1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lord High Treasurer

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

LORD HIGH TREASURER, in England, once the third great officer of state. The office was of Norman origin and dated from 1216. The duty of the treasurer originally was to act as keeper of the royal treasure at Winchester, while as officer of the exchequer he sat at Westminster to receive the accounts of the sheriffs, and appoint officers to collect the revenue. The treasurer was subordinate to both the justiciar and the chancellor, but the removal of the chancery from the exchequer in the reign of Richard I., and the abolition of the office of justiciars in the reign of Henry III., increased his importance. Indeed, from the middle of the reign of Henry III. he became one of the chief officers of the crown. He took an important part in the equitable jurisdiction of the exchequer, and was now styled not merely king’s treasurer or treasurer of the exchequer, but lord high treasurer and treasurer of the exchequer. The first office was conferred by delivery of a white staff, the second by patent. Near the end of the 16th century he had developed into an official so occupied with the general policy of the country as to be prevented from supervising personally the details of the department, and Lord Burleigh employed a secretary for this purpose. On the death of Lord Salisbury in 1612 the office was put in commission; it was filled from time to time until 1714, when the duke of Shrewsbury resigned it; since that time it has always been in commission (see Treasury). The Scottish treasury was merged with the English by the Act of Union, but the office of lord high treasurer for Ireland was continued until 1816.