The Berkshire Lieutenancy

The Lord-Lieutenants of Berkshire, 1545-2023

Forty-two Lord-Lieutenants have served the county of Berkshire since Henry VIII appointed Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, his Lieutenant for the Southern Counties in 1545. Brandon’s job was to co-ordinate local defence in the face of threats of French invasion, and defence remained the principal concern of Lord-Lieutenants until the last years of the reign of Queen Victoria. In the twentieth century the nature of the Lieutenancy changed, and today’s Lord-Lieutenants, whilst continuing to support the work of the territorial and volunteer forces, are primarily concerned with promoting social cohesion and encouraging and celebrating public and voluntary service in the community.

In this short illustrated history, the author traces the story of the Lieutenancy in Berkshire, from the tumultuous days of the Tudors, through the turmoil of the Civil War, the constitutional crisis of 1688/89, and the (relative) calm of the eighteenth century, until the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon brought new fears of invasion and a revival of activity. After a discussion of the nineteenth-century changes and the pivotal role of Lord Wantage, the book reviews the development of the role of the Lieutenancy in the twentieth century, concluding with a description of the work of the Lieutenancy today, and brief biographies of the 41 men and one woman who have held the post.

Berkshire’s Lord-Lieutenants have included courtiers and members of the Royal Family as well as leading local individuals. The common thread uniting them all is their position as the personal representative of the Crown in this Royal County.

About the author

Dr Peter Durrant MBE DL was County Archivist of Berkshire for 25 years until his retirement in 2014. He is Chairman of the Berkshire Historic Churches Trust and of the Friends of Reading Abbey, and is a Past President of the Reading Branch of the Historical Association. He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 2002 and was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of the Royal County of Berkshire in 2018.

Order form 

Postage and packing cost: 1 copy £3, 2 copies £3.70; 3 or more copies £5.

Payment by bank transfer preferred to ‘Berkshire Lieutenancy Account’, sort code 30-67-99, account number 38467960, with reference ‘History’ + your name.

Alternatively you may send a cheque to Office of the Lieutenancy for Berkshire, Royal Berkshire Archives, 9 Coley Avenue, Reading, Berkshire RG1 6AF.