Lord Great Chamberlain

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The Lord Great Chamberlain of England is the sixth of the Great Officers of State, ranking beneath the Lord Privy Seal and above the Lord High Constable. The position is an hereditary one, and was originally held by Robert Malet, a son of one of the leading companions of William the Conqueror. In 1133, however, King Henry I declared Malet's estates and titles forfeit, and awarded the office of Lord Great Chamberlain to Aubrey de Vere, whose son was created Earl of Oxford. Thereafter, the Earls of Oxford held the title almost continuously until 1526, with a few intermissions due to the forfeiture of some Earls for treason. In 1526, however, the fourteenth Earl of Oxford died, leaving his aunts as his female heirs. The earldom was inherited by a more distant heir-male, his second cousin. The Sovereign then declared that the office belonged to the Crown, and was not transmitted along with the earldom. The Sovereign appointed the fifteenth and sixteenth Earls to the office, but the appointments were deemed for life and were uninheritable. Then, Queen Mary I ruled that the Earls of Oxford were indeed entitled to the office of Lord Great Chamberlain on an hereditary basis..

Thus, the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth Earls of Oxford held the position on a hereditary basis until 1626, when the eighteenth Earl died, again leaving a distant relative as a male heir, but a closer one as a female heir. The House of Lords eventually ruled that the office belonged to the male heir, Robert Bertie, 13th Baron Willoughby de Eresby, who later became Earl of Lindsey. The office remained vested in the Earls of Lindsey, who later became the Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven. In 1779, however, the fourth Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven died, leaving two sisters as female heirs, and an uncle as a male heir.

The uncle became fifth Duke, but the House of Lords ruled that the two sisters were jointly Lord Great Chamberlain, and could appoint a deputy to fulfill its functions. The barony of Willoughby de Eresby went into abeyance between the two sisters, but the Sovereign terminated the abeyance and granted the title to the elder sister Priscilla. The younger sister later married the first Marquess of Cholmondeley. The office of Lord Great Chamberlain, however, was divided between Priscilla and her younger sister Georgiana. Priscilla's share was eventually split between two of her granddaughters, and has been split several more times since then. By contrast, Georgiana's share has been inherited by a single male heir each time; that individual has in each case been the Marquess of Cholmondeley, a title created for Georgiana's husband.

At any one time, a single person actually exercises the office of Lord Great Chamberlain. The various individuals who hold fractions of the Lord Great Chamberlainship are technically each Joint Hereditary Lord Great Chamberlain, and the right to exercise the office for a given reign rotates proportionately to the fraction of the office held. For instance, the Marquesses of Cholmondeley hold one-half of the office, and may therefore exercise the office or appoint a deputy every alternate reign.(A Deputy Lord Great Chamberlain is a person exercising the office who is not personally a co-heir to the office; historically these have been sons or husbands of co-heirs as the office has never been exercised by a female, females having been forbidden to sit in the Lords until the present reign).

The office of Lord Great Chamberlain is distinct from the non-hereditary office of Lord Chamberlain of the Household, a position in the monarch's household. This office arose, in fact, as a deputy of the Lord Great Chamberlain, to fulfill the latter's duties in the royal household, but now they are quite distinct. The Lord Great Chamberlain has charge over the Palace of Westminster, and especially of the House of Lords, and technically bears the Sword of State at state openings and closings of Parliament, though this duty is usually delegated to a Lord of Parliament who is also a Field Marshal . The Lord Great Chamberlain also has a major part to play in royal coronations, having the right to dress the monarch on coronation day and to serve the monarch water before and after the coronation banquet, and also being involved in investing the monarch with the insignia of rule.

The House of Lords Act 1999 removed the automatic right of hereditary peers to sit in the House of Lords, but the Act provided that a hereditary peer exercising the office of Lord Great Chamberlain (as well as the Earl Marshal) be exempt from such a rule, so that they may continue to carry out their ceremonial functions.

Lords Great Chamberlain, 1485-present

See Earl of Oxford for earlier Earls of Oxford who have served as Lord Great Chamberlain.

