Lord High Steward
The office has generally remained vacant since 1421, and is now an ad hoc office that is primarily ceremonial and is appointed only during a coronation.
At coronations of the British monarch, the Lord High Steward bears St Edward's Crown. The Lord High Steward also presides during the trials of peers in the House of Lords. In general, but not invariably, 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, although impeachment trials have not been abolished. There was a "Court of the Lord High Steward" which served this purpose when Parliament was not in session.
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. He held the post until his death in 1421.
The equivalent offices in Scotland and Ireland respectively are the Great Steward of Scotland (always held by the heir to the throne, known in Scotland as the Duke of Rothesay) and the Lord High Steward of Ireland (held by the Earls of Shrewsbury, who are also Earls of Waterford in the Peerage of Ireland).
Lord High Stewards of England, 1154–1421
- 1154–68: Robert de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Leicester
- 1168–90: Robert de Beaumont "Blanchemains", 3rd Earl of Leicester
- 1190–1204: Robert de Beaumont "FitzPernel", 4th Earl of Leicester
- 1206–18: Simon IV de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester
- 1218-1239: uncertain, probably vacant
- 1239–65: Simon V de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester
- 1265–96: Edmund "Crouchback", 1st Earl of Lancaster
- 1296–1322: Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster
- 1322–24: uncertain, probably vacant
- 1324–45: Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster
- 1345–61: Henry of Grosmont, Duke of Lancaster
- 1362–99: John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster
- 1399: Henry of Bolingbroke, 2nd Duke of Lancaster
- 1399–1421: Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence
Lord High Stewards of England, 1422–present
Incomplete before 1660.
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