|Lord Clerk Register|
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom in Scotland
|Appointer||Monarch of the United Kingdom|
The office of Lord Clerk Register is the oldest surviving Great Officer of State in Scotland, with origins in the 13th century. It historically had important functions in relation to the maintenance and care of the public records of Scotland. Today these duties are administered by the Keeper of the National Records of Scotland and the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland.
History of Office
Kingdom of Scotland
The first usage of the office appears in 1288, as Clerk of the Rolls of the Kings Chapel. It later was termed in 1291 as 'Keeper of the Rolls of the Kingdom of Scotland' After the Wars of Independence, a similar office appeared with the title of 'Clerk of the Rolls', which was altered about 1373 to 'Clerk of the Rolls and Register', the 'register' being the record of charters (ie: grants of land or titles of nobility) made under the Great Seal.
While the Clerk of Rolls and Register was originally responsible for the records of Chancery, Parliament and Exchequer, but as the central civil court developed out of the king's council in the fifteenth century, he became responsible for its records too, and from 1483 he was 'Clerk of the Rolls, Register and Council'5. This court later became the Court of Session.
By the fifteenth century, the Clerk Register ranked as an officer of state with a seat in Parliament and the council. By the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries more honorific styles such as 'Lord Register' or 'Lord Clerk Register' came to be adopted when describing the Clerk of Rolls. The Clerk Register remained responsible for the records of Parliament and its committees and commissions, the Exchequer, and the Court of Session (representing the judicial side of the old council). From the later sixteenth century statutory additions were made to his functions as new legal registers were put under his control, the most important being the Register of Sasines in 1617 with the passage of the Registration Act 1617.
By the time of the Union with the Kingdom of England in 1707, the office was known as the 'Clerk of the Registers and Rolls of the council, Session and Exchequer, and of all Commissions, Parliaments and Conventions of Estates'. Since 1488 appointments to the office have been made by the Sovereign by commission under the Great Seal.
Kingdom of Great Britain
The Treaty of Union in 1707 provided for the preservation of public records; and the office was also entrusted the election and management of the sixteen Scottish peers to the House of Lords in the new British parliament, with two Clerks of Session commissioned by him to assist. However without the sitting of a Scottish Parliament of Scottish Privy Council, the Lord Clerk Register's duties fell greatly, remaining only entrusted with the court and other legal records.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, later the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
In 1806, a Royal Warrant established the office of Deputy Clerk Register, effectively reducing the duties of the Lord Clerk Registers to an honorary title. In 1817, the Public Offices (Scotland) Act 1817 (c 64) incorporated the offices of Lord Clerk Register with HM Keeper of the Signet. In 1818, a Royal Commission entrusted the officers of state, including the Lord Clerk Register for the time being, with the custody of the Scottish honours.
In 1854, the Deputy Clerk Register's duties were also extended to the care of the records of births, deaths and marriages under the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act 1854, which established the General Registry Office of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
The Lord Clerk Register (Scotland) Act 1879 provided that the office of Lord Clerk Register would remain as a ceremonial Great Officer of State, with all duties passing to the Deputy Clerk Register. However, the Lord Clerk Register did retain an important function, responsibility for organising the election of peers of Scotland to the House of Lords, until the passage of the Peerage Act 1963.
In 1928, the office of Deputy Clerk Register was abolished by the Reorganisation of Offices (Scotland) Act 1928, becoming the Keeper of the Registers and Records of Scotland. However, it came to be recognised that the keeping of records and the keeping of registers was too cumbersome a task to be entrusted to a single official.
In 1948, the Public Registers and Records (Scotland) Act 1948 provided that the Registers of Scotland and Records of Scotland were to be split into two separate government organisations with two separate officials: (1) the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland and (2) the Keeper of the Records of Scotland. These individuals now run (1) the Registers of Scotland and (2) the National Records of Scotland.
