Earl Marshal

Earl Marshal (alternatively marschal or marischal) is a hereditary royal officeholder and chivalric title under the sovereign of the United Kingdom used in England (then, following the Act of Union 1800, in the United Kingdom). He is the eighth of the great officers of State in the United Kingdom, ranking beneath the Lord High Constable of England and above the Lord High Admiral. The dukes of Norfolk have held the office since 1672.

Earl Marshal of England
Arms of the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl Marshal.svg
Arms of the Dukes of Norfolk as Earl Marshal.
Duke of Norfolk (Norman Porch) 2022.jpg
The 18th Duke of Norfolk
since 24 June 2002
StyleHis Grace The Most Noble
TypeGreat Officer of State
Formation1672 (current office granted by Letters Patent)
First holderThe 6th Duke of Norfolk (1672 creation)
DeputyDeputy Earl Marshal
Knight Marshal (until 1846)

The marshal was originally responsible, along with the constable, for the monarch's horses and stables including connected military operations. As a result of the decline of chivalry and sociocultural change, the position of earl marshal has evolved and among his responsibilities today is the organisation of major ceremonial state occasions such as the monarch's coronation in Westminster Abbey and state funerals.[1] He is also the leading officer of arms and oversees the College of Arms. He is the sole judge of the High Court of Chivalry.

The current earl marshal is Edward Fitzalan-Howard, 18th Duke of Norfolk, who inherited the position in June 2002. There was formerly an Earl Marshal of Ireland and Earl Marischal of Scotland.


The office of royal marshal existed in much of Europe, involving managing horses and protecting the monarch. In England, the office became hereditary under John FitzGilbert the Marshal (served c.1130–1165) after The Anarchy, and rose in prominence under his second son, William Marshal, later Earl of Pembroke. He served under several kings, acted as regent, and organised funerals and the regency during Henry III's childhood. After passing through his daughter's husband to the Earls of Norfolk, the post evolved into "Earl Marshal" and the title remained unchanged, even after the earldom of Norfolk became a dukedom.

In the Middle Ages, the Earl Marshal and the Lord High Constable were the officers of the king's horses and stables. When chivalry declined in importance, the constable's post declined and the Earl Marshal became the head of the College of Arms, the body concerned with all matters of genealogy and heraldry. In conjunction with the Lord High Constable, he had held a court, known as the Court of Chivalry, for the administration of justice in accordance with the law of arms, which was concerned with many subjects relating to military matters, such as ransom, booty and soldiers' wages, and including the misuse of armorial bearings.

In 1672, the office of Marshal of England and the title of Earl Marshal of England were made hereditary in the Howard family.[2][3][4] In a declaration made on 16 June 1673 by Arthur Annesley, 1st Earl of Anglesey, the Lord Privy Seal, in reference to a dispute over the exercise of authority over the Officers of Arms the powers of the Earl Marshal were stated as being "to have power to order, judge, and determine all matters touching arms, ensigns of nobility, honour, and chivalry; to make laws, ordinances and statutes for the good government of the Officers of Arms; to nominate Officers to fill vacancies in the College of Arms; [and] to punish and correct Officers of Arms for misbehaviour in the execution of their places".[5] Additionally it was declared that no patents of arms or any ensigns of nobility should be granted, and no augmentation, alteration, or addition should be made to arms, without the consent of the Earl Marshal.

The Earl Marshal is considered the eighth of the Great Officers of State, with the Lord High Constable above him and only the Lord High Admiral beneath him. Nowadays, the Earl Marshal's role has mainly to do with the organisation of major state ceremonies such as coronations and state funerals. Annually, the Earl Marshal helps organise the State Opening of Parliament. The Earl Marshal also remains to have charge over the College of Arms and no coat of arms may be granted without his warrant. As a symbol of his office, he carries a baton of gold with black finish at either end.

In the general order of precedence, the Earl Marshal is currently the highest hereditary position in the United Kingdom outside the Royal Family. Although other state and ecclesiastical officers rank above in precedence, they are not hereditary. The exception is the office of Lord Great Chamberlain, which is notionally higher than Earl Marshal and also hereditary. The holding of the Earl Marshalship secures the Duke of Norfolk's traditional position as the "first peer" of the land, above all other dukes.[citation needed]

The House of Lords Act 1999 removed the automatic right of hereditary peers to sit in the House of Lords, but the Act provided that the persons holding the office of Earl Marshal and, if a peer, the Lord Great Chamberlain continue for the time being to have seats so as to carry out their ceremonial functions in the House of Lords.

Lords Marshal of England, 1135–1386Edit

Depiction by Matthew Paris (d.1259) of the arms of William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke (1194–1219): Party per pale or and vert, overall a lion rampant gules
Arms of "Bigod Modern": Party per pale or and vert, overall a lion rampant gules, adopted by Roger Bigod, 5th Earl of Norfolk (1269–1306), after 1269 following his inheritance of the office of Marshal of England from the Marshal family

