Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Chancellor. A chancellor is the principal judicial officer of a sovereign or other important dignitary, or of a diocese.

1. The Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain on delivery into his custody of the Great Seal, becomes ipso facto the highest officer in the State, and takes precedence of every temporal peer. He is by virtue of his office a Privy Councillor and Prolocutor (i.e. Chairman) of the House of Lords by prescription. He appoints for the Crown all the magistrates of the country (the county magistrates being usually nominated by the Lord-Lieutenant of each county). In former times the Lord Chancellor was usually an ecclesiastic, few others being then conversant with writings, and he was keeper of the king's conscience, which title accrued to him as presiding over the Royal Chapel. He is also visitor (in right of the sovereign) of all hospitals and colleges of royal foundation and patron of all crown livings under the value of 20 marks in "the King's Books." At the present time he has 12 canonries and 65 livings in his gift. He is guardian of all infants, idiots, and lunatics, and has the general superintendence of all charitable uses in the kingdom. He was formerly the principal judge of the Court of Chancery and is now president of the Court of Appeal of the High Court, of Justice, and of the Chancery Division of the High Court; all writs of summons (the commencement of actions) being tested by him. He is also President of the House of Lords when sitting as a Law Court (i.e. a Court of Appeal). He must necessarily be a barrister, and has usually served as Attorney or Solicitor-General. He goes out of office with the government of which he is a member. He is, of course, in the Cabinet, and has charge of all legal measures brought forward by them. He also advises the sovereign as to appointment of queen's counsel (or calling "within the bar" as it is termed) of certain barristers from time to time.

2. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was formerly a judge of the Court of Exchequer sitting as a Court of Equity. His judicial functions were, however, put an end to by the Judicature Act (they having before then become practically obsolete). His political functions, which consist, in the special care and superintendence of the revenue, remain. He also changes with the ministry of which he is a member.

3. Chancellor of a Bishop or Diocese. He sits for the Bishop in hearing and deciding ecclesiastical suits, etc. The office usually includes those of official principal and vicar-general.

4. Chancellor of the Duchy and County Palatine of Lancaster is nominally Judge of the Chancery Court of the County Palatine and of the Duchy Chamber Court. His duties, however, are mainly ministerial. The Vice-Chancellor performs the duties of the court.