Lord Keeper of the Great Seal


Lord Keeper of the Great Seal

The Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, and later of Great Britain, was formerly an officer of the English Crown charged with physical custody of the Great Seal of England. This evolved into one of the Great Officers of State.

The seal, adopted by Edward the Confessor was at first entrusted to a chancellor for keeping. The office of chancellor from the time of Thomas Becket onwards varied much in importance; the holder being a churchman, he was not only engaged in the business of his diocese, but sometimes was away from England. Consequently, it became not unusual to place the personal custody of the great seal in the hands of a "vice-chancellor" or "keeper"; this, too, was the practice followed during a temporary vacancy in the chancellorship.

This office gradually developed into a permanent appointment, and the lord keeper acquired the right of discharging all the duties connected with the great seal. He was usually, though not necessarily, a peer, and held office during the king's pleasure, he was appointed merely by delivery of the seal, and not, like the chancellor, by patent. His status was definitely fixed (in the case of lord keeper Sir Nicholas Bacon) by an act of Elizabeth (5 Eliz. c. 18) ["1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, Precedence"] , which declared him entitled to "like place, pre-eminence, jurisdiction, execution of laws, and all other customs, commodities, and advantages" as the Lord Chancellor. In subsequent reigns the lord keeper was generally raised to the chancellorship, and retained the custody of the seal.

The last lord keeper was Sir Robert Henley (afterwards Earl of Northington), who was made chancellor on the accession of George III.

ee also

*Great Seal of the Realm
*Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland
*List of Lord Chancellors and Lord Keepers
*Lord Chancellor
*Lord Privy Seal
*Privy Seal

References


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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Keeper of the privy seal — Keeper Keep er, n. 1. One who, or that which, keeps; one who, or that which, holds or has possession of anything. [1913 Webster] 2. One who retains in custody; one who has the care of a prison and the charge of prisoners. [1913 Webster] 3. One… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Keeper of the Privy Seal of Scotland — The office of Keeper of the Privy Seal of Scotland, one of the Great Officers of State, first appears in the reign of David II. After the Act of Union 1707 its holder was normally a peer, like the Keeper of the Great Seal. The office has remained …   Wikipedia

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