The House of Lords, 1603-1649: Structure, Procedure, and the Nature of Its Business

By Elizabeth Read Foster | Go to book overview

4
OTHER OFFICERS OF THE HOUSE

THE GENTLEMAN USHER OF THE BLACK ROD

The parliamentary duties of the gentleman usher of the Black Rod began long before the opening of the session. It was his responsibility to provide many of the furnishings for the chamber and for the other rooms used by the king and lords, and also to order stationery and books for the officers and clerks. The care of Old Westminster Palace and the area around it fell within the jurisdiction of the lord chamberlain, a responsibility that began to pass to the lord great chamberlain by 1641. Maintenance of the buildings and construction of desks, tables, stools, benches or forms, and other "joined work" were the province of the Office of Works.1 But for other furnishings an order went to the master of the great wardrobe, who in turn issued a warrant to the gentleman usher of Black Rod for what was needed: 160 ells of canvas to make sacks, 22 pieces of crimson say to cover them, 14 tods of good wool to pad the forms, hay to fill the sacks, tape, nails, fire tools and andirons, screens, down pillows, chests, sunshades, pewter chamber pots, and close stools.2 Substantially the same warrant went forth before each parliament and sometimes before each session; but an account of who ultimately claimed the heaps of wool sacks and pillows or the regiments of fire tools, andirons, screens, and chamber pots does not appear. The clerks probably used most of the stationery ordered for them, the paper and parchment, as well as pens, sealing wax and sand, glue, cotton and thread, tape, needles, and bodkins. On the other hand, the gentleman usher, like the other officers, probably appropriated the books that he requisitioned year after year.3

He oversaw the cleaning of the House both before and during the session and authorized the payment of bills for it. This work was actually carried out by the yeoman usher, whom he appointed and who collected 3s. per diem for himself and his servants and 12d. per diem for the cost of his brooms and other tools.4 In 1628 the yeoman usher provided boughs,

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The House of Lords, 1603-1649: Structure, Procedure, and the Nature of Its Business
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • PART ONE - THE STRUCTURE OF THE HOUSE 1
  • I - THE MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE AND THEIR CHAMBER 3
  • 2 - THE PRESIDING OFFICER 28
  • 3 - THE CLERK 44
  • 4 - OTHER OFFICERS OF THE HOUSE 64
  • 5 - THE ASSISTANTS 70
  • 6 - COMMITTEES 87
  • 7 - CONFERENCES 126
  • PART TWO - THE BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE 135
  • 8 - PRIVILEGE 137
  • 9 - JUDICATURE 149
  • 10 - LEGISLATION 189
  • PART THREE - THE END OF A PARLIAMENT 203
  • II - CONCLUSION 205
  • ABBREVIATIONS AND SHORT TITLES 211
  • Index 305
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