High Stewards of Wokingham

Jim Bell (Self-published, 2010) A5 paperback 40pp

This book by Wokingham based author Jim Bell is of similar format to his other books. It is comprised of an introduction on the origins of the office followed by a collection of short biographies on each holder of the office in the title.

The office of High Steward is that of an eminent person to act as a medium of communication between the Crown, government and the town of Wokingham, and the first appointment was made in 1612, following the town charter granted by King James the first. An unbroken series of 19 appointments from 1612 takes the reader through to the 1992 appointment of the incumbent at time of publication, Lady Elizabeth Godsal. As might be expected with persons of eminence their biographies (with a couple of notable exceptions) only contain a few Wokingham area mentions among their many national and international activities.

Taken together with his book, Former Town Clerks of Wokingham, these books contrast two very different views of civic service – the well-known intermediary between town and state, and the diligent and unsung local public servant. Both offer interest to historians; which depends on the reader’s preference!

Tony Roberts

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