House Rules



A Book of Orders and Rules.

In 1595 The Earl of Southampton’s cousin, Anthony Maria Browne, 2nd Viscount Mountague wrote A Booke of Orders and Rules…for the better direction and governmente of my householde and family, together with the several! dutyes and charges apperteynninge to myne officers and other servantts.

His book wasn’t intended for publication, but was meant to be read aloud to the household once a year.

It was edited from the original manuscript by Sir Sibbald David Scott, and published by the Sussex Archaeological Society in Sussex Archaeological Collections. Vol. VII (London1854).

His list of the principal officers of his household, with my very brief summaries of their duties, is as follows.

  1. My Steward – Manager and Financial Controller of the Viscount’s household and estates, and answerable only to him.
  2. My Comptroller – Assistant to the Steward, particularly in disciplinary matters.
  3. My High Steward of Courts – oversees the courts leet/courts barrons on the manors owned by the Viscount. Such courts had no criminal jurisdiction, but resolved civil disputes and could impose fines.
  4. My Auditor.
  5. My General Receiver – assistant to the High Steward of Courts.
  6. My Solicitor.
  7. My other Principal Officers – advisers to the Steward and Comptroller.
  8. My Secretary – correspondence, keeping records, and receiving petitions from the Viscount’s tenants.
  9. My Gentlemen Usher – escorts the Viscount or his wife through towns, cities etc, (presumably ensuring that lesser beings get out of their way); also keeps inventories of the furnishings of the non-specialised areas of all the Viscount’s houses, allocating rooms to other servants, etc.  Also oversees the serving of dinner, and the clearing of the tables, making sure no uneaten food disappears “into corners”.
  10. My Carver – carves the Viscount’s meat for him, with due ceremony and reverence, and 11. My Sewer (Server) who distributes the food to those who deliver it to the table. Both appointed and commanded by the Gentleman Usher.
  11. The Gentlemen of my Chamber – the Viscount’s personal assistants.
  12. The Gentleman of my Horse – the Stables Manager, responsible for the welfare of the horses. Supervises the grooms. It was also his duty to help the Viscount onto his horse.
  13. The Gentlemen Waiters – accompany the Viscount or his wife whenever they go out for walks, and also wait on table at dinner and supper.
  14. The Marshall of my Hall – a temporary appointment. Keeps things running smoothly on important occasions like weddings and Christmas.
  15. The Clerk of my Kitchen – keeps inventories (in triplicate) of all the utensils used in the production and preparation of food and drink, oversight of all consumables and the “offices” where they’re produced, and ensures all areas are clean, and that people behave themselves in the kitchen.
  16. The Yeoman Usher of my great Chamber – one step down from the Gentleman Usher (9), with particular responsibility for ensuring rooms are kept clean and fresh. And food isn’t conveyed into corners.
  17. The Usher of my Hall – oversees the serving of food to the gentlemen (servants and guests) dining in the Hall.
  18. The Chief Cook.
  19. The Yeomen of my Chamber – one step down from the Gentlemen of my Chamber (12). They look after the Viscount’s clothes and jewellery, make beds, light the fires, brush carpets, clean the chamber pots…
  20. The Clerk of my Officers’ Chamber – secretarial services for the meetings of senior household officials.
  21. The Yeoman of my Horse – one step down from the Gentleman of Horse (13), and fills in for him if necessary.
  22. The Yeoman of my Cellar – makes inventories (in triplicate) of the household silver for the Steward, and also looks after the wine supplies for the Clerk of the Kitchen (16).
  23. The Yeoman of my Ewry – looks after the basins and ewers used for washing, the torches and candles used for lighting, and the table linen. Also helps the Yeoman Usher (17) make the Viscount’s table ready for the meal, including bowing to it (twice) and kissing it.
  24. The Yeoman of my Pantry – works closely with the Yeoman of the Cellar (23) to keep track of the utensils for serving and eating; also receives the bread from the Baker. Helps to set the Viscount’s table (bowing included) by placing the salt cellar, knives, spoons, and plates with a fine bread roll on each.
  25. The Yeoman of my Buttery – overseer of the supplies of beer and ale, and the various vessels for storing and drinking it.
  26. The Yeoman of my Wardrobe – “wardrobe” means “household stuff” – bed linen, quilts, rugs, etc. Supervised by the Gentleman Usher (9). Has particular responsibility for guest bedrooms (including checking that nothing’s missing when the guests depart).
  27. The Yeomen Waiters – one step down from the Gentlemen Waiters (14). It’s noted that they need to pay attention to their duties (no laughing or listening to tales). They also form part of the Viscount’s retinue on important occasions or when he’s in London, wearing swords
  28. The second Cook and the rest – supervised by the Clerk of the Kitchen (16) and the Chief Cook, with oversight of the kitchen boys, and particular responsibility for checking kitchen utensils are clean, and sending them back to the scullery if they’re not.
  29. The Porter – the gatekeeper; also keeps the inner courtyard clean, and, with the help of the poor, the green and the pathways outside the gate; helps the almoner (36) distribute alms to the poor.
  30. The Granator – in charge of the granary. Keeps a tally of all “corn” received from the tenant farmers, accounts for it to the Clerk of the Kitchen (16), and delivers it to the Baker and the Brewer,
  31. My Bailiff of Husbandry – land manager, with oversight of the Viscount’s farm, park, forests, meadows, fish ponds etc; employs husbandmen and labourers as need be; makes sure agricultural equipment isn’t stolen, and that others don’t graze their horses and stock on the Viscount’s land.
  32. The Baker and 34. The Brewer. Overseen by the Clerk of the Kitchen (16).
  33. The Grooms of my Great Chamber – probably only two of them, to do what the Gentleman Usher (9) and the Yeoman Usher (17) tell them. Lighting fires is one specific task.
  34. The Almoner. Works for the Usher of the Hall (18); lights the fires there from All Hallowe’en to Good Friday; keeps the Hall “clean and sweet”; chases out rowdy drunks and dogs; collects the leftovers from meals for distribution to the poor, with due regard to the most needy.
  35. The Scullery Man. At the commandment of the Clerk of the Kitchen and the Cooks; once the silver eating utensils have been cleaned he returns them to the Yeoman of the Cellar. Also makes the mustard, with “good seed. Eats in his Office (i,e, the scullery) with the kitchen boys.


  1. An order of Service at my Table. Outlines the ceremony with which the Viscount’s food is to be served to him.
  2. My determination for Officers Fees. By “fees” the Viscount seems to mean what we would call perks. The Viscount sees no reason why servants should lay claim to anything of his.