THE BLACK ROD
November 21, 1891
General Sir Michael Anthony Shrapnel Biddulph
Keeper of Regalia at the Tower of London; Military
Here is an interesting image published in Vanity Fair in 1891 of a gentleman who held one of the land’s high offices.
He was Groom in waiting to Queen Victoria and Keeper of the Crown Jewels. Then for 8 years from 1896 to 1904 he was Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod. Known just as the ‘Black Rod’ he was a senior officer of the House of Lords. Amongst his many duties he was responsible for and controlling access to and maintaining order within the House and its precincts.
The Biddulph family has an extremely complicated genealogy into which I dabbled many years ago. It is clear, however, that this gentleman is the grandson of RACHEL SHRAPNEL who is the sister of General HENRY SHRAPNEL.
She married Rev THOMAS TREGENNA BIDDULPH thus forging the family link with the Biddulphs of Ledbury and Amroth Castle, Pembroke.
I make no attempt here to give more of the biography of Sir Michael. Those who wish to pursue further information about his life should look in the Dictionary of National Biography where there is a thousand word definitive entry about him. There are several incorrect statements about his ancestry in other online encyclopaedias.
N.B. Many UK libraries have online access to the DNB whereby you simply use your library card number for access. No doubt similar arrangements apply overseas.