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Picture of Georgian volumes in the Royal Archives

Transforming access, knowledge and understanding

Establishment Books

Manuscript page from Augusta, Princess Dowager of Wales's account book

Account of monies received and paid by Augusta, Princess Dowager of Wales, 1742, EB/EB/18 Royal Archives /© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

This collection is taken from a much larger group of establishment books acquired by the Royal Archives over several decades, by purchase and gift. The Georgian volumes in this collection mainly date from the very first years of the reign of George I through to the first decades of George III’s sovereignty. Two later volumes document the household of Queen Charlotte in 1817 and the issue of bread to members of the royal household between 1823 and 1856.

The role of establishment books

Establishment means household, or staff, and therefore these records generally contain details of the individuals who served a Sovereign, other member of the royal family, office or department.  Some volumes document only principal officers, while others provide information down to the lowest ranks of the household such as watchmen and necessary women. A number of the establishment books are in the form of registers, while others are account books detailing the salaries and allowances paid to those in service in the household, such as the series of treasurer’s account books for the household of Augusta, Dowager Princess of Wales, which provide details of the names, positions and pay of the Dowager Princess’s establishment between 1751 and 1759.

Page from Chapel Royal Memorandum Book

Chapel Royal Memorandum Book, 1719-1785, EB/EB/36 Royal Archives /© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

Other establishment books record the more mundane requirements of the household, such as the allowance of food, firewood and candles, as documented in the establishment records of George II.

Highlights from the collection

This mixed collection includes two particularly significant volumes; the Chapel Royal memorandum book provides a wealth of information about the day-to-day organisation of the eighteenth-century Chapel Royal, while the Office of Ordnance establishment book sheds light on those working in the office both at home and in foreign dominions. 

A small number of other establishment books can be found in other collections within the Georgian Papers and these will be digitised and published online as part of the Georgian Papers Programme.