See Wikipedia for Clerks of the Signet:

The Clerks of the Signet were English officials who played an intermediate role in the passage of letters patent through the seals. For most of the history of the position, four clerks were in office simultaneously.

4 Annotations

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Signet and Privy Seal Offices

From as early as 1444 the use of the signet at an early stage on the passage of grants under the great seal was regulated by the Privy Council and also involved the Privy Seal Office. However, this system of a chain of official responsibility in the making of royal grants was not established by Parliament until the Clerks of the Signet and Privy Seal Act of 1535 laid down that all grants by the King (or in his name) should be brought to the Secretary or one of the clerks of the signet and that a warrant from a Clerk of the Signet to the Keeper of the Privy Seal, to be followed by one from a Clerk of the Privy Seal to the Keeper of the Great Seal, should be the authority in ordinary cases for affixing the great seal to a grant. A scale of fees for the clerks of the Signet and Privy Seal Offices was fixed by the act and provision was made for the payment of these fees in cases where the grant was passed by immediate warrant and did not go through the two offices.

The business of the Signet Office was performed by four clerks acting in person or by deputy. Their primary duty, upon receipt of a warrant under the royal sign manual countersigned by a Secretary of State (or the Treasury commissioners), was to draw out on parchment the king's bill which was sent to the Secretary of State for the royal sign manual. At some period it became necessary for the Attorney General or Solicitor General to prepare the bills in certain cases,such as creations of nobility, charters, commissions and patents for invention. When a king's bill was returned to the Signet Office duly signed, a transcript was made of it. The signet was affixed to this transcript, which was then sent to the Privy Seal Office and was known as the signet bill, being the authority for the writ of privy seal to the Lord Chancellor.

The Signet Office was abolished by the Great Seal Act of 1851 which substituted simpler forms for the passing of grants under the great seal for those previously in use. http://discovery.nationalarchives…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

The Signet Office at the Restoration was in Whitehall Palace in the range of buildings (now part of the site of the Old War Office on the e. side of Whitehall) on the n. side of the 'great' (entry) court of the palace with rooms facing also on to the court beyond. (L&M Companion)

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

On August 1, 1660 (!) Mountain Man directs us to Thomas Frederick Tout's massive "Chapters in the Administrative History of Mediaeval England" (1920-1933), now online.

Reviewer: Mercedes Rochelle - September 22, 2017
Subject: This comes in 5 Volumes
"This is a book reserved for the deepest layer of research. I keep finding Tout listed in the footnotes of history book after history book. Who is this guy?
It's wrong to say I’m finished. I read Volume 1 out of 5.
Tout apparently made English administrative history his life’s work, and subsequent modern “rewrites” rely on his exhaustive research. I found him surprisingly readable.
My immediate concerns are related to Richard II’s reign, but I concluded I would be remiss if I didn’t go to the beginning. As expected, Tout began with the Normans, although things started to heat up in the reign of Henry III, when the administration as we would recognize it began to take shape.
It was interesting to see how the king’s household — or his chamber — established itself for his convenience, then started forming subgroups like the chancery, the exchequer, and the wardrobe; all of them initially answered to the king. Eventually they broke free and functioned on their own.
Each department developed its own officers; sometimes they were clerics, sometimes they were laymen. These positions were often stepping-stones to greater appointments, all the way up to archbishop.
The great seal of the chancery was soon supplemented by a privy — or small — seal (often, but not always, held by the exchequer) which was frequently used when the king was absent.
I wish things were tidy and linear so I could get my hands around them, but there was much back-and-forth between which department worked for whom — sometimes being reabsorbed into the king’s chamber, and sometimes duplicating their efforts (especially between the exchequer and the wardrobe).
This went on for generations.
But overall, I’m beginning to see just how critical these departments were to defining the king’s role in his government (and how much control he had).
Interestingly, Tout refused to describe any major political upsets of each reign; he insisted that this was outside the scope of his study. So, although we have what amounted to a civil war in Henry III’s reign, he only spoke of the changes in the administrative structure. It was as though the household ran as usual, even with catastrophes erupting all around it. Maybe that’s the way it was?
With this as a firm foundation, I’m skipping forward to the end of Edward III (volume 3). With luck, I’ll be able to discover why the nobles and commons were so intent on “cleaning house” during the Merciless Parliament of Richard II. What was going on behind the scenes?"

I think the 5 volumes i are accessible through…

Otherwise JSTOR has it, but you need to belong and log in -- costs money.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.