The Chamberlains of the Exchequer were officials of the English Exchequer from its creation until 10 October 1826, when the offices were abolished and their duties transferred to the Auditor of the Exchequer.
History of the office
The chamberlains originated as subordinates of the master chamberlain assigned to serve in the treasury, and migrated into the Exchequer as it became established under Henry I. The office of the original chamberlains became hereditary, and these chamberlains are sometimes called chamberlains-in-fee. It soon became a regular practice for them to appoint a knight to attend in the Exchequer and carry out their duties.
As the business of the Exchequer increased, the chamberlains in fee largely ceased their personal attendance on the Exchequer in favor of their deputies. On at least one occasion, during the reign of Edward I, a chamberlain in fee (the 9th Earl of Warwick) appointed two deputies, one to attend in the Exchequer of Pleas and the other in the Exchequer of Receipt; it was more usual for one deputy to be appointed, whose principal business was in the Receipt, or lower Exchequer. As the chamberlains in fee became merged into the Crown and ceased attendance, the deputies themselves became known as Chamberlains of the Exchequer or Chamberlains of the Receipt.
Chamberlains in Fee
In the 12th century the two hereditary positions of Chamberlains-in-Fee were held by the Maudit and Fitzgerald families.
The Maudit chamberlainship descended to the Beauchamp Earls of Warwick and passed into the hands of the Crown in 1483 upon the accession of Richard III, son-in-law of the 16th Earl. However the office was also held by the crown from death of Guy de Beauchamp in 1315 until the death of Edward II in 1327 because Guy's eldest son was only a young child.
The Fitzgerald chamberlainship passed by marriage to the Redvers Earls of Devon. In 1275 Isabel de Forz, eldest daughter of Baldwin de Redvers, 6th Earl of Devon, and 8th Countess of Devon in her own right, alienated her chamberlainship-in-fee to her steward, the moneylender Adam de Stratton. He forfeited it to the Crown on her death in 1293, after which time the office-holders of this chamberlainship were appointed by patent.
Chamberlains of the Receipt
Originally the deputies of the Chamberlains in Fee.
Appointed by the senior Chamberlain in Fee (the owner of the manor of Hanslope) until 1483, when that office was absorbed by the Crown, and thereafter by the monarch.
Appointed by the junior Chamberlain in Fee (usually the owner of the manor of Highworth) until 1290, when that office was forfeited to the Crown, and thereafter by the monarch.
- Officers of the Exchequer, Special Series #18 of the List & Index Society, pub. 1983.
- fitz Nigel, Richard. The Course of the Exchequer (PDF). p. xxvi–xxviii.
- Madox, Thomas. The History and Antiquities of the Exchequer of the Kings of England.