Earls Marshal of England, 1386–presentEdit

Earl Marshal Term of office Monarch
  Thomas de Mowbray
1st Duke of Norfolk
1386 1398 Richard II
  Thomas Holland
1st Duke of Surrey
1398 1399
  Ralph de Neville
1st Earl of Westmorland
1400 1412 Henry IV
  John de Mowbray
2nd Duke of Norfolk
1412 1432
Henry V
Henry VI
  John de Mowbray
3rd Duke of Norfolk
1432 1461
  John de Mowbray
4th Duke of Norfolk
1461 1476 Edward IV
Henry VI
Edward IV
  Jointly: 1476 1483
Edward V
  John Howard
1st Duke of Norfolk
1483 1485 Richard III
  William de Berkeley
1st Marquess of Berkeley
1486 1492 Henry VII
  Lord Henry
Duke of York
1494 1509
  Thomas Howard
2nd Duke of Norfolk
1509 1524 Henry VIII
  Charles Brandon
1st Duke of Suffolk
1524 1533
  Thomas Howard
3rd Duke of Norfolk
1533 1547
  Edward Seymour
1st Duke of Somerset
1547 1551 Edward VI
  John Dudley
1st Duke of Northumberland
1551 1553
  Thomas Howard
3rd Duke of Norfolk
1553 1554 Mary I
  Thomas Howard
4th Duke of Norfolk
1554 1572
Elizabeth I
  George Talbot
6th Earl of Shrewsbury
1572 1590
  In commission:
1590 1597
  Robert Devereux
2nd Earl of Essex
1597 1601
  In commission 1602 1603
  Edward Somerset
4th Earl of Worcester
1603 1603 James I
  In commission:[7] 1604 1616
  In commission:[7] 1616 1622
  Thomas Howard
Earl of Arundel and Surrey
1622 1646
Charles I
  Henry Howard
Earl of Arundel and Surrey
1646 1652
  Vacant 1652 1661 Interregnum
  James Howard
3rd Earl of Suffolk
1661 1662 Charles II
  In commission:[8]
1662 1672
  Henry Howard
6th Duke of Norfolk
1672 1684
  Henry Howard
7th Duke of Norfolk
1684 1701
James II
Mary II
William III
  Thomas Howard
8th Duke of Norfolk
1701 1732
George I
George II
  Edward Howard
9th Duke of Norfolk
1732 1777
George III
  Charles Howard
10th Duke of Norfolk
1777 1786
  Charles Howard
11th Duke of Norfolk
1786 1815
  Bernard Edward Howard
12th Duke of Norfolk
1815 1842
George IV
William IV
  Henry Charles Howard
13th Duke of Norfolk
1842 1856
  Henry Granville Fitzalan-Howard
14th Duke of Norfolk
1856 1860
  Henry Fitzalan-Howard
15th Duke of Norfolk
1860 1917
Edward VII
George V
  Bernard Marmaduke Fitzalan-Howard
16th Duke of Norfolk
1917 1975
Edward VIII
George VI
Elizabeth II
  Miles Fitzalan-Howard
17th Duke of Norfolk
1975 2002
  Edward William Fitzalan-Howard
18th Duke of Norfolk
2002 Incumbent
Charles III

Deputy Earls Marshal of EnglandEdit

The position of Earl Marshal had a Deputy called the Knight Marshal from the reign of Henry VIII until the office was abolished in 1846.[9]

Deputy Earls Marshal have been named at various times, discharging the responsibilities of the office during the minority or infirmity of the Earl Marshal. Prior to an Act of Parliament in 1824, Protestant deputies were required when the Earl Marshal was a Roman Catholic, which occurred frequently due to the Catholicism of the Norfolks.

Name Tenure Deputy to Ref(s)
The 1st Earl of Carlisle 1673–?
The 3rd Earl of Carlisle 1701–1706
The 6th Earl of Suffolk and 1st Earl of Bindon 1706–1718
The 4th Earl of Berkshire 1718–1725
The 1st Earl of Sussex 1725–1731
The 1st Earl of Effingham 1731–1743
The 2nd Earl of Effingham 1743–1763
The 12th Earl of Suffolk and 5th Earl of Berkshire 1763–1765
The 4th Earl of Scarbrough 1765–1777
The 3rd Earl of Effingham 1777–1782
Charles, Earl of Surrey 1782–1786
Lord Henry Howard-Molyneux-Howard 1816–1824 12th Duke of Norfolk
Lord Edward Fitzalan-Howard 1861–1868 15th Duke of Norfolk
The 1st Viscount FitzAlan of Derwent 1917–1929 16th Duke of Norfolk
Edward, Earl of Arundel and Surrey 2000–2002 17th Duke of Norfolk

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The history of the Royal heralds and the College of Arms". The College of Arms website. Retrieved 16 April 2009.
  2. ^ Sliford 1782, p. 36
  3. ^ "The Monarchy Today > the Royal Household > Official Royal posts > Earl Marshal". Archived from the original on 17 January 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  4. ^ Companion to British History
  5. ^ Squibb, G.D. (1959). The High Court of Chivalry: A Study of the Civil Law in England. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. pp. 79–80.
  6. ^ Anne Mowbray Countess Marshal: Although Anne, Countess of Norfolk, Baroness Mowbray and Segrave is presumed to be the Countess Marshal, at the age of 7 on her marriage to the Duke of York, between 1476 and 1483 Sir Thomas Grey KT is said by Camden to have held the office of Earl Marshal. This hereditary claim to this office, probably descended from Sir Thomas Grey Kt (1359–1400), husband of Joan de Mowbray (1361–1410), daughter of John de Mowbray, 4th Baron Mowbray and Elizabeth de Segrave, 5th Baroness Segrave. Joan de Mowbray's son was also called Sir Thomas GREY (1384–1415) was the Sheriff of Northumberland and born at Alnwick Castle, seat of Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland. Thomas married Alice daughter of Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmoreland. Another Sir John Grey KG (1386–1439) married Lady Margaret MOWBRAY (b.1388 or 1402–1459) eldest daughter of Thomas de Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk (1366–1399) [Earl Marshal] and Lady Elizabeth FitzAlan (1366–1425). REF Complete Peerage. Volume V, L-M (1893) page 262
  7. ^ a b Venning, Timothy (2005). Compendium of British Office Holders. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 480. ISBN 978-1-4039-2045-4.
  8. ^ Sliford 1782, p. 37
  9. ^ Money Barnes, Major R. The Soldiers of London Seeley, Service & Co 1963, p.288