This series contains correspondence, papers, accounts, etc of the Chief Clerk's Department of the Foreign Office and, from 1965, of the administrative departments of the Diplomatic Service Administration Office. The records concern the accounts and internal affairs of the Foreign Office, the Messengers and the Diplomatic and Consular Services. The records go back beyond 1782 and have been kept as a distinct series from an early date, being retained in the Chief Clerk's department and not transferred annually to the Library as the general correspondence of other Foreign Office departments was.
The most important precedents relating to the Foreign Office establishment and the Messengers were entered in the 'Domestic Entry Books' within this series. These and the other records in the 'Foreign Office' subseries contain much information about the domestic history of the Foreign Office and the careers of its clerks.
The series includes registers of correspondence, which are subdivided from 1870 under the headings Diplomatic Service, Consular Service, Treasury, Audit Office (to 1896), Miscellaneous (other government departments, institutions and individuals and Messengers) and Free Deliveries (1878-1890). Their arrangement corresponds only loosely with the arrangement into volumes of the papers to which they relate, making them an imperfect means of reference. They do not record all the papers which passed through the Department, as many were sent from other departments, where they had already been registered, while drafts prepared in the Department might be written out for despatch and registered elsewhere. In almost any volume of General Correspondence of this period will be found a substantial number of papers stamped 'Seen by the Chief Clerk'.