Catalogue description Lord Steward's Department: Comptroller of the Household: Accounts

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Details of LS 1
Reference: LS 1
Title: Lord Steward's Department: Comptroller of the Household: Accounts

These Lord Stewards Department's accounts are concerned with the 'Ordinary' expenditure, i.e. that authorized by the Establishments but contain often only the incidental expenses and require to be supplemented by the ledgers and other books of the various sub-departments. Before 1685 petitions and minutes of the Board are entered in these volumes; however, there are few records prior to 1698 as a fire in that year destroyed most of them.

The accounts are rendered quarterly and divided by office, eg the kitchen, poultry, acatry, salsery, bakery, woodyard, carriage, chapels etc. Included here is the wardrobe, although this came under the control of the Lord Chamberlain's Department. They note the person who is owed; for what produce, other goods or services; the period for which payment is due, and the amount. Payees are given by name only without an indication of whether the person is a household official/servant or a tradesman. Imprest warrants, directed to the cofferer, by the Board, are also noted here (under the division named annotations). A great deal of diverse information is contained among these accounts. Eg expenses and allowances of servants and officials, and offices, such as nappery expenditure in the linen department; the weights and varieties of meats brought in or slaughtered; itemised expenditure for specific events.

Date: 1640-1761
Related material:

These continue (with some overlapping) the accounts in E 101

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English and Latin
Physical description: 105 volume(s)
Administrative / biographical background:

The position of comptroller of the Royal Household, whilst not a sinecure, was unclear as to duties by the eighteenth century. However, in origin the comptroller checked the accounts, and rendered his own account for ordinary expenditure.

Supplies were originally purchased by purveyors, who, acting under royal prerogative, went out from the court, buying supplies and commandeering transport for their conveyance back to court. The inspection of provisions received from purveyors was one of the daily duties of the clerks. During Elizabeth 1's reign a system of composition developed by which counties compounded with the monarch's agents for a fixed quantity of goods at a fixed price. For a time after this, both sorts of provisioning were used.

In 1660 the royal prerogative of purveyance was given up in return for a parliamentary grant for life, and the court now bought from merchants (now themselves the purveyors) at a price agreed on in a contract negotiated annually. Some purveyors were actually servants of one of the offices. This led to much improved regulation and eased the life of the clerks, as did the better organisation of the finances of the household by the creation of 'establishments'. These were begun in 1662 and comprised a list of fixed charges and allowances, regularly issued and amended by royal sign manual. They regulated every predictable (or 'ordinary') expense, such as the number of dishes, amount of ingredients, salaries and boardwages (payments in lieu of food and drink allowances, whilst in attendance on household duties).

'Extraordinary' expenditure had to be authorised by a clerk of the Board before it could be allowed in the accounts. At the end of every month the offices of the Department had to account to the Board for their expenditure under the two heads of ordinary and extraordinary charges. The latter had to be submitted in a separate 'creditor' along with vouchers (not preserved) showing the appropriate authorisation.

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