expenditures of over £368,000 apiece (Fig. 5), in part a result of the King's coronation and wedding. Though issues to the household dropped steadily to £287,130 by 1765–6 (Fig. 5), there was an inevitable accumulation of debt. As early as 1761–2 total civil expenditure averaged £985,231 a year. This figure fell to £908,563 a year in 1768–9, but despite a helpful surplus of £172,000 left over from George II's frugal last years, the civil list had accumulated £513,511 of debt (£245,307 by the household departments) by 1769. (fn. 11) The result was the first of a series of requests to parliament for one-time payments in supply of the civil list debt, detailed below:
|Total||£3,398,061 (fn. 12)|
In previous reigns, these occasions had failed to provide the opportunity to scrutinize the civil list arrangements, and therefore the royal household, in detail, despite what might seem an obvious need, because of parliamentary reluctance to inquire into what were considered the King's private affairs. (fn. 13) In 1769 the government partially conceded the principle of privacy by promising to provide, at the beginning of the next session, itemized accounts of expenditure. (fn. 14) In 1777 Lord North was forced to go a bit further by providing such accounts before parliament would agree to redeem the civil list debt of £618,340 and provide a permanent augmentation of £100,000. (fn. 15)
Thus the road to Burke's Economical Reform had been paved in the 1770s. The political battle which raged around this issue between 1779 and 1782 is beyond the scope of this introduction. (fn. 16) In any case, as both the din from the opposition and the debts of the civil list continued to mount, it must have become obvious to both the Treasury and household administrators that some sort of reform, similar to that proposed originally in February 1780 by Burke, was inevitable. In fact, there is evidence of a pre-emptive retrenchment as early as February 1782. (fn. 17) In April the new Rockingham ministry began to demand information from department heads and to negotiate with the King over the provisions of Burke's bill. (fn. 18) The six clerks and clerk comptrollers of the green cloth were abolished and, in July, a reduced interim establishment for the lord steward's department received royal approval. (fn. 19)
Burke's bill `for enabling his Majesty to discharge the Debt contracted upon his Civil List Revenues; and for preventing the same from being in Arrear for the future, by regulating the Mode of Payments out of the said Revenues, and by suppressing or regulating certain Offices therein mentioned' became law in July 1782. (fn. 20) It sought to restrain civil expenditures, and, thus, household expenditures, by attacking them on a variety of fronts. First, it abolished, by name, a number of offices and departments, among which were the following household employees: `the principal Officers of the Board of Works; the principal Officers of the great Wardrobe; the principal Officers of the Jewel Office; the Treasurer of the Chamber; the Cofferer of the Household; the Offices of the six Clerks of the Board of Green Cloth;...the Offices of the Master of the Harriers, the Master of the Fox Hounds, and the Master of the Stag Hounds'. Second, it required the Treasury to extend the abolitions to `certain of the Offices dependent on or connected with the same' by 10 October 1782.
The Treasury, now headed by Shelburne, took this provision quite seriously. In late July 1782 it requested accounts, estimates and copies of the household establishments before and after the late modifications. (fn. 21) It also asked department heads to respond to clause 4 of the Act, which called for a more detailed plan of reform for each office. (fn. 22) When these responses proved unsatisfactory, the Treasury appointed Thomas Gilbert to examine the submitted accounts, make investigations of each department, and devise a plan of reform. This led to a series of meetings with household clerical staff, exchanges of establishments, contracts and accounts and specific inquiries and responses. These exchanges, all of which took place by the end of the summer, demonstrate a remarkable show of apparent household co-operation. (fn. 23) By the end of October, they had resulted in a series of reports on each department in which Gilbert described each officer's remuneration and duties - if any. (fn. 24) Department heads were then asked to comment. It was at this stage that there was significant departmental resistance. Lord Steward Carlisle resigned, rather than enact the proposed reforms. But, in the end, departments had little choice but to comply. (fn. 25) They were then asked by the Treasury to put Gilbert's proposals into effect by drawing up new establishments. (fn. 26) With few exceptions, Gilbert's recommendations were followed. In addition to the positions named above, letters of dismissal were sent out in early November to the following officers: (fn. 27)
At the same time, the esquire and yeoman saddler, sergeant, marshal and yeoman farrier, the stud farrier, purveyors and granitors, coachmaker, milliner and gentleman armourer lost their established salaries, reducing them to the status of purveyors paid fo r goods and services as needed. Taking into account positions that were added in 1782–3, the lord chamberlain's department experienced a net loss of over 80 places, the lord steward's department and that of the master of the horse about 30 apiece. Altogether, the 1782 Civil List Act and consequent retrenchments reduced the size of the household by over 140 places, to about 850 (Fig. 1A). The displaced officers were allowed to apply for compensation in fulfilment of clause xxxvi of the Act. (fn. 28)
