Today we thought we would take a look at those employed in the Royal household of George II. We had no idea how many people it took to look after George II and his family until we came across a fascinating little book published 1734, that told us not only who was employed in each position but also their salary and duties. We don’t have enough space to cover all the roles (as there were so many!) so we have just included a selection, for more information, as the book itself is available online.
The salary bill for the Royal household must have been enormous, although there was major disparity between the wages of those who received board wages and those who did not and between those who were employed ‘downstairs’ and those ‘upstairs’.
As a guide, £100 in 1730 equates to slightly less than £10,000 in today’s money.
So we begin with Lord Steward, who had overall of control of the King’s household and the servants under his direction ‘below stairs’. The post was held by The Right Honourable the Earl of Chesterfield for which he received £100 per annum, plus £1360 per annum board wages. Board wages were sums of money given to the holder of the position to resided with their employers rather than in their own home.
Cofferer of the King’s Household, this role was another in the King’s gift and was held by Horatio Walpole Esq whose wages were £100 plus £400 board wages. His duties were, amongst others, to pay the wages of several of the King’s servants above and below stairs.
Here is baked all the King’s bread, and bread for the household etc. which is delivered it the pantry every day. The clerk, Thomas Holland Esq. is paid £80 per annum, John Clark, Yeoman £50 per annum and 2 grooms who were paid £40 per annum.
In the buttery is kept all the liquors, except the wine and delivered out to the Officer in Waiting. This again is managed by 2 Yeomans, Peter Campbell Gent. who received £60 and John Turner, £50.
The clerk of the Spicery keeps and delivers our all the spices etc. for the service of the Household which he receives from the tradesmen and keeps account of the same. Richard D’Avenant Esq.; £100 per annum.
Takes care of the linnen for the King’s own table, lays the cloth, and serves up water in the silver ewers after dinner, whence the office has its name. William Beager, £60 and James Towers £50. 2 Grooms £40 per annum.
Are purveyors of butter, eggs, fruit, pulse and all greens etc and deliver them out according to the Bill of Fare which being brought to them, the take care to have provided. John Skinner Esq; Clerk, £80 per annum; George Ackers, Yeoman £50 per annum plus 2 Grooms £40 per annum .
Whenever the King travels, they take lodgings for his Majesty and the household and ride a day before. Peter La Roche, Gentleman-Harbingers £60 per annum, plus 5 yeomen at £50 per annum.
When the court travels, they have charge to provide waggons, carts etc to transport the King’s furniture and baggage. 2 Yeomen at £50 per annum, 3 Grooms at £40 each.
We now move on to ‘above stairs’ which was the responsibility of the Lord Chamberlain of the King’s household, a post held by Charles, Duke of Grafton, for which he received a salary of £100 plus board wages of £1,100. The Lord Chamberlain has the principal command of all the King’s servant above stairs (except in the bedchamber, which is wholly under the Groom of the Stole), who are all sworn by him, or by his warrant to the gentlemen ushers. He has also inspection of all the officers of the wardrobe at all the King’s houses, and of the removing wardrobes, beds, tents, revels, musick, comedians, hunting, messengers, trumpeters, drummers, handicrafts, artizans retained by the King’s service; as well as of the serjeant at arms, physicians, surgeons, apothecaries and finally, of his Majesty’s chaplains.
Gentlemen of the King’s Bed-Chamber
These are frequently call’d Lord of the bed-chamber. They were ‘till late years, but eleven in number, whereof the Groom of the Stole, is the first, who, by his office has the honour to put on the King’s firs garment, or shirt, every morning, but it is now alternatively perform’d by the Lord in waiting, which they take in turn weekly, and attend in the King’s bed-chamber, when he eats in private; for then the cup-bearer, carvers and sewers do not wait. They are in the King’s gift.
Groom of the Stole, Francis, Earl of Godolphin.
Grooms of the King’s Bed-chamber £500 per annum
They wait in the King’s chamber during his Majesty’s dressing and wait at dinner, take wine etc., from the under-servants and give it to the Lords to serve to his majesty. When the gentlemen of the bed-chamber are not there, they perform the office, and have waiting weekly, two and two, by turns. They are in the King’s gift.
Pages of Preference £25 per annum. They are the subordinate also to the gentlemen ushers, wait in the Privy chamber, and take care of fire and candles etc.
Coffer-Bearers £54 per annum. When the court removes, they take care to see the baggage loaded.
Laundress of the Body Linen
Mrs. Margaret Purcell £400 per annum
Mrs. Susannah White £121 5 shillings per annum, for cleaning his Majesty’s private lodgings and find necessaries thereto.
We really like this one! Master of the Revels. Francis Henry Lee Esq. £10 per annum.
His office is to order all things which relate to the performance of tragedies, comedies, masques, balls etc. at court. He hath likewise a jurisdiction of granting licences to all who travel, to act plays, puppet shews, or other such like diversions; which is very beneficial to him and increases the smallness of the salary to a very considerable income: neither can of right any new play, at either of the two houses, be acted till it has passed his perusal and licence first, that he may castrate anything which shall be offensive or religion or virtue.
Groom-Porter £550 per annum
Has the inspection of the King’s lodgings, and takes care that they are provided with tables, chairs, firing etc. As also to provide cards, dice etc. when there is playing at court and to decide disputes which arise in gaming.
Messenger of the Avery, Nathaniel Bridgewater, £15 per annum
Thomas Panton Esq., for keeping six race horses at Newmarket, with all necessaries £500 per annum.
Master of the Tennis court
Has the keeping of the king’s tennis court and the profits which arise by playing; he has likewise the apartments belonging to it, which yield considerable perquisites. Charles Fitzroy Esq. £130 per annum.
Poet Laureat, Colley Cibber Esq. £60 per annum
There we other listed for whom there was no salary mentioned.
Embroiderer – Mr Thomas Haywood
Operator of the teeth – Mr. Peter Hemet
Chocolate maker – Mr Alphonse. Now that’s a job we would have enjoyed!
One we wouldn’t have been so keen on – Rat Killer, Mrs Elizabeth Stubbs.
And we finish with one close to our hearts, that of Historiographer, Rob Stephens, Esq. £200 per annum.
Feature image – The Family of George II c. 1731-2, William Hogarth, RCIN 401358. Courtesy of the Royal Collection