These warrants are writs, bills or letters, nearly all on parchment, giving the lord chancellor, as keeper of the great seal, authority to affix the great seal to them to solemnise the Crown's wishes.
Royal commands were expressed, if not verbally, chiefly through the privy seal or smaller seals, later through the signet, and subsequently by signed bill, using the sign manual. Privy seal writs, mere strips of parchment, are much more numerous than letters and 'bills', which are a later, but equally formal, development of warrants from the early fourteenth century.
There are also warrants issued by regents, royal councils and military commanders, and by royal ministers such as treasurers, whether of England or of the royal household, as well as other household officials. Many of these instruments were enrolled in the patent, close, fine, Gascon, liberate, pardon, redisseisin, Scotch, treaty or exchange rolls, and the latter, many of them published, supply dates for undated material among the warrants.