Lord High Steward

From Academic Kids

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 or Great 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, sometimes known as the "Prince and Great Steward of Scotland".

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


Lord High Stewards of England, 1186-1421

Lord High Stewards of England at coronations, 1422-present

Lord High Stewards of England at the Trials of Peers, 1422-present

the last trial of a peer in the Lords was of the Lord de Clifford for vehicular manslaughter in 1935

High Stewards of Scotland, ca.1150-present

Lord High Stewards of Ireland, 1446-present


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