The bedchamber: Groom of the Stole 1660-1837

Pages 13-14

Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 11 (Revised), Court Officers, 1660-1837. Originally published by University of London, London, 2006.

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Groom of the Stole 1660–1837

The groom of the stole was the effective head of the royal bedchamber, with the right to attend the Sovereign at all times and to regulate access to the bedchamber and closet even when absent. The office, which was invariably coupled with that of first gentleman or first lady of the bedchamber from 1660, was in the gift of the Crown, appointments being made by royal warrant. The groom of the stole also received a key, often depicted in contemporary portraits, which was said to open every door in every royal palace (fn. 1) The office was left vacant between 1714 and 1719 and between 1722 and 1723 and was discontinued on the accession of Victoria in 1837.

That part of the remuneration of the groom of the stole which was paid by the cofferer amounted to £1,000 consisting of wages of £33 6s 8d and board wages of £966 13s 4d. (fn. 2) In addition the groom of the stole was paid an annuity at the Exchequer or customs. That paid to Granville (Bath) (1660–85) amounted to £5,000 a year composed of a basic £2,000, a further £2,000 in lieu of plate from the jewel office and £1,000 in lieu of livery at the great wardrobe; (fn. 3) that paid to his successor, Peterborough (1685–8), fell to £1,200. (fn. 4) From 1689 the additional annuity amounted to £2,000 except in the cases of Sunderland (1719–22) and Godolphin (1723–35) who both received £4,000. (fn. 5) The groom of the stole also had the right to lodgings in every royal palace, to the Sovereign's old clothes, and to used bedchamber furnishings (including the royal deathbed) which amounted to £3,000 in 1714. (fn. 6)

1660 5 June Hertford, 1st Marquess of
1660 26 Oct. Granville, Sir J.
1685 21 Apr. Peterborough, 2nd Earl of
1689 1 Mar. Bentinck, H.W.
1700 24 June Romney, 1st Earl of
1702 12 May Marlborough, Countess of
1711 24 Jan. Somerset, Duchess of
1714 1 Aug. Office vacant
1719 7 Feb. Sunderland, 3rd Earl of
1722 19 Apr. Office vacant
1723 26 May Godolphin, 2nd Earl of
1735 8 Jan. Pembroke, 9th Earl of
1751 4 July Albemarle, 2nd Earl of
1755 4 Mar. Rochford, 4th Earl of
1760 15 Nov. Bute, 3rd Earl of
1761 3 Apr. Huntingdon, 10th Earl of
1770 19 Jan. Bristol, 2nd Earl of
1775 30 Mar. Weymouth, 3rd Viscount
1775 10 Nov. Ashburnham, 2nd Earl of
1782 4 May Weymouth, 3rd Viscount
1796 30 Nov. Roxburghe, 3rd Duke of
1804 10 May Winchilsea, 9th Earl of
1812 14 Mar. Winchester, 13th Marquess of


  • 1. PSBC, p. 22; Beattie, pp. 53–8; Bucholz, pp. 317–18 n. 94.
  • 2. Beattie, p. 182.
  • 3. CTB I, 363; ibid. VIII, 1108–9.
  • 4. Ibid. VIII, 222.
  • 5. Ibid. IX, 329; Beattie, p. 185.
  • 6. Bucholz, p. 129; Beattie, p. 211.