Today, the administration of the Inn’s activities is led by the Under Treasurer, who is a paid member of staff. From the very earliest years of the Inn until 1899 the employee holding this post was called ‘Steward’
Up to the 19th century the Stewardship was sometimes seen as a useful perquisite for the relatives of Treasurers and Benchers, and the Stewards in turn often appointed their own connections to the lesser posts in their control. By the last quarter of the 19th century, in tune with the general decline in that period of the Inn, the Steward was notorious for his fondness for gambling. In 1899, on the death of the then postholder, Musgrave, the post was revised, re-titled Under Treasurer and given to D W Douthwaite, son of W R Douthwaite, former Librarian, who set a new tone of efficiency.
An isolated early use of the title “Under Treasurer” for a different function occurred in 1639 after the resignation of the then Steward, Nicholas Parry, leaving the finances in disorder. The Inn had for many years previously appointed a “Pensioner” from the Bench to oversee the Inn’s income and to protect the interests of Pension. This purpose having apparently failed, since one of the main reasons given by the outgoing Steward for the financial difficulties was the refusal of many of the Inn’s members to pay their dues, the Reader Thomas Tisdale or Tesdale was appointed to the position of Under Treasurer (in other words, Deputy Treasurer) with the express intent that he would “collect pencions personall and real, fines, moot failes, bolt failes and all other revenewes of the house” and report direct on the dues to the Treasurer: in other words, to be Pensioner with added authority. He had ceased to act by 1647, when Pension ordered that another Pensioner was to be appointed. No such appointment was made, however, and the post and function are heard of no more. Tesdale’s appointment of 1639 is thus not the origin of the present Under Treasurership, which is a direct successor to the Stewardship, as above.
- View the names of all Stewards and Under Treasurers (PDF)
This document gives the list of the Stewards from 1529 onward and of the Under Treasurers, their successors in function from 1899.