Groom of the Chamber

Groom of the Chamber was a position in the Household of the monarch in early modern England. Other Ancien Régime royal establishments in Europe had comparable officers, often with similar titles. In France, the Duchy of Burgundy, and in England while French was still the language of the court, the title was varlet or valet de chambre. In German, Danish and Russian the term was "Kammerjunker" and in Swedish the similar "Kammarjunkare".

In England after the Restoration, appointments in the King's Household included Groom of the Great Chamber, Groom of the Privy Chamber and Groom of the Bedchamber.[1] The first two positions were appointed by Lord Chamberlain's warrant; the third, of greater importance, was a Crown appointment.

Medieval and early-modern England

Traditionally, the English Court was organized into three branches or departments:

  1. the Household, primarily concerned with fiscal more than domestic matters, the "royal purse;"
  2. the Chamber, concerned with the Presence Chamber, the Privy chamber, and other more public rooms of the royal palaces, as the Bedchamber was concerned with the innermost.
  3. the Bedchamber, focused on the most direct and intimate aspects of the lives of the royal family, with its own offices, like the Groom of the Body and the Squire of the Body;

The Chamber organization was controlled by the Lord Chamberlain; if he was the general of a small army of servitors, the Grooms of the Chamber were his junior officers, with ushers and footmen the footsoldiers. The Grooms wore the royal livery (in earlier periods), served as general attendants, and fulfilled a wide range of specific functions. (One Groom of the Chamber had the job of handing the "King's Stuff" to a Squire of the Body, who would then dress the King.) Grooms ranked below Gentlemen of the Chamber, usually important noblemen, but above Yeomen of the Chamber. They were mostly well-born, on a first rung of a courtier's career. The office of Groom of the Chamber could also be bestowed in a more honorific manner, upon people who served the royal household in some less direct way; the early Tudor poet Stephen Hawes became a Groom of the Chamber in 1502, under Henry VII.[2]

Under James I, the Bedchamber was established as a semi-autonomous department (overseen by the Groom of the Stole) with its own hierarchy of Gentlemen, Grooms and Yeomen, which usurped those of the Privy Chamber in terms of their influence with and closeness to the King.[3] (The old Bedchamber office of Esquire to the Body was finally abolished in 1702).[3]

Grooms Extraordinary

In the reigns of the early monarchs of the House of Stuart, James I and Charles I, the actors of the King's Men, the playing company under royal patronage, were officially "Grooms extraordinary of the Chamber". They did not usually fulfill the normal functions of the office; rather, they served the King by performing plays for him. Although on busy occasions, the King's Men appear to have acted as more ordinary servants: in August 1604 they were "waiting and attending" upon the Spanish ambassador at Somerset House, "on his Majesty's service" but no plays were performed.)[4] They were also turned out to bulk up the Household for grand ceremonial occasions. A similar arrangement held for some of Queen Anne's Men, including their playwright Thomas Heywood; they became Grooms of the Queen's Chamber, under the Queen's Chamberlain.[5] On some occasions, Shakespeare, Heywood, and their compatriots wore the royal livery, marched in processions, and played other roles in the ceremonial life of the monarchy. (Grooms could not be arrested for debt without the permission of the Lord Chamberlain a big advantage for sometimes-struggling actors.) In at least two cases, those of George Bryan (Lord Chamberlain's Men) and John Singer (Queen Elizabeth's Men; Admiral's Men), professional actors became "normal" Grooms of the Chamber, with the normal duties, after retiring from the stage.

