Clerk of the Signet
The Clerks of the Signet were English officials who played an intermediate role in the passage of letters patent through the seals. For most of the history of the position, four clerks were in office simultaneously.
Letters patent prepared by the Clerk of the Patents were engrossed at the Patent Office and then sent by the Secretary of State to receive the royal sign-manual. The duty of the Clerks of the Signet was to compare the signed bills with a transcript prepared by the Clerk of the Patents, and then to rewrite the transcript as a bill of privy signet, which was returned to the Secretary of State to be signed with that instrument.
By the end of the seventeenth centuries, many of the Clerks of the Signet performed their work through deputies, with the office itself becoming a sinecure. The Treasury was given the authority to reduce the number of clerkships in 1832, abolishing one in 1833 and another in 1846. The two remaining posts were done away with in 1851.
List of Clerks of the Signet
- John Depeden c.1420 
- Thomas Andrew c.1422
- William Crosby 1437–1459 
- George Ashby c.1440 
- Robert Osbern c.1440 
- Edmund Blake c.1450 
- John Bowden 1452–1459 
- Richard Bell 1463–1474 
- William Robyns c.1470–c.1482
- Oliver King c.1473 
- John Wylde c.1475–c.1488 
- Edmund Gregory c.1479–c.1483 
The history of these earlier Signets in the medieval period is not recorded by the table below.
|bef. 1537||John Godsalve|
|2 October 1539||John Huttoft|
|14 April 1540||Thomas Knight|
|bef. 1544||William Honing|
|bef. 1545||William Railton|
|1547/55||Nicasius Yetsweirt||John Cliffe|
|30 October 1561||John Somer|
|December 1569||Sir Thomas Windebank|
|1578/89||Sir John Wood||Charles Yetsweirt|
|9 March 1589||Sir Thomas Lake|
|23 December 1595||Nicholas Faunt|
|24 October 1607||Levinus Munck|
|5 September 1610||Francis Windebank|
|13 January 1616||Robert Kirkham|
|27 May 1623||Sir Humphrey May|
|9 June 1630||John More|
|15 June 1632||Sir Abraham Williams|
|1638||Edward Norgate||Philip Warwick|
|1641/5||Sir Thomas Windebanke, 1st Baronet|
Appointments were not made under the Commonwealth of England until 1655 as the republic did not recognise hereditary house of Lords, so peerages were not created.
- 16 June 1655: James Nutley
- 20 March 1656: Samuel Morland
Appointments resumed upon the Restoration in 1660, including two of the former officeholders, Warwick and Windebanke.
|1660||Sir Philip Warwick||Sir Thomas Windebanke, 1st Baronet||William Trumbull||Sir John Nicholas|
|bet. 1674–1678||Sidney Bere|
|15 January 1683||Sir William Trumbull|
|9 February 1705||William Cooke|
|25 August 1708||Joseph Moyle|
|18 February 1716||Hon. Peter Alexander|
|2 October 1716||Gauntlet Fry|
|28 May 1728||Charles Delafaye|
|13 November 1729||Edward Weston|
|7 May 1736||Sir Joseph Copley, 1st Baronet|
|22 May 1746||William Blair|
|22 December 1762||James Rivers|
|15 July 1770||Montagu Wilkinson|
|16 April 1781||John Tirel Morin|
|4 March 1782||William Fraser|
|June 1797||Eardley Wilmot|
|24 January 1801||Sir Brook Taylor|
|11 December 1802||William Harry Edward Bentinck|
|19 March 1807||John Gage|
|30 October 1807||Thomas Norton Powlett|
|26 February 1825||Alexander Cockburn|
|8 May 1826||Augustus Granville Stapleton|
|15 October 1846||abolished|
|26 January 1847||Charles Samuel Grey|
|7 August 1851||Office abolished|
- Andrews, Charles McLean (1912). Guide to the Materials for American History, to 1783 v. 1. Carnegie Institution of Washington. pp. 268–273. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
- "Lists of appointments". Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 2: Officials of the Secretaries of State 1660-1782 (1973). pp. 22–58. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
- Otway-Ruthven, J. The King's Secretary and the Signet Office in the XV Century.
- Otway-Ruthven, J. The King's Secretary and the Signet Office in the XV Century. p. 159.
- J L Kirby (ed), Calendar of Signet Letters of Henry IV and Henry V (London 1978)
- Sir Nicholas Harris Nicolas (ed.), Proceedings and Ordinances of the Privy Council of England (7 vols, 1834-37)
- "Clerks of the Signet c.1539-1660". Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 2008-09-01.