Quartermaster of the home -- what do you call that?

Is there a word that means “person who buys and manages supplies for a home, estate, organization, etc.”? Essentially what an Army quartermaster (as I understand the job) but in private life? Either including, or not, “managing finances” as part of it?

“Steward” might be close, but specifically means (again, as I understand it) “one who buys and manages supplies, and also pays and manages other staff, using someone else’s money, for someone else’s benefit.” I.e., he’s the *servant *you trust to run your household’s stores as well as financial tasks of other kinds. Is there an equivalent word that doesn’t imply the person described is of lower rank, station, class, etc. than those so served?


That used to be what the word “homemaker” meant. But it has evolved now to be just a gender-neutral term for a housewife, who’s duties would have included both housekeeping (i.e. cooking, cleaning, etc) and homemaking (the management side of things).

On the North Shore there are house or household managers who do all the activities you mention.

I was offered a position to do this for an estate in Highland Park; in retrospect I should have taken the job. Good money, great living quarters with a private pool, busy hours but not insane.

Chatelaine, but that is only for women. It’s also a word that can mean a little thingamabob that had several chains on it, and each chain had a sewing tool on it, like small scissors or a thimble.


IIRC in a “great house” those duties would be split between the Housekeeper and the Butler.

I thought “castellan” (English) or “châtelain” (French) was the masculine.



A ranch would have a foreman. A farm might have an overseer doing the day-to-day tasks for the owner. First mate on a ship does the duties for the Captain. Headmaster/Headmistress at a school working for the president.

I don’t think these terms (or majordomo) are really the equivalent of a quartermaster. A quartermaster (or a steward) is specifically assigned to purchasing and maintaining supplies and equipment. They’re not usually involved in decisions involving personnel or operations - areas that are supervised by foremen, overseers, first mates, and headmaster.

If you’re looking for a somewhat jocular term, how about chief cook and bottlewasher. Despite the implication of the name, he or she does whatever needs doing, not just cooking and cleaning.

Castellan is male, and chatelaine is female. Chatelain (no e) is male. Chatelaine as it refers to the assortment of household tools is generally a collection of things that a woman of the household would want to have with her, particularly sewing items.

It’s not a single word, but as a title, Head of Household was the person who managed the day-to-day operations of the house.

They oversaw the maids, cooks, animal caretakers, etc., managed purchasing of food and supplies, and were the point of contact between the family that lived in the house and the staff.

No, Head of Household meant “husband”. Supposedly, the husband made the important decisions of the household. He might or might not have purchased daily supplies, and might or might not have overseen the staff (if any).

The problem with all these terms is that the OP is specifically asking for “someone who is not of lower rank that those he serves through his administrative duties”. If you consider that the steward works for the household, the foreman for the ranch, etc. then they apply, but not in the exact terms you give.

Well, I normally called her Mom.

Seriously, Majordomo is probably the closest. Personally, I don’t think we have an exact translation in English.

This is the problem. If you’re serving someone, you’re automatically of lower rank than they are.

Just because you hire someone to do a job for you does not mean that the one hired is of lower social status. Think about a doctor or a lawyer compared to most people. Yes, if a lawyer ends up being someone’s full-time legal consultant they’re probably in a higher income level than them, but it is possible that the “someone” is a non-profit corporation whose administrators are average people who have pooled their resources. The lawyer serves at the behest of their group, and none of that group is socially privileged compared to the lawyer.

Now consider a family from old money that owns a very large home, one that houses a considerable number of the family, but due to changes in social conditions the members of the family can no longer afford to hire help for certain functions and instead one of them is designated as being in charge of obtaining supplies, just as one might be designated to handle their combined finances or do all of the cooking. There are traditional words for the last two, but is there such an English word for the first?

To answer the question, you could use “provisioner”.