HOME

TheInfoList




The Lord Chancellor, formally the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, is the highest-ranking among the
Great Officers of State In the United Kingdom, the Great Officers of State are traditional ministers of The Crown who either inherit their positions or are appointed to exercise certain largely ceremonial functions or to operate as members of the government. This cite ...
in
England England is a that is part of the . It shares land borders with to its west and to its north. The lies northwest of England and the to the southwest. England is separated from by the to the east and the to the south. The country cover ...

England
in the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
, nominally outranking the
prime minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpa ...
. The lord chancellor is appointed by the
sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descende ...
on the advice of the prime minister. Prior to their Union into the
Kingdom of Great Britain The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called Great Britain,"After the political union of England and Scotland in 1707, the nation's official name became 'Great Britain'", ''The American Pageant, Volume 1'', Cengage Learning (2012) was a s ...

Kingdom of Great Britain
, there were separate lord chancellors for the
Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or ...

Kingdom of England
(including the
Principality of Wales The Principality of Wales ( cy, Tywysogaeth Cymru) existed between 1216 and 1536, encompassing two-thirds of modern Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It i ...

Principality of Wales
) and the
Kingdom of Scotland The Kingdom of Scotland ( gd, Rìoghachd na h-Alba; sco, Kinrick o Scotland) was a sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. Inte ...
; there were
lord chancellors of Ireland Lord is an appellation for a person or deity who has authority, control, or power (social and political), power over others, acting as a master, a chief, or a ruler. The appellation can also denote certain persons who hold a title of the Peerag ...
until 1922. The lord chancellor is a member of the
Cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transparent glass sheets or transparent polycarbonate sheets * Filing ...
and, by law, is responsible for the efficient functioning and independence of the courts. In 2005, there were a number of changes to the legal system and to the office of the lord chancellor. Formerly, the lord chancellor was also the presiding officer of the
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
, the head of the judiciary in England and Wales and the presiding judge of the
Chancery Division The High Court of Justice in London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The city stands on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at t ...
of the
High Court of Justice The High Court of Justice in London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The city stands on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at th ...
, but the
Constitutional Reform Act 2005 The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (c 4) is an Act of Parliament, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, relevant to UK constitutional law. It provides for a Supreme Court of the United Kingdom to take over the previous appellate jurisdictio ...
transferred these roles to the
Lord Speaker The Lord Speaker is the speaker (politics), presiding officer, chairman and highest authority of the House of Lords in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The office is analogous to the Speaker of the House of Commons (United Kingdom), Speaker of ...
, the
lord chief justice The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales is the Head of the Judiciary of England and Wales There are various levels of judiciary in England and Wales — different types of courts have different styles of judges. They also form a strict ...
and the
Chancellor of the High Court The Chancellor of the High Court is the head of the Chancery Division The High Court of Justice in London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. ...
respectively. The current lord chancellor, as of September 2021, is
Dominic Raab Dominic Rennie Raab (born 25 February 1974) is a British politician serving as Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The Deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom (DPM) is a senior minister of the Crown Minister of the Crown is a ...
, who is also the
Secretary of State for Justice The Secretary of State for Justice, also referred to as the Justice Secretary, is a senior Minister of the Crown Minister of the Crown is a formal constitutional term used in Commonwealth realms to describe a minister of the reigning sover ...
. One of the lord chancellor's responsibilities is to act as the custodian of the
Great Seal of the Realm The Great Seal of the Realm or Great Seal of the United Kingdom (known prior to the Treaty of Union of 1707 as the Great Seal of England; and from then until the Union of 1801 as the Great Seal of Great Britain) is a seal Seal may refer to ...
, kept historically in the Lord Chancellor's Purse. A
lord keeper of the Great Seal File:Toilet Service at Weston Park, Staffs DSCF1061 10.jpg, Ceremonial purse at Weston Park, used by Sir Orlando as Lord Keeper and shown in his portrait above The Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, and later of Great Britain, was formerly a ...
may be appointed instead of a lord chancellor. The two offices entail exactly the same duties; the only distinction is in the mode of appointment. Furthermore, the office of lord chancellor may be exercised by a committee of individuals known as lords commissioners of the Great Seal, usually when there is a delay between an outgoing chancellor and their replacement. The office is then said to be "in commission". Since the 19th century, however, only lord chancellors have been appointed, the other offices having fallen into disuse.


History

The office of lord chancellor may trace its origins to the
Carolingian The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the Carlovingians, Carolingus, Carolings, Karolinger or Karlings) was a Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historic ...
monarchy, in which a chancellor acted as the keeper of the royal seal. In England, the office dates at least as far back as the
Norman Conquest The Norman Conquest (or the Conquest) was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England by an army made up of thousands of Normans, Duchy of Brittany, Bretons, County of Flanders, Flemish, and men from other Kingdom of France, French ...
(1066), and possibly earlier. Some give the first chancellor of England as Angmendus, in 605. Other sources suggest that the first to appoint a chancellor was
Edward the Confessor Edward the Confessor ( ang, Ēadƿeard Andettere ; la, Eduardus Confessor , ; 1003 – 5 January 1066) was one of the last Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the so ...

Edward the Confessor
, who is said to have adopted the practice of sealing documents instead of personally signing them. A clerk of Edward's,
Regenbald Regenbald (sometimes known as Regenbald of Cirencester) was a priest and royal official in Anglo-Saxon England under King Edward the Confessor. His name suggests that he was not a native Englishman, and perhaps was German or Norman. He first appea ...
, was named "chancellor" in some documents from Edward's reign. In any event, the office has been continuously occupied since the Norman Conquest. The staff of the growing office became separate from the king's household under
Henry IIIHenry III may refer to: * Henry III, Duke of Bavaria (940–989) * Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor (1017–1056) * Henry III, Count of Louvain (died 1095) * Henry III, Count of Luxembourg (died 1096) * Henry III, Duke of Carinthia (1050–1122) * Henr ...

