Lord High Steward

The position of Lord High Steward of England, not to be confused with the Lord Steward, a court functionary, is the first of the Great Officers of State. Although initially the position was largely an honorary one, over time it grew in importance until its holder became one of the most powerful men of the kingdom. From the late 12th century, the office was considered to be bound with the Earldom of Leicester. When the House of Lancaster ascended the throne in 1399, Henry IV made his second son, Thomas of Lancaster, Duke of Clarence, Lord High Steward, but following the latter's death in 1421 the office has generally remained vacant, except at coronations and during the trial of peers, when the Lord High Steward presides. In general, the Lord Chancellor was appointed to act as Lord High Steward in the latter situation. The trial of peers by their peers in the House of Lords was abolished in 1948.

In Scotland, the hereditary position of High Steward was given in the 12th century to Walter Fitzalan, whose descendants became the Stewart family. In 1371, the last High Steward inherited the throne, and thereafter the title of High Steward of Scotland has been held as a subsidiary title to that of Duke of Rothesay, held by the heir-apparent. Thus, currently, The Prince of Wales is High Steward of Scotland.

In Ireland, the position was sometimes known as the Hereditary Seneschal. The position was held from the 15th century by the Earls of Shrewsbury and Waterford, also the Premier Earls of England and (discounting dormant and submerged titles) of Ireland.

Office Holder


Lord High Stewards of England, 1186-1421

Robert, 2nd Earl of Leicester 1154-1168
Robert Blanchemains, 3rd Earl of Leicester 1168-1190
Robert FitzPernel, 4th Earl of Leicester 1190-1204
Simon de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester 1206-1218
Amauri de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester 1218-1229
Simon de Montfort, 7th Earl of Leicester 1231-1265
Edmund Crouchback Plantagenet, 1st Earl of Lancaster 1265-1296
Thomas Plantagenet, 2nd Earl of Lancaster 1296-1322
Henry Plantagenet, 3rd Earl of Lancaster 1324-1345
Henry Plantagenet of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster 1345-1361
John of Gaunt Plantagenet, Duke of Lancaster 1362-1399
Henry Plantagenet of Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster 1399
Thomas Plantagenet of Lancaster, Duke of Clarence 1399-1421

Lord High Stewards of England at coronations, 1422-1603

Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham 1509
John Russell, 1st Lord Russell 1547
Edward Stanley, 3rd Earl of Derby 1553
Henry Fitzalan, 18th Earl of Arundel 1559
to Titles Page to Life Page to Home Page