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LORD HIGH CHANCELLOR—LORD HIGH STEWARD

with water before and after the banquet, which was the function of the “ewry,” a distinct office held by the earls of Oxford. At the actual Coronation ceremony he takes an active part in investing the king with the royal insignia.

See J. H. Round, “The Lord Great-Chamberlain" (Monthly Review, June 1902) and “Notes on the Lord Great Chamberlain Case ” (Ancestor, No. IV.). (J. H. R.)


LORD HIGH CHANCELLOR, one of the great officers of state of the United Kingdom, and in England the highest judicial functionary. The history of the office and of the growth of the importance of the lord chancellor will be found under CHANCELLOR. The lord chancellor is in official rank the highest civil subject in the land outside the royal family and takes precedence immediately after the archbishop of Canterbury. His functions have sometimes been exercised by a lord keeper of the great seal (see LORD KEEPER), the only real difference between the two offices being in the appointment of the keeper by mere delivery of the seal, while a lord chancellor receives letters patent along with it. He is by office a privy councillor, and it has long been the practice to make him a peer and also a cabinet minister. He is by prescription Speaker or prolocutor of the House of Lords, and as such he sits upon the woolsack, which is not strictly within the House. Unlike the Speaker of the House of Commons, the lord chancellor takes part in debates, speaking from his place in the House. He votes from the woolsack instead of going into the division lobby. The only function which he discharges as Speaker practically is putting the question; if two debaters rise together, he has no power to call upon one, nor can he rule upon points of order. Those taking part in debates address, not the lord chancellor, but the whole House, as "My Lords." The lord chancellor always belongs to a political party and is affected by its fluctuations. This has often been denounced as destructive of the independence and calm deliberativeness essential to the purity and efficiency of the bench. In defence, however, of the ministerial connexion of the chancellor, it has been said that, while the other judges should be permanent, the head of the law should stand or fall with the ministry, as the best means of securing his effective responsibility to parliament for the proper use of his extensive powers. The transference of the judicial business of the chancery court to the High Court of Justice removed many of the objections to the fluctuating character of the office. As a great officer of state, the lord chancellor acts for both England and ../Scotland, and in some respects for the United Kingdom, including ../Ireland (where, however, an Irish lord chancellor is at the head of the legal system). By Article XXIV. of the Act of Union (1705) one great seal was appointed to be kept for all public acts, and in this department the lord chancellor's authority extends to the whole of Britain, and thus the commissions of the peace for Scotland as well as England issue from him.[1] As an administrative officer, as a judge and as head of the law, he acts merely for England. His English ministerial functions are thus briefly described by Blackstone: "He became keeper of the king's conscience, visitor, in right of the king, of all hospitals and colleges of the king's foundation, and patron of all the king's livings under the value of twenty marks per annum in the king's books. He is the general guardian of all infants, idiots and lunatics, and has the general super-intendence of all charitable uses in the kingdom." But these duties and jurisdiction by modern statutes have been distributed for the most part among other offices or committed to the judges of the High Court (see CHARITY AND CHARITIES; INFANT; INSANITY). Under the Judicature Act 1873 the lord chancellor is a member of the court of appeal, and, when he sits, its president, and he is also a judge of the High Court of Justice. He is named as president of the chancery division of the latter court. His judicial patronage is very extensive, and he is by usage the adviser of the crown in the appointment of judges [2] of the High Court. He presides over the hearing of appeals in the House of Lords. His proper title is "Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain and Ireland." His salary is ₤10,000 per annum, and he is entitled to a pension of ₤5000 per annum.

AUTHORITIES.— Observations concerning the Office of Lord Chancellor (1651), attributed to Lord Chancellor Ellesmere; Blackstone's Commentaries; Campbell's Lives of the Chancellors; and D. M. Kerly, Historical Sketch of the Equitable Jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery (1890).


LORD HIGH CONSTABLE, in England, the seventh of the great officers of state. His office is now called out of abeyance for coronations alone. The constable was originally the commander of the royal armies and the master of the horse. He was also, in conjunction with the earl marshal, president of the court of chivalry or court of honour. In feudal times martial law was administered in the court of the lord high constable. The constableship was granted as a grand serjeanty with the earldom of Hereford by the empress Maud to Milo of Gloucester, and was carried by his heiress to the Bohuns, earls of Hereford and Essex. Through a coheiress of the Bohuns it descended to the Staffords, dukes of Buckingham; and on the attainder of Edward Stafford, third duke of Buckingham, in the reign of Henry VIII. it became merged in the crown. The Lacys and Verduns were hereditary constables of Ireland from the 12th to the 14th century; and the Hays, earls of Erroll, have been hereditary constables of Scotland from early in the 14th century.


LORD HIGH STEWARD. The Lord High Steward of England, who must not be confused with the Lord Steward, ranks as the first of the great officers of state. Appointments to this office are now made only for special occasions, such as the coronations of a sovereign or the trial of a peer by his peers. The history of the office is noteworthy. The household of the Norman and Angevin kings of England included certain persons of secondary rank, styled dapifers, seneschals or stewards (the prototypes of the lord steward), who were entrusted with domestic and state duties; the former duties were those of purveyors and sewers to the king, the latter were undefined. At coronations, however, and great festivals it became the custom in England and elsewhere to appoint magnates of the first rank to discharge for the occasion the domestic functions of the ordinary officials. In accordance with this custom Henry II. appointed both Robert II., earl of Leicester, and Hugh Bigod, earl of Norfolk, to be his honorary hereditary stewards; and at the Christmas festival of 1186 the successors in title of these two earls, with William, earl of Arundel, who held the similar honorary office of hereditary butler, are described as serving the king at the royal banqueting table. Subsequently the earls of Leicester bought out the rights of the earls of Norfolk for ten knights' fees. The last of these earls of Leicester to inherit the hereditary stewardship was Simon V. de Montfort; how he served as steward at the Coronation of Eleanor, queen of Henry III., is described in the Exchequer Red Book. The office of steward in France, then recently suppressed, had for some time been the highest office of state in that kingdom, and Simon de Montfort appears to have considered that his hereditary stewardship entitled him to high official position in England; and after his victory at Lewes he repeatedly figures as steward of England in official documents under the great seal. After Simon's death at Evesham his forfeited estates were conferred on his son Edmund of Lancaster, who also obtained a grant of the stewardship, but only for life. Edmund was succeeded by Thomas, earl of Lancaster, who received a fresh grant of the stewardship to himself and the heirs of his body from Edward II.; and this earl it was who, during the weak administration of the last mentioned king, first put forward in a celebrated tract the claim of the steward to be the second personage in the realm and supreme judge in parliament, a claim which finds some slight recognition in the preamble to the statute passed against the Despencers in the first year of Edward III.

Earl Thomas was executed for treason, and though his attainder was reversed he left no issue, and was succeeded in the earldom by his brother Henry. The subsequent earls and dukes of Lancaster were all recognized as stewards of England,

  1. The great seal, which exists in duplicate for Irish use, is the great seal of the United Kingdom.
  2. Except the lord chief justice, who is appointed on the nomination of the prime minister.