1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sign-Manual, Royal

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SIGN-MANUAL, ROYAL, the autograph signature of the sovereign, by which he expresses his pleasure either by order, commission or warrant. A sign-manual warrant may be either an executive act, e.g. an appointment to an office, or an authority for affixing the Great Seal. It must be countersigned by a principal secretary of state or other responsible minister. A royal order under the sign-manual, as distinct from a sign-manual warrant, authorizes the expenditure of money, e.g. appropriations. There are certain offices to which appointment is made by commission under the great seal, e.g. the appointment of an officer in the army or that of a colonial governor. The sign-manual is also used to give power to make and ratify treaties. In certain cases the use of the sign-manual has been dispensed with, and a stamp affixed in lieu thereof, as in the case of George IV., whose bodily infirmity made the act of signing difficult and painful during the last weeks of his life. A special act was passed pro- viding that a stamp might be affixed in lieu of the sign-manual (n Geo. IV. c. 23), but the sovereign had to express his consent to each separate use of the stamp, the stamped document being attested by a confidential servant and several officers of state (Anson, Law and Custom of the Constitution, 1907, vol. ii. pt. i. p. 59).