YearsHolder of the Lord Great ChamberlainshipShare
1485-1513John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford1
1513-1526John de Vere, 14th Earl of Oxford1
1526-1540John de Vere, 15th Earl of Oxford1
1540-1562John de Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford1
1562-1604Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford1
1604-1625Henry de Vere, 18th Earl of Oxford1
1626-1642Robert Bertie, 1st Earl of Lindsey1
1642-1666Montagu Bertie, 2nd Earl of Lindsey1
1666-1701Robert Bertie, 3rd Earl of Lindsey1
1701-1723Robert Bertie, 1st Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven1
1723-1742Peregrine Bertie, 2nd Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven1
1742-1778Peregrine Bertie, 3rd Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven1
1778-1779Robert Bertie, 4th Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven1
1780-1828Priscilla Bertie, 21st Baroness Willoughby de Eresby1/2
Georgiana Cholmondeley, Marchioness of Cholmondeley1/2
1828-1838Peter Drummond-Willoughby, 22nd Baron Willoughby de Eresby1/2
Georgiana Cholmondeley, Marchioness of Cholmondeley1/2
1838-1865Peter Drummond-Willoughby, 22nd Baron Willoughby de Eresby1/2
George Cholmondeley, 2nd Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1865-1870Albyric Drummond-Willoughby, 23rd Baron Willoughby de Eresby1/2
George Cholmondeley, 2nd Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1870Albyric Drummond-Willoughby, 23rd Baron Willoughby de Eresby1/2
William Cholmondeley, 3rd Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1870-1879Clementine Elizabeth, 24th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby1/4
Charlotte Augusta Wynn-Carrington, Baroness Carrington1/4
William Cholmondeley, 3rd Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1879-1884Clementine Elizabeth, 24th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby1/4
Charles Robert Wynn-Carrington, 1st Marquess of Lincolnshire1/4
William Cholmondeley, 3rd Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1884-1888Clementine Elizabeth, 24th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby1/4
Charles Robert Wynn-Carrington, 1st Marquess of Lincolnshire1/4
George Henry Hugh Cholmondeley, 4th Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1884-1910Gilbert Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 1st Earl of Ancaster1/4
Charles Robert Wynn-Carrington, 1st Marquess of Lincolnshire1/4
George Henry Hugh Cholmondeley, 4th Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1910-1923Gilbert Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 2nd Earl of Ancaster1/4
Charles Robert Wynn-Carrington, 1st Marquess of Lincolnshire1/4
George Henry Hugh Cholmondeley, 4th Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1923-1928Gilbert Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 2nd Earl of Ancaster1/4
Charles Robert Wynn-Carrington, 1st Marquess of Lincolnshire1/4
George Horatio Charles Cholmondeley, 5th Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1928-1951Gilbert Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 2nd Earl of Ancaster1/4
Marjorie Cecilia Wilson, Baroness Nunburnholme1/20
Lady Alexandra Llewellen Palmer1/20
Ruperta Legge, Countess of Dartmouth1/20
Derek Keppel, Viscount Bury1/20
Lady Victoria Weld-Forester1/20
George Horatio Charles Cholmondeley, 5th Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1951-1953Gilbert James Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 3rd Earl of Ancaster1/4
Marjorie Cecilia Wilson, Baroness Nunburnholme1/20
Lady Alexandra Llewellen Palmer1/20
Ruperta Legge, Countess of Dartmouth1/20
Derek Keppel, Viscount Bury1/20
Lady Victoria Weld-Forester1/20
George Horatio Charles Cholmondeley, 5th Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1953-1955Gilbert James Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 3rd Earl of Ancaster1/4
Marjorie Cecilia Wilson, Baroness Nunburnholme1/20
Lady Alexandra Llewellen Palmer1/20
Ruperta Legge, Countess of Dartmouth1/20
Derek Keppel, Viscount Bury1/20
Lady Victoria Weld-Forester1/20
George Horatio Charles Cholmondeley, 5th Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1955-1963Gilbert James Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 3rd Earl of Ancaster1/4
Marjorie Cecilia Wilson, Baroness Nunburnholme1/20
Anthony Llewellen Palmer1/20
Ruperta Legge, Countess of Dartmouth1/20
Derek Keppel, Viscount Bury1/20
Lady Victoria Weld-Forester1/20
George Horatio Charles Cholmondeley, 5th Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1963-1966Gilbert James Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 3rd Earl of Ancaster1/4
Marjorie Cecilia Wilson, Baroness Nunburnholme1/20
Anthony Llewellen Palmer1/20
Lady Mary Findlay1/100
Lady Elizabeth Basset1/100
Lady Diana Matthews1/100
Lady Barbara Kwiatkowski1/100
Josceline Chichester, Marchioness of Donegall1/100
Derek Keppel, Viscount Bury1/20
Lady Victoria Weld-Forester1/20
George Horatio Charles Cholmondeley, 5th Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1966-1968Gilbert James Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 3rd Earl of Ancaster1/4
Marjorie Cecilia Wilson, Baroness Nunburnholme1/20
Anthony Llewellen Palmer1/20
Lady Mary Findlay1/100
Lady Elizabeth Basset1/100
Lady Diana Matthews1/100
Lady Barbara Kwiatkowski1/100
Josceline Chichester, Marchioness of Donegall1/100
Derek Keppel, Viscount Bury1/20
Sir Edward Legge-Bourke1/20
George Horatio Charles Cholmondeley, 5th Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1968Gilbert James Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 3rd Earl of Ancaster1/4
Charles John Wilson, 3rd Baron Nunburnholme1/20
Anthony Llewellen Palmer1/20
Lady Mary Findlay1/100
Lady Elizabeth Basset1/100
Lady Diana Matthews1/100
Lady Barbara Kwiatkowski1/100
Josceline Chichester, Marchioness of Donegall1/100
Derek Keppel, Viscount Bury1/20
Sir Edward Legge-Bourke1/20
George Horatio Charles Cholmondeley, 5th Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1968Gilbert James Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 3rd Earl of Ancaster1/4
