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The wardrobe, along with the chamber, made up the personal part of medieval English government known as the king's household. Its chief officer went under the title of Master or Keeper of the Great Wardrobe. As a result, the wardrobe often appropriated large funds from the exchequer, the main financial government office. During the reign of Edward I, Edward II and Edward III, there were several conflicts over the confusion of authority between these two offices. The conflict was largely resolved in the mid-fourteenth century when William Edington, as treasurer under Edward III, brought the wardrobe in under the financial oversight – if not control – of the exchequer.

In the sixteenth century the wardrobe lost much of its former importance. This was due both to the growing sophistication and size of government making it less mobile, and to the lower frequency of military campaigns led by the king in person.


Keepers or Masters of the Great Wardrobe

The Master of the Great Wardrobe was a position in the British Royal Household. The holders were responsible for running the Great Wardrobe, an office which provided clothing and textiles to the British Royal Family. Below is a list of known holders until the abolition of the office in 1782.

Deputy Masters of the Great Wardrobe

The Deputy Master of the Great Wardrobe was a position in the British Royal Household, the chief subordinate to the Master of the Great Wardrobe. Holders enjoyed a salary of £200 (fixed in 1674), reduced to £150 in 1761. The post seems to have developed into a sinecure, and by 1765, the office of Assistant to the Deputy Master had become established. The post was abolished with the other offices of the Great Wardrobe in 1782.

  • 1660: Thomas Townshend
  • 1680: Robert Nott
  • 1685: Thomas Robson
  • 1689: Robert Nott
  • 1695: Charles Bland
  • bef. 1707: Thomas Dummer
  • 1750: William Robinson
  • 1754: Hon. Daines Barrington
  • 1756: Sir William Robinson, Bt
  • 1760: Thomas Gilbert
  • 1763: Paul Whitehead
  • 1765–1782: William Ashburnham[1]

See also


  1. ^ Sir Lewis Namier & John Brooke, ed (1985). The House of Commons, 1754-1790. vol. II. Cambridge: Secker & Warburg. pp. 28-29.  
  • Database of Court Officers
  • Tout, T. F. (1920-33). Chapters in the Administrative History of Mediaeval England: the Wardrobe, the Chamber and the Small Seals, 6 vol. Manchester: Manchester University Press.


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