The Office of High Steward ranks third in Civic Ceremonials after the Mayor and the Honorary Recorder. The position is the highest office that the Council can bestow and is only granted in a few local authorities. Once granted, the position is held for life.
Since 1557, the Borough of Ipswich has granted the Office of High Steward to twenty-four distinguished men, including Admiral Lord Nelson, the Earl of Essex and Field Marshal Earl Kitchener of Khartoum.
The power to appoint a High Steward was not granted by Royal charter, and it was not until 1665 that the person holding the office of High Steward was first referred to in a Royal charter, by King Charles II.
No official records define the High Steward's duties, but he was often asked to present petitions to the Sovereign on behalf of the Borough. In recent years the High Steward has been present at most major ceremonial functions.
1557-1580 Sir William Cardell
1581-1590 Sir Francis Walsingham
1590-1596 Lord Hunsdon
1596-1600 Robert Devereaux, KG
1600-1609 Rt Hon Thomas Buckhurst
1609-1627 Thomas, Earl of Suffolk
1627-1653 Theophilus, Governor of the Isle of Jersey
1653-1692 James, son of Theophilus
1699-1703 Charles, Lord Cornwallis
1703-1726 Earl of Dysart, Sir Lionel Tollemache
1800-1805 Admiral Lord Nelson
1806-1821 Rt Hon Wilbraham
1821-1848 Sir Robert Harland, Bart
1849-1874 Mr Charles Austin
1875-1882 Mr John Chevalier Cobbold
1882-1884 Sir Richard Wallace, Bart
1884-1909 Lord Gwydyr, Peter Robert Burrell
1909-1916 Field Marshall Rt Hon Earl Kitchener of Khartoum and Aspel
1916-1932 Alderman Sir Edward Packard
1932-1949 Rt Hon Lord Woodbridge of Ipswich
1950-1964 Rt Hon Lord Cranworth KG, MC, DI
1967-1988 Vice Admiral Sir Frank Mason KCB
1990- 2007 Stuart Whiteley, CBE, QPM