List of Grooms of the Chamber

Elizabeth I (1558–1603)[7]
James I (1603–1625)

Charles I (1625–1649)

List of Grooms of the Bedchamber

James I (1603–1625)

Charles I (1625–1649)

Commonwealth (1649–1660)

No Grooms of the Bedchamber appointed

Post-Restoration England and Great Britain

Fourteen Grooms of the Great Chamber were appointed under Charles II (later reduced to ten); they served as internal court messengers and were in attendance in the guard room.[28]

The Grooms of the Privy Chamber were six in number (reduced to two under James I); initially responsible for manning the doors to the Privy Chamber, by 1720 the office largely lost its function, but attendance was still required for Coronations and other 'extraordinary Occasions'.[29]

There were usually a dozen or so Grooms of the Bedchamber appointed (though under different monarchs the number varied from as many as fifteen or as few as eight), two of whom were on duty at any one time. They served for a week at a time in rotation and were responsible for attending the King in the Chamber when he dressed, and at Dinner when he dined privately (taking food and wine from the servants to give it to the Lords, who would serve The King).[30] They would also deputise for the Lords of the Bedchamber if required to do so. Grooms of the Bedchamber were close to the King and were occasionally sent overseas as special envoys to negotiate royal marriages and such. During the exile of James II a court was maintained by that king in France and certain of his grooms joined him there. Similarly, during the last years of the reign of King George III, when he withdrew from public life in consequence of his poor mental health, several of his grooms followed him to Windsor Castle, whilst others remained in London to serve the Prince Regent, later to become King George IV. When the Monarch was a Queen, the positions of Groom of the Bedchamber were not filled (though Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria, did appoint his own Grooms of the Bedchamber).[31]

List of Grooms of the Privy Chamber

Charles II (1660–1685)

6 June 1660Maurice WynnJames ElliottRobert Thompson
7 June 1660Adam Hill
10 June 1660Adrian May
12 June 1660James Progers
17 May 1661Roger Burgess
27 January 1669Thomas Ross
30 April 1670Arthur Ingram
15 May 1671Thomas Cooke
15 May 1672Paul French
17 May 1673John Lowther
25 June 1673Christopher Jeffreys
8 July 1676John Bellingham
18 December 1676Humphrey Graves
11 October 1677Richard Binns
20 May 1678Yelverton Peyton
23 October 1680Edward Lloyd
20 August 1683John Radcliffe

James II 1685–1688

February 1685Robert ThompsonChristopher Jeffreys

William III 1689–1702

February 1689Robert ThompsonChristopher Jeffreys
28 March 1689Thomas DuppaHumphrey Graves
12 January 1694David Carbonell
29 July 1695William Wallis
30 November 1695William Whitmore
22 December 1699Robert Barkham
19 May 1700Robert Wallis
25 October 1701Cornelius Tilburgh


9 July 1702John BonningRobert Hemmington
26 March 1711Cornelius Tilburgh
28 May 1715Joseph Ashley
3 February 1719James Trymmer
12 August 1719Edward Parsons
25 November 1720John Parsons
10 December 1728Langham Edwards
11 May 1729Wentworth Odiarne
2 June 1740Charles Collins
7 June 1745Edward Capell
24 February 1750Charles Husband Collins
3 June 1762Strelley Pegge
8 October 1762Samuel Pegge
5 July 1774John Larpent
6 July 1774Thomas Collins
24 October 1778William Fordyce
24 February 1781James Trail
18 November 1781James Hawkins
7 March 1785Hale Young Wortham
March 1788Richard Byron
5 February 1794Edmund Armstrong
19 October 1797Robert Chester
29 July 1798James Meller
1799James Whitshed
23 May 1800John Hunter
18 May 1802William Chapman Fowle
19 August 1808Frederick Chapman
3 June 1812William Fenton Scott
6 July 1814Robert Powell
12 August 1818William Beresford
12 December 1823Charles Dashwood
21 April 1832Courtenay Edmund William Boyle
23 April 1833Thomas Shiffner
6 May 1836Arthur Johnstone Blackwood
1 November 1839Stewart Henry Paget[32]
24 February 1840Thomas Noel Harris[33]
1 March 1852Hon. Mortimer Sackville-West[34]
13 July 1852Samuel Randall[35]
16 February 1859John Home Purves[36]
31 March 1860John Francis Campbell, of Islay[37]
2 October 1862Edward Stopford Claremont[38]
3 July 1867Hon. Roden Berkeley Wriothesley Noel[39]
14 January 1871Hon. Charles George Cornwallis Eliot[40]
8 January 1874James Bontein[41]
16 February 1874Nathaniel George Philips[42]
24 October 1884Arnold Royle[43]
25 July 1890Malcolm Drummond, of Megginch[44]
1 October 1893Hon. Otway Frederick Seymour Cuffe[45]
14 November 1899Sir Francis Knollys