Henry III
and in the 14th century located in
Chancery Lane Chancery Lane is a one-way street situated in the Wards of the City of London, ward of Farringdon Without in the City of London. It has formed the western boundary of the City since 1994, having previously been divided between the City of West ...
. The chancellor headed the writing office or
chancery Chancery may refer to: * Chancery (diplomacy), the building that houses a diplomatic mission, such as an embassy * Chancery (medieval office), a medieval writing office * Chancery (Scotland) (also called The office of Director of Chancery, or Chan ...
. Formerly, the lord chancellor was almost always a member of the clergy, as during the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
the clergy were amongst the few literate men of the realm. The lord chancellor performed multiple functions—he was the Keeper of the Great Seal, the chief royal chaplain, and adviser in both spiritual and temporal matters. Thus, the position emerged as one of the most important ones in government. He was only outranked in government by the
Justiciar Justiciar is the English form of the medieval Latin term ''justiciarius'' or ''justitiarius'' ("man of justice", i.e. judge). During the Middle Ages in England, the Chief Justiciar (later known simply as the Justiciar) was roughly equivalent ...
(now obsolete). As one of the King's ministers, the lord chancellor attended the ''
curia regis ''Curia regis'' () is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or " ...
'' or Royal Court. If a bishop, the lord chancellor received a writ of summons; if an ecclesiastic of a lower degree or, if a layman, he attended without any summons. The ''curia regis'' would later evolve into
Parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of ...
, the lord chancellor becoming the
prolocutorA prolocutor is a chairman of some ecclesiastical assemblies in Anglicanism. Usage in the Church of England In the Church of England, the Prolocutor is chair of the lower house of the Convocations of Canterbury and York, the House of Clergy. The Pr ...
of its upper house, the House of Lords. As was confirmed by a
statute A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) ...

statute
passed during the reign of
Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England from 22 April 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry is best known for Wives of Henry VIII, his six marriages, including his efforts to have his first marriage (to Catherine of Aragon ...

Henry VIII
, a lord chancellor could preside over the House of Lords even if not a lord himself. The lord chancellor's judicial duties also evolved through his role in the ''curia regis''. Petitions for justice were normally addressed to the king and the ''curia'', but in 1280,
Edward I Edward I (17/18 June 1239 – 7 July 1307), also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots ( la, Malleus Scotorum), was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England ...

Edward I
instructed his justices to examine and deal with petitions themselves as the
Court of King's Bench The Court of King's Bench, formally known as The Court of the King Before the King Himself, was a court of common law in the English legal system. Created in the late 12th to early 13th century from the '' curia regis'', the King's Bench initi ...
. Important petitions were to be sent to the lord chancellor for his decision; the more significant of these were also to be brought to the king's attention. By the reign of
Edward III Edward III (13 November 1312 – 21 June 1377), also known as Edward of Windsor before his accession, was King of England and Lord of Ireland from January 1327 until his death in 1377. He is noted for his military success and for restoring roy ...

Edward III
, this chancellery function developed into a separate tribunal for the lord chancellor. In this body, which became known as the
High Court of Chancery High may refer to: People with the name * High (surname) Science, technology and economics * Height * High (atmospheric), a high-pressure area * High (computability), a quality of a Turing degree, in computability theory * High (technical analy ...
, the lord chancellor would determine cases according to fairness (or "
equity Equity may refer to: Finance, accounting and ownership *Equity (finance), ownership of assets that have liabilities attached to them ** Stock, equity based on original contributions of cash or other value to a business ** Home equity, the differe ...
") instead of according to the strict principles of
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority ...
. The lord chancellor also became known as the "
keeper of the king's conscience Keeper may refer to: People * Keeper (surname) * Archivist * Beekeeper * Gamekeeper * Gatekeeper * Greenkeeper * Keeper of the Privy Purse * Keeper of the Royal Archives * Legal guardian * Lighthouse keeper * Museum curator * Prison warden * Regi ...
". Churchmen continued to dominate the chancellorship until the 16th century. In 1529, after
Cardinal Cardinal or The Cardinal may refer to: Christianity * Cardinal (Catholic Church), a senior official of the Catholic Church * Cardinal (Church of England), two members of the College of Minor Canons of St. Paul's Cathedral Navigation * Cardina ...
Thomas Wolsey Thomas Wolsey (c. March 1473 – 29 November 1530) was an English statesman and Catholic bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a positi ...
, who was lord chancellor and
archbishop of York The Archbishop of York is a senior bishop in the Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is a List of Christian denominations, Christian church which is the established church of England. The archbishop of Canterbury is the most ...
, was dismissed for failing to procure the annulment of Henry VIII's marriage to
Catherine of Aragon Catherine of Aragon (; 16 December 1485 – 7 January 1536) was Queen of England as the first wife of King Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom o ...