In 1996, the Commissioners of the Regalia were given additional responsibility for the Stone of Destiny, or the Stone of Scone, under another Royal Warrant, when the Stone was moved to Edinburgh. The Scottish Executive announced on 27 April 2007 that the Queen had appointed Lord Mackay of Clashfern to the office of Lord Clerk Register, replacing the Earl of Wemyss and March. The Lord Clerk Register remains a Commissioner for the Regalia and the Keeper of the Signet by virtue of the 1879 Act. As such the office is largely ceremonial. The Lord Clerk Register takes in the order of precedence in Scotland after the First Minister (as Keeper of the Great Seal) and the Lord Justice-General, and before the Lord Advocate and Lord Justice-Clerk
- William, Bishop of St Andrews
- Simon de Quincy
- Nicolas, Clericus to Malcolm IV
- William de Bosch, Hugo, Galfrid, and Gregory, all served Alexander II
- 1253: William Capellanus and Alexander de Carrick
- 1323: Robert de Dunbar
- John Gray, appointed by Robert II
- 1426: John Schives, decretorum director
- 1440: Richard Craig, Vicar of Dundee
- 1442: George Shoriswood, Rector of Culter
- 1449: Sir John Methven
- 1450: John Arouse, Archdeacon of Glasgow
- 1455: Nicol Otterburn
- 1466: Fergus McDowall
- 1471: David Guthrie of that Ilk
- 1473: John Layng, Rector of Newlands, Glasgow
- 1477: Alexander Inglis, afterwards Deacon of Dunkeld
- 1482: Patrick Leith, Canon of Glasgow
- 1482: Alexander Scot, Rector of Wigton
- 1488: William Hepburn, Vicar of Linlithgow
- 1489: Richard Murehead, Deacon of Glasgow
- 1492: John Fraser, Rector of Restalrig
- 1497: Walter Drummond, Deacon of Dunblane
- 1500: Gavin Dunbar, Archdeacon of St Andrews, afterwards Bishop of Aberdeen
- Sir Stephen Lockhart, appointed by James IV
- 1531: Sir James Foulis of Colinton
- 1548: Sir Thomas Marjoribanks of Ratho
- 1554: James MacGill of Nether Rankeillour, Parson of Flisk
- 1565: James Balfour of Pittendreich
- 1567: James MacGill of Nether Rankeillour
- 1577: Alexander Hay, Lord Easter Kennet (d 1594)
- 1594-1612: Sir John Skene of Curriehill
- 1598: James Skeen, conjunct with his father
- 1612: Sir Thomas Hamilton, afterwards 1st Earl of Haddington
- 1612: Sir Alexander Hay of Whitburgh, Lord Newton
- 1616: Sir George Hay of Netherleiffe
- 1622: Sir John Hamilton of Magdalens, brother to the Earl of Haddington
- 1632: Sir John Hay, Lord Barra
- 1641: Sir Alexander Gibson, Lord Durie, younger of Durie
- 1649: Archibald Johnston, Lord Warriston
- 1660: Archibald Primrose, Lord Carrington, of Chester (until 1676)
- c1690: Sir Thomas Burnett, 3rd Baronet of Leys
- 1696-1702: Charles Douglas, 2nd Earl of Selkirk
- November 1702 - June 1704: Sir James Murray, Lord Philiphaugh
- 1704-1705: James Johnston
- April 1705 - July 1708: James Murray, Lord Philiphaugh
- 1708-14: David Boyle, 1st Earl of Glasgow
- 1714: Archibald Campbell, Earl of Ilay, 3rd Duke of Argyll
- 1716: James Graham, 1st Duke of Montrose
- 1716: Alexander Hume-Campbell, 2nd Earl of Marchmont, 2nd Lord Polwarth
- 1733: Charles Douglas, 2nd Earl of Selkirk
- 1739: William Kerr, 3rd Marquess of Lothian
- 1756: Alexander Hume Campbell
- 1760: James Douglas, 14th Earl of Morton
- 1761 Sir Gilbert Elliot, 2nd Baronet
- 1768: Lord Frederick Campbell
- 1816: Archibald Campbell Colquhoun
- 1821: William Dundas
- 1841: James Andrew Broun-Ramsay, 1st Marquess of Dalhousie
- 1862: Sir William Gibson Craig of Riccarton
- 1879: George Frederick Boyle, 6th Earl of Glasgow
- 1890: Douglas Beresford Malise Ronald Graham, 5th Duke of Montrose
- 1926: John Charles Montagu-Douglas-Scott, 7th Duke of Buccleuch, 9th Duke of Queensberry
- 1935: Walter John Francis Erskine, 12th Earl of Mar, 14th Earl of Kellie
- 1944: Sidney Herbert Elphinstone, 16th Baron Elphinstone
- 1956: Walter John Montagu-Douglas-Scott, 8th Duke of Buccleuch, 10th Duke of Queensberry
- 1974: Francis David Charteris, 12th Earl of Wemyss and March
- 2007: James Mackay, Baron Mackay of Clashfern
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- Royal Warrant 1906: National Archives of Scotland C3/24, No 184.
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- "Lord Clerk Register (Scotland) Act 1879: Section 2", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 11 August 1879, 1879 c. 44 (s. 2), retrieved 3 July 2020
- "Lord Clerk Register (Scotland) Act 1879: Section 6", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 11 August 1879, 1879 c. 44 (s. 6), retrieved 3 July 2020
- "Lord Clerk Register (Scotland) Act 1879: Section 4", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 11 August 1879, 1879 c. 44 (s. 4), retrieved 3 July 2020
- Peerage Act 1963 (c 48), s 4.
- "Reorganisation of Offices (Scotland) Act 1928: Section 4", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 3 August 1928, 1928 c. 34 (s. 4), retrieved 3 July 2020
- Report by the Committee of the Scottish Records Advisory Council, July 1943 (National Archives of Scotland HH1/1832)
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- Royal Warrant dated 11 March 1905.
- Scot, Sir John, 1754: 179-181, for lists to 1660
- A. J. Mann, ‘Murray, Sir James, Lord Philiphaugh (1655–1708)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 22 April 2012
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- Blackie, Jane. "Elliot, Sir Gilbert, second baronet, Lord Minto". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/8659. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
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