The steward (or seneschal) acted as a kind of legal advisor and treasurer to the mayor’s office in the medieval and early modern periods. His duties, which appear to be similar to those of the recorder, included serving on the various town courts, usually in an advisory capacity. Together with the chief officer (mayor or alderman) he kept the town coffer, and his consent was needed before any money was taken from it. The Steward's Books, those surviving extending from 1428 to 1706, contain a variety of information regarding receipts and expenditure of the administration. Some of the books have been published in the Southampton Record Series. A list of Stewards 1259-1443 compiled by R C Anderson from a variety of sources is included in the Steward's Books of Southampton, volume 1, 1428-1434, edited by H W Gidden. Further lists recording Stewards to 1619 also exist.
It seems that successive stewards had been deficient in their duties and by the time Dr Speed wrote his History of Southampton in the late 18th century, the office had been laid aside for a number of years. The steward was eventually succeeded by the office of treasurer.


Further reading:
History of Southampton, by Rev. J. S. Davies, p210. (HS/h)
Steward's Books of Southampton, volume 1, 1428-1434, H W Gidden (ed) (HS/l)
The Southampton Steward's Book of 1492-93 and the Terrier of 1495, by Anne Thick. (HS/l)
The Book of Remembrance of Southampton 1440-1620, volume 1, by H W Gidden (ed). (HS/l)


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