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Arthur Bigge, 1st Baron Stamfordham

The Lord Stamfordham
Private Secretary to the Sovereign
In office
MonarchGeorge V
Preceded byThe Lord Knollys
Succeeded bySir Clive Wigram
In office
Preceded bySir Henry Ponsonby
Succeeded bySir Francis Knollys
Personal details
Arthur John Bigge

(1849-06-18)18 June 1849
Died31 March 1931(1931-03-31) (aged 81)
NationalityUnited Kingdom British
Constance Neville
(m. 1881; died 1922)
Alma materRoyal Military Academy

Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur John Bigge, 1st Baron Stamfordham, GCB, GCIE, GCVO, KCSI, KCMG, ISO, PC (18 June 1849 – 31 March 1931) was a British Army officer and courtier. He was Private Secretary to Queen Victoria during the last few years of her reign, and to George V during most of his reign. He was the maternal grandfather of Lord Adeane, Private Secretary to Elizabeth II from 1953 to 1972.

Early life

Bigge was the son of John Frederick Bigge (1814–1885), Vicar of Stamfordham, Northumberland, and the grandson of Charles William Bigge (1773–1849) of Benton House (Little Benton, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland) and Linden Hall (Longhorsley, Northumberland), High Sheriff of Northumberland and a prominent merchant and banker in Newcastle upon Tyne. He was educated at Rossall School and the Royal Military Academy and was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1869.[1]


In 1879, Bigge fought in the Anglo-Zulu War and was mentioned in despatches. In 1880, he was summoned to Balmoral Castle by Queen Victoria to give her more information about the Prince Imperial's death in the Zulu War, and he escorted the Empress Eugenie on her tour of Zululand to visit the site of her son's death.[2] In 1881, he was appointed equerry-in-ordinary and then served as a groom-in-waiting and assistant private secretary to Queen Victoria.[3]

King George V about to disembark from the Royal Navy flotilla leader HMS Whirlwind at Calais, 5 August 1918. With him are Lieutenant-General George Henry Fowke, the Adjutant-General of the Expeditionary Force; Lord Stamfordham; Lieutenant-General Joseph Asser; Major Edward Gerald Thompson, the ADC to Field Marshal Haig; Lieutenant Gush RN; and Rowland Baring, 2nd Earl of Cromer.

Bigge was appointed Private Secretary to Queen Victoria in 1895 in succession to Sir Henry Ponsonby and served until her death in January 1901. A couple of months later, he was appointed Private Secretary to her grandson, the Duke of Cornwall and York, who was made Prince of Wales later that year.[4] He continued to serve as such on the Prince's accession to the throne as King George V in 1910 and serving until his own death in 1931.[1] As Private Secretary to the sovereign he was sworn of the Privy Council in 1910[5] and elevated to the peerage as Baron Stamfordham, of Stamfordham in the County of Northumberland, in 1911.[6]

Lord Stamfordham one of those who supported the King's decision to adopt Windsor as the family name because of the keen anti-German feelings during the First World War. On 17 July 1917, King George V "issued a proclamation declaring, "The Name of Windsor is to be borne by His Royal House and Family and Relinquishing the Use of All German Titles and Dignities".[7] He persuaded the King to deny asylum to Tsar Nicholas II and his family, who were thus forced to remain in Russia and who were murdered by the Bolsheviks. He interpreted the King's response "Bugger Bognor" as assent to the renaming of Bognor as Bognor Regis.[8] He introduced the Duke of York (later King George VI) to Lionel Logue, who became the Duke's speech therapist.[9]


Bigge married in 1881 Constance Neville (d. 1922), daughter of Rev. William Frederick Neville, Vicar of Butleigh, Somerset : they had a son and two daughters.[1] Their son, Captain The Hon. John Neville Bigge (b. 1887), was killed in action near Festubert on 15 May 1915 whilst serving with the 1st Bn. King's Royal Rifle Corps. He is commemorated on Le Touret Memorial.[10] A daughter, the Honourable Victoria Eugenie, married Captain Henry Robert Augustus Adeane. She was the mother of Michael Adeane, Baron Adeane, Private Secretary to Elizabeth II from 1953 to 1972.[11]

Lord Stamfordham died, still in office, at St James's Palace on 31 March 1931, aged 81, when the barony became extinct.[1]





  1. ^ a b c d William M. Kuhn. "Bigge, Arthur John, Baron Stamfordham (1849–1931)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/31883. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ Knight, Ian, With His Face to the Foe, Spellmount, 2001, passim
  3. ^ a b c / Arthur John Bigge, 1st and last Baron Stamfordham Retrieved on 29 January 2018
  4. ^ "No. 27290". The London Gazette. 1 March 1901. p. 1499.
  5. ^ a b "No. 28384". The London Gazette. 14 June 1910. pp. 4164–4165.
  6. ^ "No. 28512". The London Gazette. 11 July 1911. p. 5168.
  7. ^ / British royal family change their name to Windsor – archive 1917 Retrieved on 29 Jan 2018
  8. ^ Antonia Fraser, ed. (2000). The House of Windsor. A royal history of England. University of California Press. p. 36. ISBN 0-520-22803-0.
  9. ^ BBC, Note reveals story behind King's speech film, 1 March 2011.
  10. ^ "The Hon. JOHN NEVILLE BIGGE | CWGC". Retrieved 17 July 2021.
  11. ^ Arthur John Bigge, 1st Baron Stamfordham
  12. ^ "No. 27285". The London Gazette. 15 February 1901. p. 1145.
  13. ^ "No. 27380". The London Gazette. 26 November 1901. p. 8087.
Court offices Preceded bySir Henry Ponsonby Private Secretary to the Sovereign 1895–1901 Succeeded byThe Viscount Knollys Preceded byThe Viscount Knollys Private Secretary to the Sovereign 1910–1931 Succeeded bySir Clive Wigram Peerage of the United Kingdom New creation Baron Stamfordham 1911–1931 Extinct
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Arthur Bigge, 1st Baron Stamfordham
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