LONDON (Reuters) - Once upon a time a teenager from the 17th century American colonies came to England where he rose from being a humble apprentice to the dizzying height of jeweler to the royal courts of Britain, earning himself a knighthood.
The record of Sir Steven Evance, who served William III and Queen Anne in the late 1600s and early 1700s, is one of 50,000 now available online to allow the public to scour for details of any past family connections to the British royal household.
The household staff lists, previously only accessible at Windsor Castle by appointment, are being made available by findmypast.com in celebration of the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.
Diamond Jubilee celebrations will take place across Britain this weekend and the household lists, which run between 1660 and 1924, offer an insight into how Queen Victoria celebrated her own Jubilee, more than 115 years ago.
“People across the globe continue to be fascinated by the British Royal Family, as well as the relationship between ‘upstairs’ and ‘downstairs’ life,” said Debra Chatfield, family historian at the website.
“In the year of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, this is the perfect opportunity to explore your family history and discover whether you have an ancestor who worked for the Royal Household.”
Records reveal that at the last Diamond jubilee celebrations, Parisian chefs were brought over to help with the cooking, encouraging younger apprentices in the kitchens to grow their moustaches to resemble those of their French superiors.
With details such as name, occupation, age, length of service and salary, the records reveal the youngest to serve was a three-year-old child while a 96-year-old page spanned the reign of four Kings and Queens.
They also show that jeweler Evance suffered an unfortunate fate, amassing huge debts in trying to set himself up as an insurance broker and finally hanging himself.
“(He) eventually went broke, as many royal creditors did,” said Professor Robert Bucholz, an expert on officials of the Royal Household and Professor of History at Loyola University of Chicago.
“His full story is an iconic but sad one. He is a colonial boy, who makes his way to London à la Dick Whittington, rises to the financial and social heights - a knighthood and position at court - but he then descends into bankruptcy.”
Other notables include John Stuart who served in the royal household before becoming Prime Minister between 1762-63 while the uncle of poet Lord Byron served as Master of the Staghounds in Sherwood Forest.
Some occupations were better-paid than others.
Kitchen maids for example received 25 pounds a year while the head chef bagged 400 pounds per annum plus allowances.
Some of the more unusual jobs in the Royal Household included Chocolate Maker to the Queen Yeoman of the Mouth, Necessary Woman to the Corridor and Entrance Hall, Keeper of the Lions in the Tower, Moletaker, Master of the Game of Cock Fighting, Groom of the Removing Wardrobe, Groom of the Stole (an early form of washroom attendant), Strewer of Herbs and Laundress of the Body Linen.
Editing by Steve Addison