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lord privy seal

lord privy seal. The privy seal developed early in the 13th cent. when the use of the great seal was too cumbersome or the king was travelling. From 1275 there was a keeper of the privy seal and the office was upgraded in 1487 when Bishop Foxe was designated lord privy seal. By the end of his long tenure, the office had established itself as one of the most important in the realm. Though the privy seal, in turn, became too formal an authorization and was superseded by the signet, the lord privy seal found new tasks, presiding over the Court of Requests, set up in the Tudor period to provide justice for poor men. The use of the privy seal was finally abolished in 1884 but by that time the lord privy seal had long established his position as a member of the cabinet. Being without portfolio, he is now available to take on special governmental responsibilities.

J. A. Cannon

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