Charles John Wilson, 3rd Baron Nunburnholme1/20
Anthony Llewellen Palmer1/20
Lady Mary Findlay1/100
Lady Elizabeth Basset1/100
Lady Diana Matthews1/100
Lady Barbara Kwiatkowski1/100
Josceline Chichester, Marchioness of Donegall1/100
Derek Keppel, Viscount Bury1/20
Sir Edward Legge-Bourke1/20
George Hugh Cholmondeley, 6th Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1968-1970Gilbert James Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 3rd Earl of Ancaster1/4
Charles John Wilson, 3rd Baron Nunburnholme1/20
Anthony Llewellen Palmer1/20
Lady Mary Findlay1/100
Lady Elizabeth Basset1/100
Lady Diana Matthews1/100
Lady Barbara Kwiatkowski1/100
Josceline Chichester, Marchioness of Donegall1/100
Rufus Arnold Alexis Keppel, 10th Earl of Albemarle1/20
Sir Edward Legge-Bourke1/20
George Hugh Cholmondeley, 6th Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1970-1973Gilbert James Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 3rd Earl of Ancaster1/4
Charles John Wilson, 3rd Baron Nunburnholme1/20
Anthony Llewellen Palmer1/20
Lady Mary Findlay1/100
Lady Elizabeth Basset1/100
James Hamilton-Russell1/100
Lady Barbara Kwiatkowski1/100
Josceline Chichester, Marchioness of Donegall1/100
Rufus Arnold Alexis Keppel, 10th Earl of Albemarle1/20
Sir Edward Legge-Bourke1/20
George Hugh Cholmondeley, 6th Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1973-1974Gilbert James Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 3rd Earl of Ancaster1/4
Charles John Wilson, 3rd Baron Nunburnholme1/20
Anthony Llewellen Palmer1/20
Lady Mary Findlay1/100
Lady Elizabeth Basset1/100
James Hamilton-Russell1/100
Lady Barbara Kwiatkowski1/100
Josceline Chichester, Marchioness of Donegall1/100
Rufus Arnold Alexis Keppel, 10th Earl of Albemarle1/20
William Legge-Bourke1/20
George Hugh Cholmondeley, 6th Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1974-1983Gilbert James Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 3rd Earl of Ancaster1/4
Ben Charles Wilson, 4th Baron Nunburnholme1/20
Anthony Llewellen Palmer1/20
Lady Mary Findlay1/100
Lady Elizabeth Basset1/100
James Hamilton-Russell1/100
Lady Barbara Kwiatkowski1/100
Josceline Chichester, Marchioness of Donegall1/100
Rufus Arnold Alexis Keppel, 10th Earl of Albemarle1/20
William Legge-Bourke1/20
George Hugh Cholmondeley, 6th Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1983-1990Nancy Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 28th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby1/4
Ben Charles Wilson, 4th Baron Nunburnholme1/20
Anthony Llewellen Palmer1/20
Lady Mary Findlay1/100
Lady Elizabeth Basset1/100
James Hamilton-Russell1/100
Lady Barbara Kwiatkowski1/100
Josceline Chichester, Marchioness of Donegall1/100
Rufus Arnold Alexis Keppel, 10th Earl of Albemarle1/20
William Legge-Bourke1/20
George Hugh Cholmondeley, 6th Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1990Nancy Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 28th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby1/4
Ben Charles Wilson, 4th Baron Nunburnholme1/20
Julian Palmer1/20
Lady Mary Findlay1/100
Lady Elizabeth Basset1/100
James Hamilton-Russell1/100
Lady Barbara Kwiatkowski1/100
Josceline Chichester, Marchioness of Donegall1/100
Rufus Arnold Alexis Keppel, 10th Earl of Albemarle1/20
William Legge-Bourke1/20
George Hugh Cholmondeley, 6th Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1990-1995Nancy Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 28th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby1/4
Ben Charles Wilson, 4th Baron Nunburnholme1/20
Julian Palmer1/20
Lady Mary Findlay1/100
Lady Elizabeth Basset1/100
James Hamilton-Russell1/100
Lady Barbara Kwiatkowski1/100
Josceline Chichester, Marchioness of Donegall1/100
Rufus Arnold Alexis Keppel, 10th Earl of Albemarle1/20
William Legge-Bourke1/20
David George Philip Cholmondeley, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1995-1998Nancy Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 28th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby1/4
Ben Charles Wilson, 4th Baron Nunburnholme1/20
Julian Palmer1/20
Lady Mary Findlay1/100
Lady Elizabeth Basset1/100
James Hamilton-Russell1/100
Lady Barbara Kwiatkowski1/100
Arthur Patrick Chichester, Earl of Belfast/8th Marquess of Donegall1/100
Rufus Arnold Alexis Keppel, 10th Earl of Albemarle1/20
William Legge-Bourke1/20
David George Philip Cholmondeley, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
1998-2000Nancy Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 28th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby1/4
Charles Wilson, 5th Baron Nunburnholme1/20
Julian Palmer1/20
Lady Mary Findlay1/100
Lady Elizabeth Basset1/100
James Hamilton-Russell1/100
Lady Barbara Kwiatkowski1/100
Arthur Patrick Chichester, Earl of Belfast/8th Marquess of Donegall1/100
Rufus Arnold Alexis Keppel, 10th Earl of Albemarle1/20
William Legge-Bourke1/20
David George Philip Cholmondeley, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
2000Nancy Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 28th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby1/4
Charles Wilson, 5th Baron Nunburnholme1/20
Julian Palmer1/20
Lady Mary Findlay1/100
Peter Francis Basset1/100
James Hamilton-Russell1/100
Lady Barbara Kwiatkowski1/100
Arthur Patrick Chichester, Earl of Belfast/8th Marquess of Donegall1/100
Rufus Arnold Alexis Keppel, 10th Earl of Albemarle1/20
William Legge-Bourke1/20
David George Philip Cholmondeley, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2
2000-Nancy Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 28th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby1/4
(?)Stephen Wilson, 6th Baron of Nunburnholme(?)1/20
Julian Palmer1/20
Lady Mary Findlay1/100
Peter Francis Basset1/100
James Hamilton-Russell1/100
Lady Barbara Kwiatkowski1/100
Arthur Patrick Chichester, Earl of Belfast/8th Marquess of Donegall1/100
Rufus Arnold Alexis Keppel, 10th Earl of Albemarle1/20
William Legge-Bourke1/20
David George Philip Cholmondeley, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley1/2

