lord keeper. The great seal of England was normally in the custody of the lord chancellor. But an office of vice-chancellor or sealbearer in the 12th cent. developed into the separate office of lord keeper. The lord keepership seems to have been used when the holder did not have the standing necessary for the chancellorship and in 1562, by an Act 5 Eliz. c. 18, it was confirmed that the lord keepership carried the full authority of the chancellorship. Bishop Williams, the last clerical holder of the seal, was lord keeper 1621–5, Sir Nathan Wright from 1700, and Sir Robert Henley from 1757, though he was subsequently made chancellor. When no adequate candidate was available, the seal could be put into commission, last done in 1835.
J. A. Cannon
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