Clerk of the Crown in Chancery

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In the Government of the United Kingdom, the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery is a senior civil servant who is the head of the Crown Office.

The Crown Office, a section of the Ministry of Justice, has custody of the Great Seal of the Realm, and has certain administrative functions in connection with the courts and the judicial process, as well as functions relating to the electoral process for House of Commons elections, to the keeping of the Roll of the Peerage, and to the preparation of royal documents such as warrants required to pass under the Royal Sign Manual, fiats, letters patent, etc.

Duties[edit]

Since 1885 the office of Clerk of the Crown in Chancery has been combined with that of Permanent Secretary to the Lord Chancellor's Department (now the Ministry of Justice).

All formal royal documents (such as warrants to be signed by the monarch; letters patent, both those that are signed by the Queen herself and those that are approved by warrant; and royal charters) are prepared by the Crown Office.

The Crown office is also responsible for sealing with the Great Seal of the Realm all documents that need to pass under that seal, once the authority for the use of the seal is signified by the Sovereign (authorization to use the Seal is granted either by the monarch signing a warrant that approves the draft text of letters patent, directs that they be prepared and authorizes them to be sealed and issued; or by the Sovereign directly signing the letters patent that are to pass under the great seal, as is necessary in some cases, such in the case letters patent that grant Royal Assent to bills passed by Parliament and in the cases of instruments of consent relating to royal marriages).

The Clerk of the Crown in Chancery discharges his functions regarding the use of the Great Seal and the preparation of royal warrants, letters patent, etc., under the direction of the Lord Chancellor, who is the keeper of the Great Seal of the Realm.

The Crown Office is also responsible for maintaining and updating the Roll of the Peerage. The Secretary of State for Justice is the keeper of the Peerage Roll, and his duties in that regard are daily discharged by a Registrar of the Peerage and a Deputy Registrar, who work within the Crown Office and are therefore under the supervision of the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery. The duties of the Ministry of Justice regarding the keeping and maintenance of the Roll of the Peerage are discharged in collaboration with the Garter King of Arms and Lord Lyon King of Arms, regarding their respective heraldic jurisdictions. The Crown Office also compiles the Official Roll of the Baronetage.

The Crown Office also has duties relating to the elections for the House of Commons. The Clerk of the Crown in Chancery initiates a parliamentary election in a constituency by sending an Election Writ to the Returning Officer of the constituency, and receives all ballot papers and ballot stubs after the election is complete;[1] these are retained for a year.

The Clerk issues Election Writs to all constituencies whenever the Queen makes a proclamation summoning a new Parliament; and he issues an Election Writ to a specific constituency whenever that constituency's seat is certified as vacant. The Clerk of the Crown in Chancery also prepares a Return Book, listing the names of all those who are returned as members of the House of Commons in a general election, and delivers that book to the Clerk of the House of Commons on the first day of a new Parliament. The Clerk of the Crown in Chancery also formally acquaints the Clerk of the House of Commons of the name of MPs returned in a by-election.

List of Clerks of the Crown in Chancery[edit]

Names in parentheses are those of individuals granted the office of Clerk of the Crown in Chancery in reversion after a previous holder of that office or fellow grantee, but did not in fact hold the office; dates overlap because at various points there was more than one holder of the office at a certain time.

  • Benedict Normanton 1331-1350
  • John Tamworth 1350-1376
  • Geoffrey Martin 1376-1396
  • Edmund Brudenell 1380-1385
  • James Billingford 1385-1409
  • John Clerk 1396-1415
  • William Champneys 1409-1415
  • Richard Sturgeon 1415-1449
  • Thomas Haseley 1415-1449
  • Thomas Ive 1448-1481
  • William Rous 1449-1470
  • [William Swerendon; grant in reversion after William Rous, 1461]
  • John Bagot 1470-1499
  • Richard Ive 1481-1487
  • Gilbert Bacheler 1485-1500
  • Clement Clerk 1487-1504
  • William Porter 1504-1522
  • Ralph Pexall 1522-1537
  • Sir Thomas Pope 1537-1544
  • John Lucas 1538-1544
  • Edmund Martin 1544-1568
  • Thomas Powle (I) 1546-1601
  • [Thomas Powle (II); grant in reversion after Thomas Powle I, 1579]
  • [Rowland Watson; grant in reversion after Thomas Powle I and II, 1589]
  • Sir George Coppin 1597-1620
  • [Miles Raynsford; grant in reversion after Sir George Coppin, 1603]
  • Sir Thomas Edmondes 1620-1629
  • [Anthony Luther; grant in reversion after Sir George Coppin and Sir Thomas Edmondes, 1610]
  • [Thomas Luther; grant in reversion after Sir George Coppin and Sir Thomas Edmondes, 1610]
  • Thomas Willis (I) 1629-1656
  • [Richard Beringer; grant in reversion after Thomas Willis I, 1629]
  • Sir Arthur Mainwaring; grant in reversion after Thomas Willis I, 1636]
  • [Andrew Pitcairn; grant in reversion after Thomas Willis I and Richard Beringer, 1636]
  • [ Thomas Willis (II); grant in reversion after Thomas Willis I, 1641]
  • John Bolles 1643-1654
  • Nathaniel Taylor 1655-1659
  • Valentine Willis 1660 (Feb-Jun; grant in reversion after Thomas Willis I and II, 1641)
  • Henry Barker 1660-1692
  • [Sir Peter Apsley; grant in reversion after Henry Barker, 1667]
  • Thomas Chute 1692-1701
  • George Wright 1701-1725
  • Stephen Bisse 1725-1746
  • Thomas Bray 1725-1737
  • Charles Yorke 1746-1770
  • John Yorke 1746-1801
  • The Earl Bathurst 1801-1834
  • Apsley Bathurst 1801-1805
  • William Scott; grant in reversion after Henry, 3rd Earl Bathurst and Hon. Apsley Bathurst, 1805
  • Denis Le Marchant 1834
  • Leonard Edmunds 1834-1848
  • Charles Edward Pepys 1848-1851
  • Charles Romilly 1851-1880
  • Ralph Charlton Palmer 1880-1885
  • Sir Kenneth Muir Mackenzie 1885-1915
  • Sir Claud Schuster 1915-1944
  • Sir Albert Napier 1944-1954
  • Sir George Coldstream 1954-1968
  • Sir Denis Dobson 1968-1977
  • Sir Wilfrid Bourne 1977-1982
  • Sir Derek Oulton 1982-1989
  • Sir Thomas Legg 1989-1998
  • Sir Hayden Phillips 1998-2004
  • Sir Alexander Allan 2004-2007
  • Sir Suma Chakrabarti 2007–2012
  • Dame Ursula Brennan 2012-

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Memorandum on Electoral Law and Administration

External links[edit]