List of Grooms of the Bedchamber

Charles II (1660–1685)

Date of appointment
1 Feb 1661John AshburnhamDaniel O'NeillHenry Seymour
2 Feb 1661Thomas ElliotThomas KilligrewRichard LaneRobert PhillipsSilius TitusDavid Walter
3 Feb 1661Edward Proger
6 Feb 1661William Legge
1 Jan 1662Hon. Henry Coventry
28 Oct 1664James Hamilton
1 Oct 1670Sidney Godolphin
16 Jun 1671Thomas Felton
21 Jun 1672Bernard Granville
7 Jun 1673Henry Savile
8 Jul 1675Henry Guy
Aug 1677George Porter
18 Jul 1678George Rodney Bridges
Apr 1679Thomas Wyndham
16 May 1679Thomas Lee
26 Nov 1679Thomas Neale
Mar 1683Bevil Skelton
15 May 1683Francis Gwyn
19 Dec 1683Henry Killigrew

James II (1685–1688)

Date of appointment
2 May 1685James FortreyOliver NicholasHenry SlingsbyHon. Heneage FinchRichard LevesonHon. James GriffinFrancis RussellDavid Lloyd
1686James Porter
9 Mar 1687Richard Bagot

William III (1689–1702)

Date of appointment
6 Jun 1689Percy KirkeHatton ComptonCharles TrelawnyEmanuel Scrope HoweJohn SayersAdrian van BorselenHon. James Stanley
Mar 1690Arnold Joost van Keppel
29 Apr 1691Hon. Thomas Windsor
Jan 1692Hon. George Cholmondeley
6 May 1695Thomas Wentworth

Anne (1702–1714) No Grooms of the Bedchamber appointed

George I (1714–1727)

Date of appointment
20 Sep 1714Hon. William KerrJames Tyrrell
16 Oct 1714James DormerHon. Charles HowardWilliam BretonGeorge Feilding
21 Oct 1714Henry CornewallPhilip Honywood
15 Jun 1715Sir Gustavus Hume
13 May 1719Hon. William Finch
11 Jun 1720Sir Wilfrid Lawson
10 Aug 1721Hon. Charles Cornwallis
24 Jun 1722
25 May 1723Hon. Robert Sawyer Herbert

George II (1727–1760)

Date of appointment
21 Aug 1727Sir Robert Rich
14 Sep 1727Thomas PagetHon. Charles LumleyJohn SelwynCharles ChurchillHon. Charles CathcartJohn CampbellHon. Sir James CampbellSir Charles Hotham
7 May 1731John Clavering
7 May 1733Hon. James Brudenell
22 Apr 1740Hon. William Herbert
14 Jul 1742Hon. Edward Finch
20 Jan 1746John Mostyn
22 Jan 1747Hon. Edward CornwallisHon. John Waldegrave, 3rd Earl Waldegrave
5 Apr 1757Hon. Henry Seymour Conway
4 Jun 1757John Offley
16 Jan 1760Charles FitzRoy
19 Jan 1760Hon. Richard Savage Nassau

George III (1760–1820)