Burke's Act consolidated the number of household paymasters into six: the lord chamberlain, the paymaster of the household (for the lord steward's department), the masters of the horse and robes, and, on a much smaller scale, the paymaster of the gentlemen pensioners and the master of the hawks. (fn. 29) This partial rationalization of household structure and financial arrangements was furthered by clauses within the act which required estimates from every household paymaster within 15 days of the end of the previous quarter, not to be exceeded by more than £5,000 without reason shown (clause iv); erected a new surveyor or comptroller of the works (under the lord chamberlain), with stricter rules for ordering work from that department (vi, viiixii); established a similar officer for the gardens (vii); awarded the responsibility for the provision of jewels and furniture to the lord chamberlain (xiii–xiv); established new rules for the granting of pensions, royal bounty and secret service money (xviixxx); and divided the civil expenditure into eight classes (xxxi–xxxv), to be paid in strict numerical order as follows:
The idea behind clauses xxxi–xxxv was that the officers of the Treasury would have no choice but to ensure payment of all civil expenses before their own salaries could be satisfied. The act further enjoined that any salary, fee or pension left unpaid for two years was to become extinguished. Thus, the Treasury would have a vested interest in maintaining a sufficient economy to ensure payment of all bills and salaries (and thus their own), or to bring the deficit before parliament in a timely manner if unable to do so. Finally, to ensure that the new system began with a clean slate, Burke's act allowed the King to raise £300,000 in Exchequer bills on the security of the civil list revenue to pay off the current civil list debt (clause xxxviii).
With hindsight, it is easy to see the flaws in the act, and to attribute them to Burke's relative lack of familiarity with the intricacies of the central administration and the household. (fn. 30) But Economical Reform represents the first major rethinking of the civil and household departments and their relationship to each other, the Treasury and the nation since the reign of James II. More to the point, it must be said that those who did know the problems of the civil list and household administration and finance had, with the arguable exception of Lord Talbot, done very little to confront them. In 1782–3, much of the irrationality of the household's structure was cleared away. It is true that, despite the consolidation of paymasters, a large number of chamber officials (almost 170) were still paid directly at the Exchequer. But in other respects, the reforms of 1782–3 did at least begin to rationalize and unify the financial with the administrative structures of the household. That is, the ordering officer was now likely to be held responsible for accounts as well. This could not help but increase Treasury control in turn. Indeed, from this point on the surviving records demonstrate clearly the increased involvement and enhanced authority of the Treasury in the most minute aspects of household expenditure. (fn. 31) Finally, and perhaps more ominously for household officers in light of future developments, the debates of the early 1780s and the legislation of 1782 set the important precedent that, should the civil and household departments ever again need additional support from the nation, they would be subject not only to examination, but possible modification, by parliament. (fn. 32)
And yet, it was obvious by 1786 that Burke's reform was, at best, incomplete. (fn. 33) It provided no spending targets, no estimate of possible expenditure against which to limit or measure actual expenditure. Nor had it gone very far to restrict the civil list to the King's household and personal needs. Indeed, the household itself was spread over five classes, four of which included non-household heads of expenditure as well. It relied upon a strict order of payment among those classes which was only as good as the Treasury's commitment to it, a commitment which was inversely proportional to the availability of alternative sources for funding the King's debts. It put too much faith in the savings to be made out of suppressed places and held out too much hope that the retrenchment of the civil government would reverse a tendency towards expansion. In fact, Burke's characteristic respect for property rights, combined with department heads' understandable concern for the fates of faithful, but now unemployed, servants meant that any potential savings were eaten up by the charity of compensation. Moreover, Burke's act had weakened seriously the King's financial position by appropriating £50,000 a year out of his civil list revenue to pay off the £300,000 in Exchequer bills voted in 1782. Finally, the international situation would soon begin to speed growth in both the size of the civil departments and the expense of provisions for the household.
In December 1782, (fn. 34) July 1784 (fn. 35) and March 1786 the King was again forced to ask parliament for help with his debts, in the last case, to the tune of £210,000. (fn. 36) On this latter occasion, an account of payments by class and an estimate of future expenses was called for by the House. The plan of 6 July 1786 established the household at £344,850 5s 10d, about one-third of a total civil expenditure of £1,035,876 10s 6d. (fn. 37) Unfortunately, such an estimate could not be fool-proof because of the contingent (and so, unpredictable) nature of many household expenses, such as those for new buildings and repair of old, furniture, provisions of food and fodder for horses and necessary articles such as soap and candles. Moreover, a special class of contingent expenses, outside the statutory eight, had to be set up for items not anticipated there. Finally, the estimate was drawn up on the basis of peacetime prices - a condition which would not last long.