Catherine of Aragon
, laymen tended to be more favoured for appointment to the office. Ecclesiastics made a brief return during the reign of
Mary I Mary I (18 February 1516 – 17 November 1558), also known as Mary Tudor, and as "Bloody Mary" by her Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to ...
, but thereafter, almost all lord chancellors have been laymen.
Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury Privy Council of England, PC (22 July 1621 – 21 January 1683), known as Anthony Ashley Cooper from 1621 to 1630, as Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, 2nd Baronet from 1630 to 1661, and as The Lord ...
(1672–73) was the last lord chancellor who was not a lawyer, until the appointment of
Chris Grayling Christopher Stephen Grayling (born 1 April 1962) is a British Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Party politician and author who served as Secretary of State for Transport from 2016 to 2019. He has served as Member of Parliament (United Kingd ...
in 2012. The three subsequent holders of the position,
Michael Gove Michael Andrew Gove (; born Graeme Andrew Logan; 26 August 1967) is a British politician, journalist and author serving as Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Minister for Intergovernmental Relations since 2021. He ...

Michael Gove
(2015–16),
Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Mary Truss (born 26 July 1975) is a British politician who has served as Foreign Secretary since 2021 and Minister for Women and Equalities since 2019. A member of the Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Party, Truss has served in v ...
(2016–2017) and David Lidington (2017–2018) are also not lawyers. However, the appointment of
David Gauke David Michael Gauke (; born 8 October 1971) is a British former politician A politician is a person active in party politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other form ...

David Gauke
in January 2018 meant that once again the lord chancellor was a lawyer. At the Union of England and Scotland, the
lord keeper of the Great Seal File:Toilet Service at Weston Park, Staffs DSCF1061 10.jpg, Ceremonial purse at Weston Park, used by Sir Orlando as Lord Keeper and shown in his portrait above The Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, and later of Great Britain, was formerly a ...
of England became the first lord high chancellor of Great Britain, but Lord Seafield continued as
lord chancellor of Scotland The Lord Chancellor of Scotland was a Great Officer of State In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegr ...
until 1708; was re-appointed in 1713; and sat as an extraordinary lord of session in that capacity until his death in 1730, since which time the office of lord chancellor of Scotland has been in abeyance.


The office

Formerly, when the office was held by ecclesiastics, a "Keeper of the Great Seal" acted in the Lord Chancellor's absence. Keepers were also appointed when the office of Lord Chancellor fell vacant, and discharged the duties of the office until an appropriate replacement could be found. When
Elizabeth I Elizabeth I (7 September 153324 March 1603) was Queen of England and Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;"title="Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain">Ireland_(left)_an ...

Elizabeth I
became queen, Parliament passed an Act providing that a
Lord Keeper of the Great Seal File:Toilet Service at Weston Park, Staffs DSCF1061 10.jpg, Ceremonial purse at Weston Park, used by Sir Orlando as Lord Keeper and shown in his portrait above The Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, and later of Great Britain, was formerly a ...
would be entitled to "like place, pre-eminence, jurisdiction, execution of laws, and all other customs, commodities, and advantages" as a Lord Chancellor. The only difference between the two offices is the mode of appointment—a Lord Chancellor is appointed by formal
letters patent Letters patent ( la, litterae patentes) ( always in the plural) are a type of legal instrument ''Legal instrument'' is a legal Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act acco ...
, but a Lord Keeper is appointed by the delivery of the Great Seal into their custody. Formerly, it was customary to appoint commoners to the office of Lord Keeper, and peers to the office of Lord Chancellor. A Lord Keeper who acquired a peerage dignity would subsequently be appointed Lord Chancellor. The last Lord Keeper was Robert Henley, who was created a Baron in 1760 and was appointed Lord Chancellor in 1761. Since then, commoners as well as peers have been appointed to the post of Lord Chancellor; however, until the 21st-century changes to the office, a commoner would normally have been created a peer shortly after appointment. It is also possible to put the office of Lord Chancellor into commission (that is to say, to entrust the office to a group of individuals rather than a single person). The individuals who exercise the office become known as "Lords Commissioners of the Great Seal." Lords Commissioners of the Great Seal have not been appointed since 1850. Formerly, there were separate Chancellors of England, Scotland and Ireland. When the
Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or ...

Kingdom of England
and the
Kingdom of Scotland The Kingdom of Scotland ( gd, Rìoghachd na h-Alba; sco, Kinrick o Scotland) was a sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. Inte ...
united to form the
Kingdom of Great Britain The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called Great Britain,"After the political union of England and Scotland in 1707, the nation's official name became 'Great Britain'", ''The American Pageant, Volume 1'', Cengage Learning (2012) was a s ...

Kingdom of Great Britain
under the
Act of Union 1707 The Acts of Union ( gd, Achd an Aonaidh) were two Act of Parliament, Acts of Parliament: the Union with Scotland Act 1706 passed by the Parliament of England, and the Union with England Act passed in 1707 by the Parliament of Scotland. They put ...
the offices of the Chancellor of England and the
Lord Chancellor of Scotland The Lord Chancellor of Scotland was a Great Officer of State In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegr ...
were combined to form a single office of Lord Chancellor for the new
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
. Similar provision was not made when Great Britain and Ireland merged into the United Kingdom under the
Act of Union 1800 The Acts of Union 1800 (sometimes referred to as a single Act of Union 1801) were parallel acts of the Parliament of Great Britain The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in May 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of UnionAct ...
. Thus, the separate office of
Lord Chancellor of Ireland The office of Lord High Chancellor of Ireland (commonly known as Lord Chancellor of Ireland) was the highest judicial office in Ireland until the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922. From 1721 to 1801, it was also the highest political o ...
continued to exist until the formation of the
Irish Free State The Irish Free State ( ga, Saorstát Éireann, , ; 6 December 192229 December 1937) was a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of St ...
in 1922. The office of Lord Chancellor of Ireland was abolished, and its duties transferred to the
Governor of Northern Ireland The governor of Northern Ireland was the principal officer and representative in Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label= Ulster-Scots, Norlin Airlann) is a part of the United Kingdom The United Ki ...
, and later the
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland The secretary of state for Northern Ireland (; ), also referred to as the Northern Ireland secretary or SoSNI, is a secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom The Government of the United Kingdom, domestically referred ...
. Thus, the Lord Chancellor remains "Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain", and not "Lord High Chancellor of the United Kingdom."