Date of appointment
27 Nov 1760John MostynHon. John WaldegraveJohn OffleyCharles FitzRoyGeorge SchutzSir James PeacheyEdmund NugentSir William BretonHon. Edward CornwallisHon. Henry Seymour Conway
10 Dec 1760Spencer Compton
11 Dec 1760George PittNorborne BerkeleyWilliam Northey
17 Feb 1761Hon. Augustus Keppel
10 Oct 1762
21 Dec 1762Sir James Wright
19 Jan 1763Sir John Mordaunt
16 Feb 1763Henry Seymour
5 May 1763Sir Charles Hotham-Thompson
5 Nov 1763Hon. Augustus John Hervey
April 1764*
24 Aug 1765Hon. Henry Wallop
3 Dec 1766Hon. William Harcourt
23 Apr 1770Hon. Henry Vernon
16 May 1770Sir George Osborn
10 May 1771Thomas de Grey
17 May 1771Hon. Henry St John
3 Dec 1771Philip Hales
8 Feb 1773*
28 Mar 1775Hon. William Gordon
18 Jun 1777Charles Herbert
22 Feb 1779Francis Lascelles
17 Jan 1783Hon. George Villiers
19 Aug 1784Robert Waller
20 Jan 1788James Whorwood Adeane
3 Jun 1791Hon. Robert Digby
26 Jan 1793Hon. Thomas Fane
29 Mar 1800Hon. Robert Fulke Greville
30 May 1801Hon. Arthur Kaye LeggeSir Harry Burrard-Neale
27 Apr 1802Hon. Edward Finch
24 May 1804
15 Apr 1807*
31 Oct 1808Hon. Edward Capel
1 Nov 1808Edward Pery Buckley
4 Mar 1809Henry Frederick Campbell
2 June 1809Hon. Frederick West
18 Feb 1812
10 Mar 1812Hon. William KeppelGen. Thomas Slaughter StanwixGen. Edmund StevensWilson BraddyllHon. William LumleyCharles Nassau ThomasHon. Henry Fitzroy StanhopeGen. Charles Leigh
10 Apr 1812Sir John Francis Cradock
28 Jul 1812Hon. Augustus Cavendish-BradshawHon. Charles William StewartTomkyns Hilgrove Turner
6 Jun 1816Hon. Sir Edward Paget
6 Sep 1816Sir George Campbell
5 Jan 1817Hon. Henry King
21 Nov 1818Joseph Whatley
19 Oct 1819Sir Edmund Nagle

George IV (1820–1830)

Date of appointment
Jan 1820Hon. Edward FinchHon. William KeppelEdmund StevensHon. William LumleyCharles Nassau ThomasHon. Henry Fitzroy StanhopeHon. Augustus Cavendish-BradshawTomkyns Hilgrove TurnerHon. Sir Edward PagetSir George CampbellHon. Henry KingJoseph WhatleySir Edmund Nagle
4 Apr 1820Lord Francis Nathaniel Conyngham
24 Jan 1821Sir Andrew Francis Barnard
11 Oct 1821Hon. Sir Charles Paget
7 Sep 1825Sir William Houston
27 May 1828Thomas Armstrong
24 Sep 1828Hon. John Robert Townshend
14 Feb 1830Hon. George Cecil Weld-Forester
15 Mar 1830Henry Thomas Hope

William IV (1830–1837)

Date of appointment
June 1830Hon. Edward FinchHon. William KeppelHon. William LumleyHon. Augustus Cavendish-BradshawTomkyns Hilgrove TurnerJoseph WhatleyHon. Sir Charles PagetSir William HoustonThomas ArmstrongHon. John Robert TownshendHon. George Cecil Weld-ForesterHenry Thomas Hope
17 Jul 1830Sir Hussey Vivian
24 Jul 1830Hon. Sir Robert Cavendish Spencer
30 Nov 1830Hon. Sir Henry Blackwood, 1st Baronet
23 Dec 1830Sir Robert Waller Otway
31 Jan 1831Sir James Reynett
24 Feb 1831Hon. George Pryse Campbell
12 Nov 1832Sir Charles Rowley
15 Dec 1832Thomas William Taylor
20 Jun 1837Accession of Queen Victoria.

Victoria (1837–1901) No Grooms of the Bedchamber appointed

Edward VII (1901–1910) The term "Groom-in-Waiting" was employed[46]

George V (1910–1936)

Date appointed
10 Jun 1910[47]Captain Walter Douglas Somerset CampbellCaptain the Hon. Seymour John FortescueCommander Charles Elphinstone Fleeming Cunninghame GrahamThe Hon. Sidney Robert GrevilleColonel the Hon. William LambtonThe Hon. Henry Julian StonorEdward William Wallington Esq.