The period from 1786 to 1816 witnessed mounting debt, occasioned in part by the flouting of some provisions of Burke's Act (for example, the order of payments), in part by the rapid inflation of prices during the Napoleonic Wars. This led to another round of petitions from impoverished servants and tradesmen, (fn. 38) the frequent renegotiation of contracts to give the latter more favourable terms (fn. 39) and further waves of parliamentary inquiry following the Peace of Amiens (1802–4) and the establishment of the Regency (1811–16). These investigations led to temporary additional payments as noted above (see also Fig. 5) and left unambiguous parliament's right to inquire into the King's household finances. (fn. 40)
Specifically, it was a civil list debt which reached £895,969, adjusted for moneys in the Exchequer, on 5 January 1802 which rendered parliament's involvement necessary. The household debt, prior to adjustment (since the paymasters had not received these Exchequer funds) was £531,073, well over a year's expenditure. (fn. 41) The result was three successive parliamentary inquiries into the finances of the civil government. (fn. 42) These found the chief causes of the debt to lie with Class 3, the diplomatic service; Class 4, household bills; and the extra class for occasional payments. The first was explained by the burgeoning diplomatic activity caused by the war, the last by the fact that there were numerous charges simply unanticipated in Burke's scheme. As for the bills of the household, these had actually stayed within their estimated cost from 1787 to 1792. It was the inflation precipitated by the war that had caused them to rise from the estimate (for Class 4) of £118,000 to £194,533 by 1802. For example, the price of provender for the stables had more than doubled. The situation was exacerbated by the household's continuing responsibility for charges which might be considered civil in nature and which rose dramatically with increased wartime activity, such as the government's stationery costs and the charge of furniture for government buildings. (fn. 43)
Because the reports of 1802–4 found no inherent flaw in the system, and because the peace was anticipated to bring these heads of expenditure down to previous levels, the King was simply granted one-time payments of £990,053 in 1802 and £591,842 in 1804. (fn. 44) This explains the peaks in issues to the household departments in 1802–3 and in 1804–5 exhibited in Fig. 5. These reports did conclude that the civil list revenues were no longer adequate to meet civil expenditure, suggesting the compilation of a new estimate or the provision of a permanent augmentation. The former was submitted on 7 July 1804. It set household expenditure at £359,195 or 36.7% of a total civil expenditure of £979,044 a year. (fn. 45) This became the figure against which future expenditure would be measured. The committee of supply also recommended a permanent addition of £60,000 out of the Consolidated Fund to take into account this more liberal estimate; and that, in future, any debt of more than two quarters should be brought before parliament. This became the basis of 44 George III, c. 80. (fn. 46)
As subsequent civil list inquiries were to reveal, the actions taken in 1802–4 did little more than sustain a deeply flawed system. Treasury control of household expenditure was still incomplete, the methods for procuring items such as furniture, jewels and new buildings at the least expense were still easy to circumvent, the price rise showed no sign of slowing down, many civil and public expenditures were still paid for by household paymasters (especially the lord chamberlain) and, as was to be revealed, the estimate of 1804 was no more realistic than its predecessor. (fn. 47) The provision of 44 George III which required that arrears be brought before parliament was avoided by applying proceeds from the droits of the admiralty and the surplus of the hereditary revenues in Scotland to long-term arrears. (fn. 48) It was the advent of the Regency which finally led to rational solutions for these problems, not least because in forcing the rulers of Britain to confront the changed nature of the monarchy at the end of the reign of George III, the King's illness forced them to confront the changed circumstances of the monarch's household as well.
