Lord High Steward

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Lord High Steward of England
Gordon Messenger museum (cropped).jpg
Sir Gordon Messenger acted as Lord High Steward of England at the Coronation of Charles III and Camilla.
Type Great Officer of State
AppointerThe Monarch
Term length At His Majesty's Pleasure
First holder The 2nd Earl of Leicester
Final holderGeneral Sir Gordon Messenger

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


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. [1]

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.[ citation needed ]

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).[ citation needed ]

Lord High Stewards of England, 1154–1421

Lord High Stewards of England, 1422–present

Incomplete before 1660.


Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester 1429Coronation of King Henry VI (Humphrey's nephew) [2]
Thomas de Courtenay, 5th/13th Earl of Devon 1445Coronation of Margaret of Anjou [ citation needed ]
John de la Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk 1461Coronation of King Edward IV (brother of Pole's wife, Elizabeth of York)[ citation needed ]
George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence 1465Coronation of Elizabeth Woodville (wife of George's brother, Edward IV) [3]
John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk 1483Coronation of King Richard III (Howard's close friend) and his wife Anne Neville [ citation needed ]
John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford 1485Coronation of King Henry VII (Vere was commander of Henry's army at the Battle of Bosworth Field) [4]
Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford 1487Coronation 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 1509Coronation of King Henry VIII and his wife Queen Catherine [5]
The Duke of Suffolk 1533Coronation of Queen Anne [6]
The Baron Russell 1547Coronation of King Edward VI [7]
The Earl of Derby 1553Coronation of Queen Mary I [8]
The Earl of Arundel 1559Coronation of Queen Elizabeth I [9]
The Earl of Nottingham 1603Coronation of King James I and his wife Queen Anne [10]
The Duke of Buckingham 1626Coronation of King Charles I [11]
The Duke of Ormond 1661Coronation of King Charles II [12]
1685Coronation of King James II and his wife Queen Mary
The Earl of Devonshire 1689Coronation of King William III and Queen Mary II
The Duke of Devonshire 1702Coronation of Queen Anne
The Duke of Grafton 1714Coronation of King George I
The Duke of Dorset 1727Coronation of King George II and his wife Queen Caroline
The Earl Talbot 1761Coronation of King George III and his wife Queen Charlotte
The Marquess of Anglesey 1821Coronation of King George IV
The Duke of Hamilton and Brandon 1831Coronation of King William IV and his wife Queen Adelaide
1838Coronation of Queen Victoria
The Duke of Marlborough 1902Coronation of King Edward VII and his wife Queen Alexandra [13]
The Duke of Northumberland 1911Coronation of King George V and his wife Queen Mary [14]
The Marquess of Salisbury 1937Coronation of King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth [15]
The Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope 1953Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II [16]
Sir Gordon Messenger 2023Coronation of King Charles III and his wife Queen Camilla [17]

