Originally purely a household officer, the task of the steward, or seneschal, was to place dishes on the royal table, but like many comparable offices it gathered other duties and rose in prestige. Eventually, as lord high steward, he performed at coronations and presided over the trial of peers. In Scotland, the office became hereditary in the 12th cent. in the Stewart family, who became monarchs in the 14th cent.
Subjects: British History.