Following the enactment of the Regency Act (51 George III, c. 1) and beginning in early November 1811, a series of conversations took place between Spencer Perceval, Lord Liverpool, the Prince Regent and his advisers about the future of the King's household under an unrestricted Regency. After much thoughtful debate about the nature and purpose of the royal household, it was decided to extend the arrangements first made in the Regency Act, providing a small household for the King at Windsor, nominated by and under the direction of the Queen and administered by a groom of the stole. (fn. 49) The main household was transferred to the direction of the Prince Regent. This was to be divided, in turn, between an effective household at Carlton House and a court, still official and subordinate to the department heads, but in fact made up of sinecures, at St. James's. After more negotiation, it was further decided that the household at Carlton House should absorb the Prince's existing household. (fn. 50) The result was a slightly larger main household (that is, omitting the establishment at Windsor) of about 880 servants (Fig. 1A). The King's household at Windsor was to be supported out of an additional levy of £70,000 (52 George III, c. 6, clause i). This legislation also transferred the Prince Regent's annual allowance of £50,000 to the civil list (clause ii). Finally, it required that any deficiency over £10,000 above the average of previous deficiencies be brought to the attention of parliament within one month of its occurrence (clause iii). (fn. 51)
In fact, the Regency brought a new series of parliamentary inquiries into public expenditure, sinecure offices, reversions and - as a direct result of the acrimonious deliberations over the above piece of legislation - the civil list. (fn. 52) The government found itself increasingly on the defensive as opposition politicians demanded more detailed scrutiny of how civil list moneys had been spent. Reports were made in 1812, 1813 and 1815. (fn. 53) However, their rigour was limited by the consistent failure of the opposition to secure for the committees which produced them the power to summon persons and papers. As before, the main matter was a comparison of actual expenditure with the existing estimate, this time from 1804. This revealed an excess of £858,000 over seven years to 1811, or £124,000 a year. Once again, most of the excess came in Class 4, especially the lord chamberlain's department, and specifically the works, provision of furniture and jewels. (fn. 54) Of these expenditures, some were found to be contingent upon the establishment of the Regency, some (noted by the 1815 committee) on the recent visit by the allied princes. (fn. 55) Above all, it was noted that `the expenses of this Department are in general increased by charges of a public nature, which do not appertain to the King's Household; but rather to the administration of His Civil Government' - £117,000 out of a total expenditure over seven years of £393,000. These rose because of the continuing increase in prices, the uncertain nature of this kind of occasional expense, and the relative lack of oversight for these categories of expenditure. Similar conditions explained the excess in the department of the lord steward. (fn. 56)
Of the three committee reports, that of 1815 pursued the most thorough examination of the period into the household and civil list and it offered the most aggressive solutions to their problems. (fn. 57) It recommended the transfer of allowances for members of the royal family to the Consolidated Fund, the removal from household responsibility of charges for civil matters (such as the provision of plate for foreign ambassadors, the expenses of the house of commons, house of lords and secretaries of state's offices and the repair of public buildings), an end to gratuities to inferior servants and the submission of timely quarterly estimates and accounts and supplementary estimates for any item over £1,000. It further proposed that nothing should be supplied without written authority from departmental ordering officers, that any excess should be paid out of the next quarter and that, if such an excess persist to the end of the financial year (5 January), it was to be brought before parliament within 30 days. Simultaneously, a separa te inquiry into the works was undertaken by the Committee of Military Inquiry; this eventually resulted in the department's removal from the lord chamberlain's jurisdiction and the enactment of the additional reforms of 54 George III, c. 157. Finally, while urging greater Treasury control, the 1815 committee recognized its limits. They recommended that household accounts be examined by an independent auditor and superintendent of the royal household. (fn. 58) Many of these provisions were enacted in subsequent legislation, especially 56 George III, c. 46, `An Act for the better Regulation of the Civil List'. (fn. 59)
The power and the spur given to the Treasury to restrain costs led to additional reforms - not least because of its desire to avoid similar parliamentary attention in future. (fn. 60) Between November 1812 and July 1816, the Treasury worked with department heads to eliminate the last tables and payment in kind, (fn. 61) to tighten procedures for the ordering of materials, the payment of bills, the submission of accounts and the award of compensation to retiring servants (fn. 62) and to devise plans of retrenchment in the lord chamberlain's and lord steward's departments. The latter earmarked numerous positions for abolition on the deaths of their holders, for a projected saving of almost £17,000. (fn. 63) Finally, pursuant to 56 George III, c. 46, a new estimate was drawn up and a new officer, the auditor of the civil list, was, in August 1816, appointed to examine accounts. (fn. 64)
It is true that compliance with these regulations was some times resisted or nominal. (fn. 65) Moreover, none of them offered much in the way of immediate savings. Most of the anticipated reductions could come only when incumbents died, terminating their offices. (fn. 66) In any case, it has been shown that most of the excess over previous estimates had resulted from cost overruns on provisions and other non-established items. The salaries in Class 5 had never been a particular problem. In fact, issues to household departments rose during the period of the Regency, averaging £493,403 from Michaelmas 1811 to Michaelmas 1819 (Fig. 5). But the Treasury's vigilance in moderating this increase, combined with the additional provision made by recent legislation, made unnecessary further appeals to parliament for relief from debt. The wave of parliamentary inquiries between 1812 and 1816 had led to the following permanent increases of the civil list:
|52 Geo. III, c. 6||70,000|
|Surplus of exchequer fees applied by 23 Geo. III, c. 82||50,000|
|Surplus of Scottish civil list applied by 50 Geo. III, c. 111||10,000|
|£130,000 (fn. 67)|
When added to the previously voted £960,000 this came to the sum of £1,090,000. Simultaneously, the gradual elimination of sinecure places and the enactment of stricter Treasury controls as delineated above did lead, in subsequent reigns, to reductions in household size and expenditure (Figs. 1A and 5).
