Chamber Administration: Keeper of the Privy Purse 1660-1837

Pages 11-12

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

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Keeper of the Privy Purse 1660–1837

The keeper of the privy purse, usually a favourite, was responsible for the Sovereign's most private funds, during this period between £20,000 and £60,000, for which no account had to be submitted to the Treasury. The establishment of the succession to this office presents considerable problems. During the reigns of Charles II, James II, Anne and George II the keeper was sworn into office pursuant to a royal warrant directed to the lord chamberlain; at other times until the Regency appointments appear to have been made informally by word of mouth and have left no trace in the records. During these periods the identity of keepers can be established only from the warrants authorizing payments from the Exchequer to the privy purse and incidental references. The position of Henning (1700–2; c.1716–27), who appears to have carried out the duties as a clerk rather than as a principal, is particularly uncertain. (fn. 1) From 1812 appointments were notified in the London Gazette.

During the reign of Charles II the keeper received board wages of £127 15s. (fn. 2) McMahon (1812–17) received a salary of £3,000 as private secretary and keeper of the privy purse. (fn. 3)

1661 2 Aug. Bennet, Sir H.
1662 16 Oct. Berkeley, Sir C.
1665 28 July May, B.
1685 31 Mar. Graham, J.
1689 Bentinck, H.W.
1700 Henning, C.F.
1702 19 June Marlborough, Countess of
1711 24 Jan. Masham, A.
By 1716 Henning, C.F.
1727 26 Sept. Schutz, A.
1757 9 June Finch, Hon. E.
1760 Bute, 3rd Earl of
1763 Sept. Breton, Sir W.
1773 Brudenell, Hon. J.
1812 17 Mar. McMahon, J.
1817 14 July Bloomfield, Sir B.
1822 21 Sept. Knighton, Sir W.
1830 24 July Wheatley, H.


  • 1. Beattie, pp. 36, 260.
  • 2. LC 3/24, f. 6.
  • 3. HP 1790–1820, iv, 511.