Catalogue description Chancery: Warrants for the Great Seal, Series II

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Details of C 82
Reference: C 82
Title: Chancery: Warrants for the Great Seal, Series II

Various instruments which constituted the authority for the issue of royal acts under the great seal, the order coming either directly from the monarch or through a minister.

The majority are privy seal warrants, followed by signed bills, which were immediate warrants from the monarch under signature or stamp; they include some royal proclamations. Also present are warrants by senior officials like the treasurer, the masters of wards and of liveries, general surveyors and commissioners.

Date: 1485-1714

The warrants are kept in files, by month. Some files are wanting. Those warrants without exact dates are given in bundles by regnal year, or by reign. There are very few files between 1644 and 1660.

Related material:

Privy seal warrants are also in PSO 2

Separated material:

A collection of warrants for and docquets of privy seals, dating from 1634 to 1711 and formerly belonging to the Duke of Newcastle as lord privy seal in the reign of Queen Anne, is among the Harleian MSS in the British Library.

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English and Latin
Physical description: 2977 bundle(s)
Custodial history: After leaving Chancery, the warrants in this series were sent to the Petty Bag Office for safe-keeping, and were stored in the Rolls Chapel in Chancery Lane.
Publication note:

The warrants for the reign of Edward VI are calendared in Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward VI (London, 1924-29). Other documents in the series are calendared in Letters and Papers, foreign and domestic, of the reign of Henry VIII (London, 1862-1932). The warrants for 1625 to 1632 and 1632 to 1636 are calendared in the Report of the Deputy Keeper of Public Records, 43 (1882) and 48 (1887). Some of the proclamations in the series have been printed in Tudor Royal Proclamations, 1485-1603, ed P L Hughes and J F Larkin (3 vols, New Haven, 1964-69). See also, Stuart Royal Proclamations, 1603-1646, ed P L Hughes and J F Larkin (2 vols, New Haven, 1973-83).

Administrative / biographical background:

The provisions of the act of 1535 for the passing of instruments under the great seal remained substantially in force until 1851, when the Signet Office was abolished and the signet bill ceased to be the lord privy seal's authority for his warrant to the lord chancellor.

The sign manual warrants, which thereafter took the place of signet bills, were sent on to the lord chancellor, after being passed and entered by the lord privy seal. By the Great Seal Act 1884 the necessity of passing any instrument under the privy seal was abolished and the Privy Seal Office ceased to exist, warrants for passing instruments under the great seal being thenceforth prepared by the clerk of the Crown in Chancery.

Once the chancellor had approved the docquet, the text of the grant, commission or proclamation as given in the warrant was engrossed by one of the many Chancery clerks, who had divided up the responsibility by subject and by 'ownership' of particular kinds of grant. The clerk of the patents, appointed in 1618, had the responsibility for writing and despatching only those grants, confirmations, charters and letters patent under the great seal which did not belong, or had not already been granted to, any other officer of the court of Chancery.

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