1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Writers to the Signet

WRITERS TO THE SIGNET, in Scotland, a society of law agents corresponding to solicitors in England. They were originally clerks in the secretary of state's office and prepared the different writings passing the signet; every summons is still signed on its last page by a writer to the signet. By the Titles to Land Consolidation (Scotland) Act 1868, they have the exclusive privilege of preparing all crown writs, charters, precepts, &c., from the sovereign or the prince of Scotland. They have no charter but are usually considered a corporation by long custom; they have office-bearers and are members of the College of Justice. On the Act of Union there was much debate as to whether writers to the signet should be eligible to the Scottish bench. It was finally decided that they should be eligible after ten years' practice. But, with the exception of Hamilton of Pencaitland in 1712, no writer to the signet has ever had a seat on the bench.