Functions


Legislative functions

The Lord Chancellor used to be the presiding officer of the House of Lords by right of prescription. The
Constitutional Reform Act 2005 The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (c 4) is an Act of Parliament, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, relevant to UK constitutional law. It provides for a Supreme Court of the United Kingdom to take over the previous appellate jurisdictio ...
removed this function, leaving the choice of a presiding officer to the House of Lords itself. Ultimately, the Lords chose to elect a
Lord Speaker The Lord Speaker is the speaker (politics), presiding officer, chairman and highest authority of the House of Lords in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The office is analogous to the Speaker of the House of Commons (United Kingdom), Speaker of ...
, which title was already used in the Standing Orders. Whenever the Sovereign appoints
Lords Commissioners The Lords Commissioners are Privy Council of the United Kingdom, Privy Counsellors appointed by the Monarch of the United Kingdom to exercise, on his or her behalf, certain functions relating to Parliament of the United Kingdom, Parliament whic ...
to perform certain actions on his or her behalf (for example, to formally declare in Parliament that the Royal Assent has been granted, or to prorogue or dissolve Parliament), the Lord Chancellor usually serves as the principal or senior Lord Commissioner. The other Lords Commissioners, by convention, are members of the House of Lords who are
Privy Counsellors The Privy Council of the United Kingdom is a privy council, formal body of advisers to the British monarchy, sovereign of the United Kingdom. Its membership mainly comprises Politics of the United Kingdom, senior politicians who are current o ...
(generally the leaders of the three main parties and the Convenor of the Crossbenches). In this role the Lord Chancellor wears Parliamentary Robes—a full-length scarlet wool gown decorated with
miniver :''For the fictional character, see Mrs. Miniver''. Miniver, an unspotted white fur edged with grey, derives from the winter coat of the Northern red squirrel. Miniver differs from ermine fur in that it does not include the distinctive black ta ...
fur. The Lord Chancellor wears a
tricorne The tricorne or tricorn is a style of hat that was popular during the 18th century, falling out of style by 1800, though actually not called a "tricorne" until the mid-19th century. During the 18th century, hats of this general style were referre ...

tricorne
hat, but the other Lords Commissioners wear
bicorne The bicorne or bicorn (two-cornered/horned or twihorn) is a historical form of hat widely adopted in the 1790s as an item of uniform by Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, ...
hats. During the period that
Jack Straw John Whitaker Straw (born 3 August 1946) is a British politician who served as the Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament (MP) for Blackburn (UK Parliament constituency), Blackburn from 1979 United Kingdom general election, ...

Jack Straw
, an MP, was Lord Chancellor, he was officially named as one of the Lords Commissioners, but did not take part in the formal ceremonies of granting Royal Assent and proroguing Parliament. The Lord Speaker has been appointed a Lord Commissioner and does take part in the ceremonies. The role of principal Lord Commissioner during this period has been taken by the
Leader of the House of Lords The Leader of the House of Lords is a member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom The Cabinet of the United Kingdom is a group of the most senior ministers of the crown in the government of the United Kingdom. A committee of the Privy C ...
. There is an exception: when John Bercow was presented for Royal Approbation for the office of Speaker of the House of Commons in 2009, and again when Bercow's successor Sir Lindsay Hoyle was presented for Approbation in 2019, the Lord Chancellor (Straw and Buckland, respectively) were the principal Lord Commissioner, and the Lord Speaker was not in the commission. This precedent has continued since then. It is unclear how these arrangements would change if a future Lord Chancellor were appointed from the House of Lords.


Executive functions

The Lord Chancellor is a member of the
Privy Council A privy council is a body that advises the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 "he head of state He or HE may refer to: ...
and of the
Cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transparent glass sheets or transparent polycarbonate sheets * Filing ...
. The office the Lord Chancellor heads was known as the ''Lord Chancellor's Office'' between 1885 and 1971 and the
Lord Chancellor's Department The Lord Chancellor's Department was a United Kingdom government department answerable to the Lord Chancellor with jurisdiction over England and Wales. Created in 1885 as the Lord Chancellor's Office with a small staff to assist the Lord Chancell ...
between 1971 and 2003. In 2003 the department was renamed the
Department for Constitutional Affairs The Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) was a United Kingdom government department The departments of the Government of the United Kingdom are the principal units through which it exercises executive authority; a few of them are titled M ...
and the Lord Chancellor was appointed
Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs The office of Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs was a British Government position, created in 2003. Certain functions of the Lord Chancellor The Lord Chancellor, formally the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, is the highest-r ...
. In 2007 this post was renamed
Secretary of State for Justice The Secretary of State for Justice, also referred to as the Justice Secretary, is a senior Minister of the Crown Minister of the Crown is a formal constitutional term used in Commonwealth realms to describe a minister of the reigning sover ...
and the department became the
Ministry of Justice A Ministry of Justice is a common type of government department that serves as a justice ministry. Lists of current ministries of justice Named "Ministry" * Ministry of Justice (Abkhazia) * Ministry of Justice (Afghanistan) * Ministry of Justic ...
. The department headed by the Lord Chancellor has many responsibilities, such as the administration of the courts. Furthermore, the Lord Chancellor has a role in appointing many judges in the
courts of England and Wales The courts of England and Wales, supported administratively by Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service, are the Civil law (common law), civil and Criminal law, criminal courts responsible for the administration of justice in England and Wales. ...
. Senior judges (
Justices A judge is a person who presides over court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administrati ...
of the
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom The Supreme Court (initialism An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical ...
,
Lords Justices of Appeal A Lord Justice of Appeal or Lady Justice of Appeal is a judge of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales The Court of Appeal (formally "Her Majesty's Court of Appeal in England", commonly cited as "CA", "EWCA" or "CoA") is the highest ...
and the Heads of the Divisions of the
High Court High court usually refers to the superior court In common law systems, a superior court is a court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between ...
) are officially appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the Lord Chancellor, but since 2005 the Lord Chancellor has been advised by an independent
Judicial Appointments Commission The Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) is an independent commission that selects candidates for judicial office in courts and tribunals in England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the f ...
and can only choose whether to accept or reject its recommendations. Similarly the Lord Chancellor no longer determines which
barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney at law, barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer in common law jurisdiction (area), jurisdictions. Barristers mostly specialis ...