The list is presently incomplete.

Persons exercising the office of Lord Great Chamberlain, 1780-present

MonarchActed as LGCYears
George IIIPeter Burrell, 1st Baron Gwydyr as Deputy Lord Great Chamberlain (= D.L.Gr.Ch.)1780-1820
George IVPeter Burrell, 1st Baron Gwydyr as Deputy Lord Great Chamberlain1820-1821
Peter Drummond-Willoughby, 21st Baron Willoughby de Eresby1821-1830
William IVGeorge Horatio Cholmondeley, 2nd Marquess of Cholmondeley1830-1837
VictoriaPeter Drummond-Willoughby, 22nd Baron Willoughby de Eresby1837-1865
Albyric Drummond-Willoughby, 23rd Baron Willoughby de Eresby1865-1870
Gilbert Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 1st Earl of Ancaster as D.L.Gr.Ch.1871-1888
Gilbert Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 1st Earl of Ancaster1888-1901
Edward VIIGeorge Henry Hugh Cholmondeley, 4th Marquess of Cholmondeley1901-1910
George VRobert Wynn-Carrington, 1st Marquess of Lincolnshire1910-1928
William Legge, 7th Earl of Dartmouth as Deputy Lord Great Chamberlain1928-1936
Edward VIIIGeorge Horatio Charles Cholmondeley, 5th Marquess of Cholmondeley1936
George VIGilbert Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 2nd Earl of Ancaster1936-1951
Gilbert James Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 3rd Earl of Ancaster1951-1952
Elizabeth IIGeorge Horatio Charles Cholmondeley, 5th Marquess of Cholmondeley1952-1966
George Hugh Cholmondeley, 6th Marquess of Cholmondeley as D.L.Gr.Ch.1966-1968
George Hugh Cholmondeley, 6th Marquess of Cholmondeley1966-1990
David George Philip Cholmondeley, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley1990-
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