The above-mentioned were gazetted as "Grooms of the Bedchamber in Waiting"; subsequently, the term "Groom in Waiting in Ordinary" was used.

Edward VIII (1936) The term "Groom-in-Waiting" was employed[48]

George VI (1936–1952) The term "Groom-in-Waiting" was employed[49]

Elizabeth (1952–) No Grooms of the Bedchamber appointed

In France

The French portrait painter Jean Clouet (c. 14851540) was appointed a valet de chambre groom of the chamber of the French monarchy in 1523, as was his son François Clouet later. The office could serve as a sinecure to provide a minimum income and social place for someone who enjoyed royal favor.

Many noble households in Europe had their own grooms of the chamber, known by various titles. See Valet de chambre for a fuller account.

See also


  1. Bucholz, R. O. "Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 11 (Revised), Court Officers, 1660-1837". British History Online. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  2. "Hawes, Stephen" . Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  3. Bucholz, R. O. "Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Introduction: Administrative structure and work". British History Online. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  4. Halliday, p. 460; spellings modernized.
  5. At that time, Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester (15631626), younger brother of Sir Philip Sidney.
  6. C. E. Challis, 'Sharington, Sir William (c. 1495–1553), administrator and embezzler', in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, September 2004
  7. Kinney, A.; Lawson, J. (2014). Titled Elizabethans: A Directory of Elizabethan Court, State, and Church Officers, 1558–1603 (2nd ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-137-46147-6.
  8. "STANHOPE, Sir Michael (c.1545-1621), of the Barbican, London and Sudbourne, nr. Orford, Suff.; later of St. John's, Clerkenwell, Mdx". History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  23. "TREVOR, John (1563-1630) of Oatlands, Surrey". History of Parliament. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  25. "LEGGE, William I (c.1608-70), of The Minories, London". History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  26. Bucholz, R. O. "Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Guard Chamber: Grooms of the Great Chamber 1660-1837". British History Online. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  27. Bucholz, R. O. "Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Privy Chamber: Grooms of the Privy Chamber 1660-1837". British History Online. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  28. Bucholz, R. O. "Office-Holders in Modern Britain: The bedchamber: Grooms of the Bedchamber 1660-1837". British History Online. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  29. Court Circular
  30. "No. 19787". The London Gazette. 8 November 1839. p. 2111.
  31. "No. 19829". The London Gazette. 24 February 1840. p. 409.
  32. "No. 21297". The London Gazette. 2 March 1852. p. 670.
  33. "No. 21342". The London Gazette. 20 July 1852. p. 2010.
  34. "No. 22231". The London Gazette. 18 February 1859. p. 641.
  35. "No. 22371". The London Gazette. 30 March 1860. p. 1252.
  36. "No. 22668". The London Gazette. 3 October 1862. p. 4723.
  37. "No. 23282". The London Gazette. 26 July 1867. p. 4169.
  38. "No. 23697". The London Gazette. 17 January 1871. p. 169.
  39. "No. 24054". The London Gazette. 16 January 1874. p. 183.
  40. "No. 24067". The London Gazette. 20 February 1874. p. 765.
  41. "No. 25409". The London Gazette. 28 October 1884. p. 4653.
  42. "No. 26073". The London Gazette. 25 July 1890. p. 4101.
  43. "No. 26448". The London Gazette. 10 October 1893. p. 5691.
  44. Edinburgh Gazette
  45. Edinburgh Gazette
  46. Edinburgh Gazette
  47. Edinburgh Gazette


  • Bucholz, R. O. The Database of Court Officers 1660-1837. Loyola University of Chicago.
  • Brown, Cedric C., ed. Patronage, Politics, and Literary Traditions in England, 1558-1658. Detroit, Wayne State University Press, 1993.
  • Halliday, F. E. A Shakespeare Companion 15641964. Baltimore, Penguin, 1964.
  • Walter, James. Shakespeare's True Life. London, Longmans, Green & Co., 1890; reprinted Kessinger Publishing, 2003.
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