• Discover who served Britain's Kings and Queens from King Charles II to King George V, from 1660 to 1924, at findmypast.co.uk
• North Americans and others could find they have ancestors recorded in The Royal Household Staff Lists
• Records feature an American who rose to heights at court of King William III and Queen Anne
• 'Chocolate Maker To The Queen', 'Keeper of the Lions in the Tower' and 'Moletaker' among some of the most extraordinary roles
Have you ever wondered who works in a Royal Household, or whether you might have a connection to someone who served the Royal Family? In celebration of The Queen's Diamond Jubilee, family history website findmypast.co.uk, in association with the Royal Archives, has today launched the Royal Household Staff Lists, a detailed collection made available online for the first time.
Previously only accessible at Windsor Castle by appointment, these rarely viewed records cover royal residences across the UK including Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and St. James' Palace, and include 50,000 staff records from the reign of King Charles II to King George V between 1660 and 1924. With details such as name, occupation, age, length of service and salary, the records paint a vivid picture of life in a Royal court, revealing what it takes to run a Royal Household and the wide range of duties involved.
North Americans and others of British descent will now have the chance to trace their family history back to forebears recorded in these Royal Household Staff Lists. The records also include the service of at least one American who rose from colonial origins to great heights at the courts of King William III and Queen Anne. Sir Steven Evance was born in New Haven, New England in 1654, before being sent as a teenager to London to apprentice to the Goldsmith’s Company. He went on to become jeweler to King William III in 1697 and then to Queen Anne in 1702.
"He eventually went broke (as many royal creditors did)", said Professor Robert Bucholz, a renowned expert on officials of the Royal Household and Professor of History at Loyola University of Chicago. "His full story is an iconic but sad one. He is a colonial boy, who makes his way to London à la Dick Whittington, rises to the financial and social heights – a knighthood and position at court – but he then descends into bankruptcy."
Debra Chatfield, family historian at findmypast.co.uk, commented: "To be able to view these records online for the first time is incredibly exciting – not only for people worldwide with an interest in the British Monarchy, but also for anyone wanting to confirm family rumours about connections to those who worked for the Royal Household! With such a broad range of trades and occupations spanning nearly four centuries of Royal Household history, almost anyone could find they’re connected to those who served the Crown!"
Pages, physicians and the 'Chocolate Maker to the Queen'
A reigning monarch typically had 1,000 staff in the Royal Household. The biggest department was the Lord Chamberlain's Department, which had on average 700 staff and was responsible for the ceremonial and social life of the Court. Traditionally, employees in this department included the 'above stairs' servants such as pages, craftsmen, chaplains, physicians, musicians, watermen and Yeomen of the Guard. There are also a number of most unusual occupations listed among the Royal Household staff:
Extraordinary Job Titles in the Royal Household*
1. Chocolate Maker to the Queen
2. Yeoman of the Mouth to Her Majesty Queen Mary in the Pantry
3. Necessary Woman to the Corridor and Entrance Hall
4. Keeper of the Lions in the Tower
6. Master of the Game of Cock Fighting
7. Groom of the Removing Wardrobe
8. Groom of the Stole
9. Strewer of Herbs
10. Laundress of the Body Linen
Professor Robert Bucholz commented: "The court at Whitehall, St. James’s and Buckingham Palace was not just the seat of the most powerful government in the world; it was also the political, social and cultural centre of the nation. Thus the records of Royal Household staff, preserved in the Royal Archives at Windsor and now made available online through findmypast.co.uk, are the record of their service to the British Crown."
Bucholz continued: "Professional historians have long had access to these records, but now ordinary citizens from around the world have the opportunity to track down ancestors here. Indeed, even I – an American of German and Mexican descent – found a namesake: one George Buckholtz, livery pony boy, undoubtedly part of the German contingent serving at the later Hanoverian Court."
Professor Bucholz has in the past corresponded privately with many Americans who have already succeeded in tracing their ancestry back to Royal Household staff using information now contained in this database, but previously more difficult to find. The release of the records online will now make it far easier for others to discover a similar link.
Debra Chatfield concluded: "People across the globe continue to be fascinated by the British Royal Family, as well as the relationship between 'upstairs’ and ‘downstairs' life. In the year of The Queen's Diamond Jubilee, this is the perfect opportunity to explore your family history and discover whether you have an ancestor who worked for the Royal Household."
For more information, please contact: Mick Thorburn: email@example.com