barrister
s are to be raised to the rank of
Queen's Counsel In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some pr ...
but merely supervises the process of selection by an independent panel. Custody of the
Great Seal of the Realm The Great Seal of the Realm or Great Seal of the United Kingdom (known prior to the Treaty of Union of 1707 as the Great Seal of England; and from then until the Union of 1801 as the Great Seal of Great Britain) is a seal Seal may refer to ...
is entrusted to the Lord Chancellor. Documents to which the Great Seal is affixed include letters patent,
writ In common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institu ...

writ
s and royal proclamations. The sealing is actually performed under the supervision of the
Clerk of the Crown in Chancery The Clerk of the Crown in Chancery in Great Britain is a senior civil servant who is the head of the Crown Office. The Crown Office, a section of the Ministry of Justice (United Kingdom), Ministry of Justice, has custody of the Great Seal of the ...
(who holds the additional office of
Permanent Secretary
Permanent Secretary
to the Lord Chancellor). The Lord Chancellor does not maintain custody of the
Great Seal of Scotland The Great Seal of Scotland ( gd, Seala Mòr na h-Alba) is a principal national symbol of Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to ...
(which is kept by the
First Minister of Scotland The first minister of Scotland ( sco, heid meinister o Scotland; gd, prìomh mhinistear na h-Alba ) is the leader of the Scottish Government The Scottish Government ( gd, Riaghaltas na h-Alba, ) is the ...
) or of the
Great Seal of Northern Ireland The Great Seal of Northern Ireland is the Seal (emblem), seal used for Northern Ireland. The great seal is in the possession of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. The Great Seal was created by the Irish Free State (Consequential Provisions ...
(which is kept by the
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland The secretary of state for Northern Ireland (; ), also referred to as the Northern Ireland secretary or SoSNI, is a secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom The Government of the United Kingdom, domestically referred ...
).


Former judicial functions

The judicial functions of the Lord Chancellor (as opposed to his role in the administration of the court system) were removed by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. Formerly, the Lord Chancellor performed several different judicial roles. He sat as a judge in the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords (the highest domestic Court in the United Kingdom), and was a member of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (the senior tribunal of the British Empire (except for the United Kingdom) and, latterly, parts of the Commonwealth). He was the President of the Courts of England and Wales, Supreme Court of England and Wales, and therefore supervised the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, the High Court of Justice of England and Wales and the Crown Court of England and Wales. He was also, ''ex officio'', a judge in the Court of Appeal and the President of the Chancery Division. In modern times, these judicial functions were exercised very sparingly. The functions in relation to the House of Lords and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council were usually delegated to the Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary. The task of presiding over the Chancery Division was delegated to the Vice-Chancellor, a senior judge (now known as the
Chancellor of the High Court The Chancellor of the High Court is the head of the Chancery Division The High Court of Justice in London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. ...
). Most Lord Chancellors by the end of the twentieth century gave judgments only in cases reaching the House of Lords. The last Lord Chancellor to preside as a judge was Lord Irvine of Lairg (in office 1997–2003), who did so as a member of the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords. However, concerns were already being expressed, including by the judiciary, at the propriety of a cabinet minister sitting as a professional judge, and his successor, Lord Falconer, never performed such a role, even before his right to do so was abolished. Formerly, when peers Privilege of peerage, had the right to be tried for felonies or for high treason by other peers in the House of Lords (instead of commoners on trial by jury, juries), the Lord High Steward, instead of the Lord Chancellor, would preside. This also occurred in impeachment trials. The office of Lord High Steward has generally remained vacant since 1421. Whenever a peer was to be tried in the House of Lords, a Lord High Steward would be appointed ''pro hac vice'' [for this occasion]. In many cases, the Lord Chancellor would merely be elevated to the office of Lord High Steward temporarily. Trials of peers in the House of Lords were abolished in 1948, and impeachment is considered obsolete, so this is unlikely to occur again. At the beginning of the legal year, the Lord Chancellor officiates at a ceremony in Westminster Abbey in front of all the judges. The ceremony is followed by a reception known as the Lord Chancellor's breakfast which is held in Westminster Hall.


