The Queen's Remembrancer (or King's Remembrancer) is an ancient judicial post in the legal system of England and Wales. Since the Lord Chancellor no longer sits as a judge, the Remembrancer is the oldest judicial position in continual existence. The post was created in 1154 by King Henry II as the chief official in the Exchequer Court, whose purpose was 'to put the Lord Treasurer and the Barons of Court in remembrance of such things as were to be called upon and dealt with for the benefit of the Crown', a primary duty being to keep records of the taxes, paid and unpaid. The first King's Remembrancer was Richard of Ilchester, a senior servant of the Crown and later Bishop of Winchester. The King's Remembrancer continued to sit in the Court of the Exchequer until its abolition in 1882. The post of Queen's Remembrancer is held by the Senior Master of the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court, currently Steven Whitaker.
Quit Rents ceremonies
The second oldest has been made, entered in the Great Roll of the Exchequer, since 1235, for 'The Forge' (forge) in Tweezer's Alley, just south of St Clement's Dane, near the Strand in London, for which the City must pay six horseshoes and 61 horseshoe nails - over 550 years old, since after being rendered to the Queen’s Remembrancer they are preserved in his Office, and with the permission of the Crown they are loaned to the Corporation of London to be rendered again the following year.
These two quits are paid together as one ceremony, during which a black-and-white chequered cloth is spread out — it is from this that the word "Exchequer" derives - combined with the introduction to the Remembrancer of the City's newly elected Sheriffs.
The Solicitor & Comptroller of the City presents the horseshoes and nails and counts them out to the Remembrancer who then pronounces "Good number." The knives are tested by the Queen's Remembrancer by taking a hazel stick, one cubit in length, and bending it over the blunt knife and leaving a mark, and the stick is split in two with the sharp knife. This practice stems from the creation of tally sticks where a mark was made in a stick with a blunt knife for each payment counted. When payment was complete the stick was split down the middle, leaving each party with half of the marked stick and creating a receipt (or foil and counter-foil). After the knives are tested the Remembrancer pronounces "Good service".
The third quit rent dates from 1327, and is for £11 in regard to the reserved interest of the Crown for the 'town of Southwark'. In that year the City was granted its fourth-oldest Royal Charter to acquire Southwark from Edward III for this annual payment. It was specifically retained by Edward VI in the 1550 charter to the City, which extended its jurisdiction over the outlying parts of Southwark. This quit is rendered by the Foreman of the City's Court Leet Jury of the "Town and Borough of Southwark", alias Guildable Manor, which is the area as defined in 1327. The continuation of this body is sanctioned under the Administration of Justice Act 1977. The ceremony takes place in the Cathedral library, the Glaziers' Hall or London's City Hall. This sum is rendered onto the Exchequer Cloth in the form of Crowns (5 shilling / 25 pence pieces), which remain legal tender. The Remembrancer pronounces "Good service" and this is witnessed by the Clerk of the City's Chamberlain's Court and the Manor Jurors to note that the payment has been made.
Trial of the Pyx
The Trial of the Pyx is a ceremony dating from 1249, formerly held in the Exchequer Court, now in Goldsmiths Hall. The Queen's Remembrancer swears in a jury of 26 Goldsmiths who then count, weigh and otherwise measure a sample of 88,000 gold coins produced by the Royal Mint. The term "Pyx" refers to the name of the box in which the coins are kept.
Forest of Dean
In 1688, King James II directed the King's Remembrancer to appoint Commissioners to supervise the planting of trees in the Forest of Dean. The Forest was an important source of iron, coal and timber to the Monarch, but had been neglected during the Commonwealth.
The Queen's Remembrancer is responsible for nomination of the High Sheriffs to each County of England and Wales, except Cornwall, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside, who are selected by the Duke of Lancaster (i.e. the Sovereign) via the Pricking ceremony.
The Queen's Remembrancer presents newly appointed Sheriffs of the City with a Writ of Approbation from the Monarch, sealed with the Great Silver Seal of the Exchequer. This takes place at the same time as the Quit Rents.
List of Remembrancers
- Humphrey Salwey, 28 September 1644 – 6 December 1652
- John Dodington, 29 July 1568 – c. 1659
- Thomas Fanshawe, 1st Viscount Fanshawe, 7 August 1660 – 26 March 1665
- Thomas Fanshawe, 2nd Viscount Fanshawe, 26 March 1665 – 19 May 1674
- Vere Bertie, 19 May 1674 – 4 June 1675
- Henry Ayloffe, 4 June 1674 – 13 September 1708
- Henry Stevens [disambiguation needed], 23 October 1708 – 25 June 1709temporarily appointed by the Barons of Exchequer while the rights of Charles Fanshawe, 4th Viscount Fanshawe and Simon Fanshawe to the office were settled; Charles, who had the next reversion, was a Jacobite and would not subscribe to the oaths required
- Simon Fanshawe, 5th Viscount Fanshawe, 13 September 1708 – 23 October 1716 (appointment retroactive)
- Samuel Masham, 1st Baron Masham, 23 October 1716 – 16 October 1758
- Samuel Masham, 2nd Baron Masham, 16 October 1758 – 14 June 1776
- Felton Lionel Hervey, 14 June 1776 – 9 September 1785
- Edward James Eliot, 4 October 1785 – 20 September 1797
- Thomas Steele, 2 November 1797 – 8 December 1823
- Henry William Vincent, 18 December 1823 – 1 February 1858
- William Henry Walton, 1858 – 1874
- Sir William Frederick Pollock, 2nd Baronet, 1874 – 1886
- George Frederick Pollock, 1886 – December 1901
- Robert St John Fitzwalter Butler, 16th Baron Dunboyne, December 1901 – 1905
- James Robert Mellor, 1905 – 1912
- Sir John Macdonell, 1912 – 1920
- Thomas Willes Chitty, 1920 – 1927
- George A. Bonner, 1927 – 1937
- Ernest A. Jelf, 1937 – 1943
- W. Valentine Ball, 1943 – 1947
- Sir Percy Reginald Simner, 1947 – 1950
- Sir Frederick Arnold-Baker, 1951 – 1957
- Sir Richard Frank Burnand, 1958 – 1960?
- Sir Anthony Highmore King, 1960 – 1962
- Claude Herbert Grundy, 1962 – 1965
- B.A. Harwood, 1965 – 1970
- Sir (William) Russell Lawrence, 1970 - 1975
- Sir Jack Jacob, 1975 – 1980
- John Ritchie, 1980 – 1982
- John Bullen Elton, 1982-1983
- J. R. Bickford-Smith, 1983 - 1990?
- Keith Topley, 1990 – 1996
- Robert Lockley Turner, 1996 – 1 October 2007
- Steven Dixon Whitaker, 2 October 2007 – present
- Queen's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer - successor to the Queen's Remembrancer of the Court of Exchequer in Scotland
- City Remembrancer - a senior officer of the City of London Corporation.
- J. C. Sainty (comp.), Officers of the Exchequer (List and Index Society, Special Series 18, 1983), 40.