usher

Latin, hostiarius.

Despite the menial origin of the office itself, the usher was an officer of middling rank in the royal household, or in the households of the higher nobility.

Like most household offices, that of usher ultimately derives from the Carolingian court. Apart from one reference in Beowulf, ushers are not recorded in English sources before Domesday Book, though the office must be considerably older than that. Three ushers are recorded in Domesday Book, all Normans. John had a modestly wealthy estate in the counties of Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire; William held £15 of land in Devon; and a Robert son of William held several manors in Cambridgeshire and Leicestershire.

The office of usher is one of the few
sergeantries which can be traced back to Domesday Book, John the usher's holding in Somerset being the fee of one of the later medieval ushers of the king's hall.

For further information, see L.M. Larson, The king's Household in England before the Norman Conquest (1904); J.H. Round, The king's sergeants and officers of state with their coronation services (1911); R.R. Darlington, 'Introduction to the Wiltshire Domesday', Victoria History of the county of Wiltshire, vol. 2, edited by R.B. Pugh and E. Crittall (1955), pages 42-177; and David Crouch, The image of aristocracy in Britain, 1000-1300 (1992).
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