The death of Queen Charlotte in 1818 necessitated a revision in the following year of existing arrangements at Windsor. The King's allowance was reduced to £50,000 and his staff of attendants cut accordingly. Supervision of this staff was given to the Duke of York, who was provided with an additional £10,000 a year. (fn. 68) Altogether, the civil list now amounted annually to £992,000.
The death of George III in 1820 allowed for the re-uniting of previously separate elements of the household. Despite the urgings of the opposition, it did not lead to a major parliamentary examination of the civil list. Rather, George IV was voted £850,000 a year on the English civil list, more or less on the same basis as in 1816. (fn. 69) What examination of the civil list and household expenses did take place at the change of reign came from the Treasury. Before that could happen, however, the Treasury's right to make decisions for the household received one last challenge. The new King had apparently made known that, henceforth, he would make decisions and give orders regarding the household establishments personally and directly to the department heads, that is, the lord chamberlain, the lord steward and the master of the horse. In particular, departmental finances were to `be entirely subject to His Majesty's Control & government holding the Lord Chamberlain [or lord steward or master of the horse, as appropriate] responsible to His Majesty for the due and proper disposition of the Monies which may be allotted for the service of the Department'. The Treasury quickly pointed out that such an arrangement would violate well-established precedent. Moreover, the responsibility for such decisions had been granted to the Treasury Commissioners by a succession of parliamentary statutes since 22 George III, c. 82. This led Master of the Horse Montrose to acknowledge that `an Act of Parliament, as long as it is in force, must be obeyed'. Whatever the King's reaction, nothing more was heard of the matter and the Treasury's grip on household finance was never subsequently challenged. (fn. 70)
Even before this matter was settled the Treasury asked department heads for estimates of probable future expenditure and their thoughts on necessary increases. (fn. 71) Some of the latter were allowed, but the Treasury lords felt no qualms in trimming proposed establishments of any perceived extravagance. (fn. 72) In the end, the King's decision in the mid st of the agricultural depression of 1822 to donate £30,000 to the public service from his civil list forced the household back to 1816 level budgets. (fn. 73) Because of the patchy survival of records for the lord chamberlain's and lord steward's departments after 1816, it is difficult to know the consequences of this decision for those departments but by mid-reign the clerk of the stables was writing ever more insistent letters to the Treasury about his difficulties in paying the tradesmen supplying his departme nt. Towards its end, the King himself characterized the current state of his civil list as `pitiful'. (fn. 74)
Nothing was done until the accession of William IV in 1830. The failure of the Wellington government to sustain its civil list proposals and thus, itself, in November of that year, (fn. 75) led to a significant reappraisal of the civil list and its relationship to the household departments. Two successive parliamentary inquiries embraced the idea that `the Civil List should be applied only to such Expenses as affect the Dignity and State of the Crown, and the proper maintenance of Their Majesties' Household'. (fn. 76) The resulting act, 1 William IV, c. 25, provided for a civil list consisting of five classes:
|II||Salaries of the Household||130,300|
|III||Expenses of the Household||171,500|
|IV||King's Charity, Special Services, Secret Services, etc.||23,200|
Apart from the King's privy purse of £60,000, household salaries and expenditures were consolidated into and formed the whole of classes two and three, respectively, for a total household establishment of £361,800. (fn. 77) Superannuated servants and most governmental functions were transferred once and for all to the Consolidated Fund. (fn. 78) Thus, an unprecedented degree of simplicity and rationality had been achieved in the household's financial arrangements. This seems to have had a beneficial effect: a glance at Figs. 1A and 5 reveals that, after the coronation year, William IV's household fell steadily in size and, in expenditure, conformed more or less to his civil list provision, remaining flat for nearly the whole of the reign. The relative lack of documentation for the last twenty years of the period leaves in doubt whether this reign saw the administrative and financial problems of its predecessors. But if the evidence at hand is indicative, it would appear that those problems had been largely solved by the accession of Queen Victoria. (fn. 79)