Home >> Cyclopedia Of Knowledge >> Census to Constable >> Chamberlain


office, lord, corporation, officer, chamber, household, duties and chamberlains

CHAMBERLAIN (custos cubicu:i, or cubicularius, keeper of the chamber). Cu. bicularius was the Roman name for a slave whose special business was to look after the rooms or chambers in the house, introduce visitors, and the like. The cubicularius was thus a confidential slave or freedman, as the case might be, and a kind of guardian of his master's person. Under the emperors the cubicularii were officers in the imperial household ; and were called the " cubicularii sacri cubi culi," the chamberlains of the imperial chamber. (Cod. xii. tit. 5.) The em peror's wife, the Augusta, also had her chamberlains. This office, like many others in royal households, is derived from the usages of the later Roman Em pire. In the Anglo-Saxon times, in England, the chamberlain appears to have had the name of Camerarius, and had the keeping of the king's treasure (Ealred, in Vit. S. Edw. Confess., c. ii p. 9), by which name this officer also occurs in the Domesday Survey. The word chamber (French, chawbre) is from the Latin camera.

The office of lord great chamberlain of England was once of the highest dig nity, and was held in grand serjeanty from the second year of King Henry I. by the family of be Vere, from whom it by a female heir, to the family of By the statute of precedency, 31 Hen. VIII., the great chamberlain's place was next to that of the lord privy seal. In 1714 the Marquess of Lindsay, then hereditary great chamberlain of England, having been raised to the dukedom of Ancaster, surrendered this precedency for himself and his heirs, except only when he or they should be in the actual execution of the duties of the said office, in attending the person of the king or queen, or introducing a peer into the House of Lords. This surrender was confirmed by 1 Geo. I. c. 3. The duties which now devolve upon the great cham berlain are, the dressing and attending on the king at his coronation ; the care of the ancient Palace of Westminster ; the provision of furniture for the Houses of Parliament, and for Westminster Hall, when used on great occasions ; and attend ance upon peers at their creation, and upon bishops when they perform their homage. On the death of Robert, the last duke of Ancaster but one, in 1779, the office of hereditary great chamberlain descended to his two sisters, Priscilla, Lady Willoughby de Eresby, and Geor giana Charlotte, Marchioness Cholmon deley. The office is nowjointly held by the families of Cholmondeley and Wil loughby de Eresby, and the honours are enjoyed in each alternate reign by each family successively.

The office of lord chamberlain of the king's household is changed with the administration. He has the control of

all parts of the household (except the ladies of the queen's bed-chamber) which are not under the direction of the lord steward, the groom of the stole, or the mas ter of the horse ; the king's chaplains, phy sicians, surgeons, &c., as well as the royal tradesmen, are by his appointment ; the companies of actors at the royal theatres, as part of the household, are under his regulation, and he is also the licenser of plays. [TnEsernm] One of the officers in his department is styled Examiner of Plays.

The chamberlain of the corporation of the city of London is an officer elected by the freemen who are liverymen. By an act of common council of 5 Henry IV. the office is an annual one, but it is very rarely that the existing officer is opposed. There has been no such opposition since 1778. The duties of the chamberlain are judicial and administrative. He ad mits ou oath all persons entitled to the freedom of the city, and hears and deter mines all matters of complaint between masters and apprentices, and may corn mit either. lie may discharge the ap prentice from his indentures, and a part of the premium may be recovered by a peculiar process in the Lord Mayor's Court. An appeal is said to lie from the decision of the chamberlain to the lord mayor. The chamberlain has the con servation of lands, 'nudes, or goods of citizens who die intestate, leaving orphans, on the application of such orphans or others on their behalf, for which purpose the chamberlain is deemed in law a cor poration sole ; but such applications are now rarely made. As treasurer of the corporation he has to receive all rents, profits, and revenues of markets and other items of receipt forming the income of the corporation, and to pay all money on account of the corporation upon competent warrants or orders. The fixed annual in , come of the chamberlain is 11 ti01. Os. 4d. : his "ancient bill of fees" is 941. 4s. a year. He obtains an annual profit of from 10001. to 20001. from balances of the corporation money retained in his hands. This principle of remunerating a public officer is strongly objected to by the Commissioners of Corporation In quiry (Second Report, p. 102).

In the Exchequer Court of the County Palatine of Chester there is a chamber lain, an office generally held by some nobleman ; and there is also a vice-cham berlain.

There was an officer called the cham berlain in two hundred and three of the municipal corporations investigated in 1834 by the Commissioners of Corpora tion Inquiry.