Ecclesiastical functions

Lord Chancellors perform various functions relating to the established Church of England. They appoint clergy in such of the ecclesiastical livings under the patronage of the Crown as are officially listed as being worth less than £20 ''per annum''. Furthermore, they exercise the same prerogative in regard to the less valuable livings in the Duke of Cornwall, Duchy of Cornwall when there is no Duke of Cornwall, or when the Duke of Cornwall is a minor. (The heir-apparent to the Crown, if he is the Sovereign's eldest son, is automatically Duke of Cornwall.) Finally, the Lord Chancellor is in some cases the patron of an ecclesiastical living in his own right. In total, the Lord Chancellor appoints clergymen in over four hundred parishes and twelve cathedral canon (priest), canonries. By law, the Lord Chancellor must be consulted before appointments may be made to certain ecclesiastical courts. Judges of Consistory Courts, the Arches Court of Canterbury, the Chancery Court of York and the Court of Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved are appointed only after consultation with the Lord Chancellor. The Lord Chancellor is, ''ex officio'', one of the thirty-three Church Commissioners, who manage the assets of the Church of England. Formerly, Roman Catholics were thought to be ineligible for the office of Lord Chancellor, as the office entailed functions relating to the Church of England. Most legal restrictions on Roman Catholics were lifted by the Catholic Emancipation, Catholic Relief Act 1829, which, however, provides: "nothing herein contained shall [...] enable any Person, otherwise than as he is now by Law enabled, to hold or enjoy the Office of Lord High Chancellor, Lord Keeper or Lord Commissioner of the Great Seal". The words "as he is now by Law enabled", however, caused considerable doubt, as it was unclear if Roman Catholics were disqualified from holding the office in the first place. For the removal of all doubt, Parliament passed the Lord Chancellor (Tenure of Office and Discharge of Ecclesiastical Functions) Act 1974, declaring that there was never any impediment to the appointment of a Roman Catholic. The Act nevertheless provides that, if a Roman Catholic were to be appointed to the office, then the Sovereign may temporarily transfer the Lord Chancellor's ecclesiastical functions to the Prime Minister or another minister.


Other functions

Under the Regency Acts#Regency Act 1937, Regency Act 1937, the Lord Chancellor is one of the five persons who participate in determining the capacity of the Sovereign to discharge his or her functions—the other individuals so empowered are the Sovereign's spouse, the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales and the Master of the Rolls. If any three or more of these individuals, based on evidence that, as required by statute, shall include evidence provided by physicians, determine and declare by an instrument in writing, lodged with the Privy Council, that the Sovereign suffers from a mental or physical infirmity that prevents him or her from personally discharging the duties of Head of State, the royal functions are transferred to a Regent, who discharges them in the name and on behalf of the monarch. The Lord Chancellor is also the Keeper of the Queen's Conscience. As such, the Lord Chancellor was once also the chief judge of the Court of Chancery in London, dispensing equity to soften the harshness of the law. The Lord Chancellor acts as the visitor of many universities, colleges, schools, hospitals and other charitable organisations throughout the United Kingdom. When the rules of the organisation do not designate a visitor or, when a vacancy in the office arises, the Sovereign serves as visitor, but delegates the functions to the Lord Chancellor. Furthermore, some organisations explicitly provide that the Lord Chancellor is to act as visitor; these bodies include St. George's Chapel, Windsor, the Royal Institution, Newcastle University and three colleges of the University of Oxford (namely St Antony's College, Oxford, St. Antony's College, Worcester College, Oxford, Worcester College, and University College, Oxford, University College). The power to appoint members of certain organisations is vested in the Lord Chancellor. These organisations include the governing bodies of Harrow School, Rugby School and Charterhouse School.


Precedence and privileges

The lord high chancellor outranks all other great officers of state with the exception of the lord high steward, which has generally been vacant since the 15th century. Under modern conventions, the office of lord high steward is only filled on the day of a new monarch's coronation; thus, at all other times, the lord chancellor remains the highest ranking great officer. The importance of the office is reflected by the Treason Act 1351, which makes it high treason to slay the lord chancellor. A lord high treasurer would be entitled to the same protection—but the office is now held in commission—as would a judge whilst actually in court, determining a case. The lord chancellor's position in the modern Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom, order of precedence is an extremely high one; generally being outranked only by the British Royal Family, royal family and high ecclesiastics. In England, the lord chancellor precedes all non-royal individuals except the archbishop of Canterbury. In Scotland, they precede all non-royal individuals except the lord high commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Although lord chancellor "of Great Britain", they maintain a position in the order of precedence in Northern Ireland; there, they outrank all non-royal individuals with the exception of the Anglican and Roman Catholic Primate of All Ireland, archbishops of Armagh, the Anglican and Roman Catholic Primate of Ireland, archbishops of Dublin and the moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. Throughout the United Kingdom, the lord chancellor technically outranks the prime minister, although the latter generally possesses more power. The precedence of a lord keeper of the Great Seal is equivalent to that of a lord chancellor. The precedence of lords commissioners of the Great Seal is much lower (see United Kingdom order of precedence). The lord chancellor is entitled to an annual emolument of £227,736 and to an annual pension of £106,868. The lord chancellor's salary is higher than that of any other public official, including even the prime minister, although sometimes the officeholder may voluntarily decide to receive a reduced salary (recent holders have taken the salary of a secretary of state).


Official dress

The lord chancellor, on formal state occasions such as the State Opening of Parliament, wears legal court dress consisting of a black silk velvet cutaway tailcoat with cloth covered buttons, waistcoat and breeches worn with white shirt, lace stock and cuffs, black silk stockings and cut-steel buckled patent court shoes. Over this is worn a black silk damask robe of state with a long train trimmed with gold lace and frogging, with a black silk 'wig bag' attached to the flap collar at the back. A full-bottomed wig is worn and, in the past, a black tricorne hat. When the lord chancellor sat in the Lords, they wore an undress version of court dress, consisting of the court dress but made of black superfine cloth rather than silk velvet, and over that a black silk robe with a train with the wig bag attached. The wig and tricorne was also worn. Now that the lord chancellor is appointed from the Commons rather than the Lords, they wear a normal business suit and only wear full ceremonial dress for state occasions. There is an unofficial precedent that lord chancellors that do not have a legal background do not get to wear a wig.
Jack Straw John Whitaker Straw (born 3 August 1946) is a British politician who served as the Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament (MP) for Blackburn (UK Parliament constituency), Blackburn from 1979 United Kingdom general election, ...

