Comptroller of the Household

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The Comptroller of the Household is an ancient position in the British royal household, nominally the second-ranking member of the Lord Steward's department after the Treasurer of the Household. The Comptroller was an ex officio member of the Board of Green Cloth, until that body was abolished in the reform of the local government licensing in 2004. In recent times, a senior government whip has invariably occupied the office. On state occasions the Comptroller (in common with certain other senior officers of the Household) carries a white staff of office, as often seen in portraits.[1]


File:Sir Edward Rogers from NPG.jpg
Sir Edward Rogers, 'Controller to Queen Elizabeth' in the 1560s, holding his white staff of office

"Comptroller" is an archaic spelling of "controller", recorded since c.1500 in a number of British titles, and later also in the USA. The variant in spelling results from the influence of French compte "account".

The office of Comptroller of the Household derives from the medieval Household office of Controller of the Wardrobe, who was deputy to the Keeper (or Treasurer) of the Wardrobe, as well as an important official in his own right as keeper of the Privy Seal. Later, both these offices became high-ranking political appointments.

In modern times, the Comptroller has become a less prominent position in British politics. The holder is one of the Government whips in the House of Commons, and their responsibilities for the Royal Household are now purely nominal, except being occasionally called upon to act as an usher at Royal Garden Parties. The current Comptroller of the Household is Gavin Barwell.

Known incumbents

15th century

16th century

17th century

18th century

19th century

20th century

21st century


  1. Astington, John (1999). English Court Theatre, 1558–1642. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. p. 177. ISBN 978-0-521-64065-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. The history of the house of Stanley, etc p.41
  3. "Charlton, Sir Thomas". Oxford DNB. Retrieved 2011-12-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2  [ "Parr, William (1434-1483?)" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 The Household of Edward IV, Manchester University Press ND. Google ebook
  6. 6.0 6.1 The DNB gives Sir William Parr as Comptroller of the Household from 1471 to 1483; Household of Edward IV gives Parr's office dates as 1471–1475 and again in 1481–1483.
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12 7.13 7.14 7.15 7.16 7.17 7.18 7.19 7.20 7.21 7.22 7.23 7.24 7.25 7.26 7.27 Green Cloth officeholders
  8. J. Palmer, A Biographical History of England (1824), 86–7.
  9. "Gavin Barwell given ancient Government role after holding on to Croydon Central seat". Your Local Guardan. 13 May 2014. Retrieved 13 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>