Lord High Constable of England

The Lord High Constable of England is the seventh of the Great Officers of State,[1] ranking beneath the Lord Great Chamberlain and above the Earl Marshal. His office is now called out of abeyance only for coronations. The Lord High Constable was originally the commander of the royal armies and the Master of the Horse. He was also, in conjunction with the Earl Marshal, president of the Court of Chivalry or Court of Honour. In feudal times, martial law was administered in the court of the Lord High Constable.[1]

The constableship was granted as a grand serjeanty with the Earldom of Hereford by the Empress Matilda to Miles of Gloucester, and was carried by his heiress to the Bohuns, Earls of Hereford and Essex. They had a surviving male heir, and still have heirs male, but due to the power of the monarchy the constableship was irregularly given to the Staffords, Dukes of Buckingham; and on the attainder of Edward Stafford, the third Duke, in the reign of King Henry VIII, it became merged into the Crown.[1] Since that point it has not existed as a separate office, except as a temporary appointment for the Coronation of a monarch; in other circumstances the Earl Marshal exercises the traditional duties of the office.[1][2]

The Lacys and Verduns were hereditary constables of Ireland from the 12th to the 14th century; and the Hays, Earls of Erroll, have been hereditary Lord High Constables of Scotland from early in the 14th century.[1][3]

Lord High Constables of England, 1139–1521

A cousin was alive who was not granted the titles due to him and his heirs: Gilbert de Bohun, died 1381

Lord High Constables of England, 1522–present

At this point, the office merged with the Crown and was revived only for coronations. It was held at coronations by the following individuals:

Name Year Notes Sources
The Marquess of Dorset 1547 coronation of Edward VI
The Earl of Arundel 1553 coronation of Mary I
1559 coronation of Elizabeth I
The Earl of Worcester 1603 coronation of James I
The Duke of Buckingham 1626 coronation of Charles I
The Earl of Northumberland 1661 coronation of Charles II
The Duke of Grafton 1685 coronation of James II
The Duke of Ormonde 1689 coronation of William III and Mary II
The Duke of Bedford 1702 coronation of Anne
The Duke of Montagu 1714 coronation of George I
The Duke of Richmond and Lennox 1727 coronation of George II
The Duke of Bedford 1761 coronation of George III
Field Marshal The Duke of Wellington 1821 coronation of King George IV
1831 coronation of King William IV and Queen Adelaide
1838 coronation of Queen Victoria
The Duke of Fife 1902 coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra
1911 coronation of King George V and Queen Mary
The Marquess of Crewe 1937 coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth
Field Marshal The Viscount Alanbrooke 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Lord High Constable". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

  1. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Lord High Constable" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  2. Slater, Stephen (2002). The Complete Book of Heraldry. Anness Publishing. p. 172. ISBN 0-7548-1062-3.
  3. Alistair, Bruce (2002). Keepers of the Kingdom. Cassell. pp. 60–61. ISBN 0-304-36201-8.
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