Jack Straw
(a qualified barrister) initially did not wear one but did so afterwards, as did his immediate successor, Kenneth Clarke (a barrister and
Queen's Counsel In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some pr ...
);
Chris Grayling Christopher Stephen Grayling (born 1 April 1962) is a British Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Party politician and author who served as Secretary of State for Transport from 2016 to 2019. He has served as Member of Parliament (United Kingd ...
,
Michael Gove Michael Andrew Gove (; born Graeme Andrew Logan; 26 August 1967) is a British politician, journalist and author serving as Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Minister for Intergovernmental Relations since 2021. He ...

Michael Gove
, and Liz Truss (none of whom have legal backgrounds) have not done so. Robert Buckland, Robert Buckland QC MP, continued the tradition of wearing the full court dress along with the full bottomed wig, as he is a
barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney at law, barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer in common law jurisdiction (area), jurisdictions. Barristers mostly specialis ...

barrister
. In 2019 at the Approbation of the new speaker of the Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, he wore full court dress along with the full bottomed wig and a
tricorne The tricorne or tricorn is a style of hat that was popular during the 18th century, falling out of style by 1800, though actually not called a "tricorne" until the mid-19th century. During the 18th century, hats of this general style were referre ...

tricorne
.


Insignia

The historic insignia of the lord chancellor is a purse containing the Great Seal and a Ceremonial mace, mace or staff of office. The Elizabethan play Sir Thomas More (play), Sir Thomas More opens Scene II as follows: ''"Chelsea. A Room in More's House. A table being covered with a green carpet, a state cushion on it, and the Purse and Mace lying thereon, enter Sir Thomas More"''.


Reform

In the early 21st century, the New Labour government viewed it as untenable that all three political functions (executive, legislative and judicial) should be continued in the historical office of Lord Chancellor. In the Government's view, this infringed Montesquieu's principle of separation of powers which declared that no person should have access to all of the three political functions. The lord chancellor could exercise all three powers, and some, such as Quintin Hogg, Baron Hailsham of St Marylebone, Quintin, Lord Hailsham, often did so. The Labour Government also took the view that these powers were inconsistent with the European Convention on Human Rights. In a challenge, the European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg Court held that having a politician sitting in judgment in a court was a breach of any litigant's right to a fair trial. However, proposals by the Second Blair ministry, Blair government simply to abolish the office met with opposition from those who felt that such an official was necessary to speak on the judiciary's behalf in
Cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transparent glass sheets or transparent polycarbonate sheets * Filing ...
, as well as from many who opposed the sudden abolition of such an ancient office. In 2003, Tony Blair chose his close friend and former flatmate Lord Falconer of Thoroton, Lord Falconer to be ''Lord Chancellor and
Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs The office of Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs was a British Government position, created in 2003. Certain functions of the Lord Chancellor The Lord Chancellor, formally the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, is the highest-r ...
''. At the same time, he announced his intention to abolish the office of lord chancellor and to make many other constitutional reforms. After much surprise and confusion, it became clear that the ancient office of lord chancellor could not be abolished without an Act of Parliament. Thus Lord Falconer duly appeared the following day in the
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
to carry out his duties from the Woolsack. The
Lord Chancellor's Department The Lord Chancellor's Department was a United Kingdom government department answerable to the Lord Chancellor with jurisdiction over England and Wales. Created in 1885 as the Lord Chancellor's Office with a small staff to assist the Lord Chancell ...
was, however, renamed the
Department for Constitutional Affairs The Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) was a United Kingdom government department The departments of the Government of the United Kingdom are the principal units through which it exercises executive authority; a few of them are titled M ...
. In January 2004, the Department of Constitutional Affairs published a concordat, outlining the division of authority between lord chancellor and
lord chief justice The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales is the Head of the Judiciary of England and Wales There are various levels of judiciary in England and Wales — different types of courts have different styles of judges. They also form a strict ...
and which was intended as the basis of reform. The Government introduced the Constitutional Reform Bill in the House of Lords in February 2004. The bill sought to abolish the office of lord chancellor, and to transfer its functions to other officials: legislative functions to a speaker of the House of Lords, executive functions to the secretary of state for constitutional affairs and judicial functions to the lord chief justice. The bill also made other constitutional reforms, such as transferring the judicial duties of the House of Lords to a supreme court. However, unlike the responsibilities of other secretaries of state, which can be transferred from one department to another by an order-in-council, several functions of the lord chancellor are linked to the office of lord chancellor as a matter of statute law. Those "protected functions" of the lord chancellor can only be transferred to other ministers by Act of Parliament. As a consequence, it became clear that it was extremely difficult to simply "abolish" the office of lord chancellor. In March 2004, however, the Lords upset the Government's plans by sending the bill to a Select committee (United Kingdom), Select committee. Although initially seen as a move to kill the bill, the Government and HM Opposition agreed to permit the bill to proceed through the parliamentary process, subject to any amendments made by the committee. On 13 July 2004, the House amended the Constitutional Reform Bill such that the title of lord chancellor would be retained, although the Government's other proposed reforms were left intact. Then, in November 2004, the Government introduced an amendment in the House of Lords, Lords which wholly removed references to the secretary of state for constitutional affairs, changing them to ones about the lord chancellor, with the positions of secretary of state and lord chancellor envisaged as being held by the same person. The final Constitutional Reform Act 2005, Constitutional Reform Act received royal assent on 24 March 2005 and the major transfers of the historical functions of the lord chancellor to others (such as the
lord chief justice The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales is the Head of the Judiciary of England and Wales There are various levels of judiciary in England and Wales — different types of courts have different styles of judges. They also form a strict ...
and lord speaker) were complete by mid-2006. However the lord chancellor and secretary of state for constitutional affairs remained a member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister's Cabinet, retaining most of the office's original statutory functions. In May 2007, the Department of Constitutional Affairs was abolished and its functions were transferred to a newly created
Ministry of Justice A Ministry of Justice is a common type of government department that serves as a justice ministry. Lists of current ministries of justice Named "Ministry" * Ministry of Justice (Abkhazia) * Ministry of Justice (Afghanistan) * Ministry of Justic ...
which also took charge of certain responsibilities transferred from the Home Office. Lord Falconer retained the title, salary and office of lord chancellor, as well as being created the inaugural
Secretary of State for Justice The Secretary of State for Justice, also referred to as the Justice Secretary, is a senior Minister of the Crown Minister of the Crown is a formal constitutional term used in Commonwealth realms to describe a minister of the reigning sover ...
. Prior to Tony Blair's premiership, were a person not a Peer of the Realm, peer to be appointed to the great offices of state, office of lord chancellor, they would be raised to the peerage upon appointment, though provision was made in 1539 for non-peers who are great officers of state to sit in between the benches in the House of Lords, House. With enactment of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 and the subsequent separation of the roles of lord chancellor and speaker of the House of Lords, it is no longer necessary for the lord chancellor to be a peer or to have a legal background. In June 2007,
Jack Straw John Whitaker Straw (born 3 August 1946) is a British politician who served as the Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament (MP) for Blackburn (UK Parliament constituency), Blackburn from 1979 United Kingdom general election, ...

