An officer in a king's or a nobleman's household, whose principal business it is to take charge of the liquors, plate, etc.; the head servant in a large house.
The servant in charge of the wines and of officiating at dinner. He also looked after the family â€˜plateâ€(tm) sometimes sleeping in a room next to the safe in which it was locked at night. In the absence of a steward, he was the senior member of the male household staff, with power to fire the footmen. He also sometimes warmed and ironed the newspapers before the masterâ€(tm)s breakfast.
College butlers serve the senior members, e.g. at High Table.