privy sealThe privy seal was originally the king's own personal or private
seal. Alexander III is known to have had a privy seal by 1272, but there is no
evidence that one was in regular use before Robert I's reign (1306-29), when it
was called the privatum sigillum or 'privy' seal as in England. During his reign
it was used for financial and household matters, though not to the exclusion of
the great seal, and it was probably during this reign that it came to be used
for mandates to the chancellor requiring him to issue charters under that seal,
the origin of the procedure known as 'passing the seals' Writs passing under the
Privy Seal were recorded in the Register of the Privy Council. The earliest register
begins in 1488 by which time the seal had been affected by the growing use of
the signet and sign manual for authenticating the sovereign's written commands.
There are no surviving registers for the period of the Cromwellian administration.
Grants under the Privy Seal fall into two main groups:
1. Those passed
on the strength of a warrant under the signet ('per signetum' ) comprised those
precepts or warrants for documents which were to pass the Great Seal, mainly charters,
remissions, and legitimations. In Latin.
2. Those passed on the authority
of a warrant under the sign manual ( 'per signaturam' ) where the Privy Seal alone
was sufficient authority, including grants of pensions, leases of crown lands,
respites, gifts of moveable property which had fallen to the crown by escheat,
'ultimus haeres', suicide or otherwise, appointments to minor offices in central
and local government, university chairs and presentations to benefices, passports,
licences to travel overseas and licences to print. Generally in the vernacular.
great many precepts in the Privy Seal Register are not in the Great Seal Register.
The order of documents in the register also relates to the date of sealing, which
could be several years after the issue of the original warrant for the grant,
rather than the date of the grant. Some grants were never recorded at all, but
are documented by surviving warrants.
The Privy Seal of Scotland was last
used in 1898.
The recordsThe Register of the Privy Seal, 1488-
1584 (Registrum Secreti Sigilli Regum Scotorum or RSS for short) has been published
in 8 volumes. They are fully indexed by person, place and office with the addition
of a subject index in vol. 8.
of the Privy Seal, old series||1488-1651 || |
Register, new series||1661-1788, 1795-1810 ||A
few of the volumes have indexes. See also PS7/2-3.|
Register, new series||1661-1898||Some
of the volumes have indexes. A gap in the register between 1789 and 1795 partly
filled by surviving warrants. See also PS7/3.|
of Precepts of Remissions under the Great Seal||1611-22
of Precepts for Charters under the Great Seal to Baronets of Nova Scotia||1625-38|| |
also PS7/3.The earlier minute books list the contents of the registers, though
the entries are undated. After 1661 the minute books are in chronological order
of sealing which does not distinguish between Latin and English writs and bears
no direct relation to the contents of the two registers. |
to apprisings and offices, 1499-1651.|
Latin Register, index of persons, 1661-1705.
(minute book) to Latin Register, 1744-73, and to English Register, 1745-1811.
due for writs passing the privy seal.|
Books of Privy Seal fees||1763-97, 1808-98 || |
warrants for the English and Latin registers|
allocated|| || |
of Precepts for Charters to Baronets of Nova Scotia||1627-37||Typescript
list of patents of baronetcies of Nova Scotia, 1625-1707. The institution of baronetcies
in England by King James VI dates from 1611. In 1625 King Charles I instituted
Scottish baronetcies of Nova Scotia in an attempt to encourage settlement in that
colony. Since the Union of 1707, all baronetcies are of the United Kingdom.|
papers||pre-1600 - 1898||These
are mostly 19th century papers and relate to the business and procedures of the
Privy Seal Office|
Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland||1488-1584||Index
of persons, places and offices in each volume||Published
in 8 vols.|
to Benefices under Privy Seal ||1567-1587||Persons
to Benefices under Privy Seal ||1587-1600||Persons
and PS13||Privy Seal English Record||1660-1782||Persons
the recordsThe records of the Privy Council are available at the Historical
Search Room in General Register House.
to the National Archives of Scotland', (Stationery Office, 1996) pp19-27.
Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia, The Laws of Scotland, vol.7' (1995), pp.592-4.
Archives of Scotland
Crown Copyright 2006