Jack Straw
Member of Parliament, MP was appointed lord chancellor and secretary of state for justice, thus becoming the first lord chancellor to be a member of the Commons, rather than the House of Lords or its predecessor, the Curia Regis, since Christopher Hatton in 1578; however, both Straw and his immediate successor, Ken Clarke, were barristers: the first justice secretary without a legal background was
Chris Grayling Christopher Stephen Grayling (born 1 April 1962) is a British Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Party politician and author who served as Secretary of State for Transport from 2016 to 2019. He has served as Member of Parliament (United Kingd ...
in 2012; in 2016, Liz Truss became the first woman to serve as lord chancellor.


Fictional depictions

A fictional depiction of a lord chancellor occurs in ''Iolanthe'', the frequently-revived comic opera by W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. The lord chancellor is the central character in the work but is identified only by his title. The action concerns a group of fairies who become romantically involved with members of the House of Lords. The lord chancellor, who serves as guardian to wards of the Court of Chancery, is worried, because he has developed feelings for a ward of court. The character sings a patter song, "The Nightmare Song", about his mental anguish caused by unrequited love. In dialogue, the lord chancellor, in another reference to his romantic dilemma, complains "ah, my Lords, it is indeed painful to have to sit upon a Woolsack stuffed with such thorns as these!" William Rehnquist, late Chief Justice of the United States, was inspired to add four golden stripes to the sleeves of his judicial robes after seeing the costume of the lord chancellor in a production of ''Iolanthe''. The current chief justice, John Roberts, has not continued the practice. A fictional lord chancellor also appears in Charles Dickens' novel ''Bleak House'' (also identified only by title), presiding over the interminable chancery case of ''Jarndyce and Jarndyce''. Anthony Trollope's Palliser novels feature a number of references to fictitious lord chancellors. The Liberal Lord Weazeling holds the office in the Liberal governments of Mildmay and Gresham in ''Phineas Finn'' and ''Phineas Redux''; the Conservative Lord Ramsden holds the position in the Duke of Omnium's coalition government in ''The Prime Minister (novel), The Prime Minister''. In Gresham's final government at the end of ''The Prime Minister'', the former Liberal Attorney General, Sir Gregory Grogram, is finally given the position, which he had desired for some time. ''King Hilary and the Beggarman'', a children's poem by A. A. Milne, relates the story of a fictional lord high chancellor, "Proud Lord Willoughby", who is dismissed for refusing to obey his king. In David Gurr's thriller ''A Woman Called Scylla'', set in 1977, the main villain is an utterly ruthless and unscrupulous lord chancellor, who grossly abuses his many functions and powers in order to cover up his treason during the Second World War and as a stepping stone towards becoming prime minister. As the writer clearly states, this was not intended to refer to the actual holder of the office at the time of writing or at any other time.


List of Lord Chancellors


See also

*Alienation Office *List of Lord Chancellors and Lord Keepers *List of Lord Chancellors of Scotland *List of peerages created for Lord Chancellors and Lord Keepers *Lord Privy Seal, Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal


References


Bibliography

* Watson, Steven. "Figures on a Woolsack" ''History Today'' (Feb 1955) 5#2 pp 75–83. ** Watson, Steven. "Figures on a Woolsack part 2" ''History Today'' (Apr 1955) 55#4 pp 228–235 * * *

*[https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200304/ldbills/030/2004030.htm House of Lords. (2003–2004). Bill 30 (Constitutional Reform Bill).] * {{English Monarchy Household Lord Chancellors, * 1707 establishments in Great Britain Constitution of the United Kingdom Government of the United Kingdom House of Lords Judiciary of England and Wales Ministerial offices in the United Kingdom