Trials of peers

Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham 1478Trial of George, Duke of Clarence (brother of Edward IV, whose ward Stafford was)
John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford 1499Trial of Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick (the last male-line Yorkist)
Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk 1503Trial of Edward Sutton, 2nd Baron Dudley [ citation needed ]
Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk 1521Trial of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham[ citation needed ]
Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk 1534Trial of William Dacre, 3rd Baron Dacre [ citation needed ]
1536Trial of Anne Boleyn (Howard's niece)[ citation needed ]
Henry Courtenay, 1st Marquess of Exeter 1537Trial of Thomas Darcy, 1st Baron Darcy de Darcy (Courtenay was a first-cousin to Henry VIII)
Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden 1538Trial of Henry Pole, 1st Baron Montagu and Henry Courtenay, 1st Marquess of Exeter (cousins; scions of the House of York)
1541Trial of Thomas Fiennes, 9th Baron Dacre
William Paulet, 1st Marquess of Winchester 1551Trial of Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset (fallen Lord Protector, regent and uncle of Edward VI; Paulet was one of the 16 executors) [18]
Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk 1553Trial of John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland (fallen regent)[ citation needed ]
Henry FitzAlan, 19th Earl of Arundel 1557Trial of Lord Stourton (FitzAlan was a godson of Henry VIII; Stourton a nephew of Dudley)
William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton 1559Trial 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 1571Trial of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk
William Paulet, 3rd Marquess of Winchester 1587Funeral of Mary, Queen of Scots (Paulet was a judge at her trial)[ citation needed ]
Henry Stanley, 4th Earl of Derby 1589Trial of Philip Howard, 20th Earl of Arundel
Thomas Sackville, 1st Baron Buckhurst 1601Trial of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (a favourite of Elizabeth I)
Thomas Coventry, 1st Baron Coventry 1631Trial of Mervyn Tuchet, 2nd Earl of Castlehaven (Coventry was Lord Keeper)[ citation needed ]
Thomas Howard, 21st Earl of Arundel 1641Trial 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)
1666Trial of Thomas Park, 15th Baron Morley (Hyde was a member of Charles' exile court)
Heneage Finch, 1st Baron Finch
(Lord Chancellor)
1676Trial of Charles Cornwallis, 3rd Baron Cornwallis
Trial of Philip Herbert, 7th Earl of Pembroke
1679Trial of Thomas Osborne, 1st Earl of Danby (later 1st Duke of Leeds)
1679Trial 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
1680Trial of William Howard, 1st Viscount Stafford,
George Jeffreys, 1st Baron Jeffreys
(Lord Chancellor)
1686Trial of Henry Booth, 2nd Baron Delamere
Thomas Osborne, 1st Marquess of Carmarthen (later 1st Duke of Leeds)
(Lord President of the Council)
1693Trial of Charles Mohun, 4th Baron Mohun
John Somers, 1st Baron Somers
(Lord Chancellor)
1699Trial of Edward Rich, 6th Earl of Warwick; and of Charles Mohun, 4th Baron Mohun
William Cowper, 1st Baron Cowper
(Lord Chancellor)
1716Trial 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
1716Trial of George Seton, 5th Earl of Winton
1717Trial of Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer
Peter King, 1st Baron King
(Lord Chancellor)
1725Trial of Thomas Parker, 1st Earl of Macclesfield
Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke
(Lord Chancellor)
1746Trial of William Boyd, 4th Earl of Kilmarnock; George Mackenzie, 3rd Earl of Cromartie; and Arthur Elphinstone, 6th Lord Balmerino
1747Trial of Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat
Robert Henley, 1st Baron Henley
(Lord Keeper)
1760Trial of Laurence Shirley, 4th Earl Ferrers
Robert Henley, 1st Earl of Northington
(Lord Chancellor)
1765Trial of William Byron, 5th Baron Byron
Henry Bathurst, 2nd Earl Bathurst
(Lord Chancellor)
1776Trial 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)
1806Trial of Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville
Thomas Denman, 1st Baron Denman
(Lord Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench)
1841Trial of James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan
Hardinge Giffard, 1st Earl of Halsbury
(Lord Chancellor)
1901Trial of Frank Russell, 2nd Earl Russell
John Lambton, 3rd Earl of Durham 1911–1912Lord High Steward to George V during his visit to India from 1911 to 1912 [19]
Douglas Hogg, 1st Viscount Hailsham
(Lord Chancellor)
1935Trial of Edward Russell, 26th Baron de Clifford (last trial of a peer in the House of Lords)

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Events from the 1390s in England.


  1. William Blackstone (1769). Commentaries on the Laws of England vol. 4, chapter 19
  2. Nicolas, Nicholas Harris (1835), 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)
  3. Hipshon, David (26 August 2011), Richard III and the Death of Chivalry, by David Hipshon, 2011, The History Press, ISBN   9780752469157
  4. Baumgaertner, Wm. E. (2010), Squires, Knights, Barons, Kings: War and Politics in Fifteenth Century England; by Wm. E. Baumgaertner, 2010, Trafford, ISBN   9781426907692
  5. Stafford was ward of Henry VIII's grandmother, Margaret Beaufort
  6. Brandon's wife, Mary Tudor, was Henry VIII's sister
  7. Russell was one of the 16 executors of the will of Henry VIII
  8. Stanley was a ward of King Henry VIII
  9. "The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth". History Today. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  10. Howard was Lord High Admiral, and a cousin to the late Thomas, 4th Duke of Norfolk
  11. Villiers was Lord High Admiral, and a favourite of King Charles I father, King James I
  12. Butler was a leading figure in the exile court of King Charles II
  13. "No. 27489". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 October 1902. p. 6865.
  14. "No. 28535". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 September 1911. p. 7084.
  15. "No. 34453". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 November 1937. p. 7051.
  16. "No. 40020". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 November 1953. p. 6238.
  17. "Roles to be performed at the Coronation Service at Westminster Abbey". The Royal Family. Retrieved 27 April 2023.
  18. Patrick Cracroft-Brennan, Winchester, Marquess of (E, 1551). Accessed 19 July 2014.
  19. "No. 28536". The London Gazette. 29 September 1911. p. 7121.