King George II’s Royal Household Running Costs

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 a 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.

Ramsay, Allan; Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield; National Portrait Gallery, London;
Ramsay, Allan; Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield; National Portrait Gallery, London

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 reside with their employers rather than in their own home.

van Loo, Jean-Baptiste; Horatio, 1st Baron Walpole of Wolterton, as Envoy and Minister-Plenipotentiary at The Hague; Norfolk Museums Service;
Jean-Baptiste van Loo; Horatio, 1st Baron Walpole of Wolterton, as Envoy and Minister-Plenipotentiary at The Hague; Norfolk Museums Service

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 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 linen 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.


There are three Confectionaries, that prepare all such Kind of Delicates for the King’s Table, as Deserts of Sweet-meats, Jellies, Fruits, &c. Yeomen, £50 per annum each. John Fraigneau, Andrew Ferre, Alpon Caillo, Groom, £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.


Takes care of washing all the Table and Household linen. Dorothy Phillips, Laundress of the Table and Household linen, £120 per annum


attributed to William Hoare, oil on canvas, circa 1735-1745
Charles, Duke of Grafton, Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, attributed to William Hoare, oil on canvas, circa 1735-1745

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 first 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.

Francis Godolphin, 2nd Earl of Godolphin by Sir Godfrey Kneller

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

Necessary Woman

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 racehorses 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.

perhaps from the workshop of Sir Henry Cheere, 1st Bt, painted plaster bust, circa 1740
Colley Cibber Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, perhaps from the workshop of Sir Henry Cheere, 1st Bt, painted plaster bust, circa 1740

Poet Laureate, 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

Making Chocolate, via History Extra
Making Chocolate, via History Extra

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, but the pay was quite good (about £12,000 in today’s money).

Yesterday sen’night died, at her House at Hitching in Hertfordshire, Mrs Stubbs, Rat-killer to his Majesty’s Palaces. Her Place, worth above 100l. per Annum, is in the Gift of the Lord Chamberlain.

Newcastle Courant, 26 September 1741.

And we finish with one close to our hearts, that of Historiographer, Rob Stephens, Esq. £200 per annum.

Featured image

The Family of George II c. 1731-2, William Hogarth, RCIN 401358.  Courtesy of the Royal Collection

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