Originally known as an "Officer of the King", the office of messenger-at-arms dates back several hundred years. Messengers-at-arms have been under the control of the Lord Lyon King of Arms since at least 1510, and are still appointed by Lord Lyon, although now on the recommendation of the Court of Session, to execute summonses and letters of diligence connected with the Court of Session and High Court of Justiciary.
Section 60 of the Bankruptcy and Diligence etc. (Scotland) Act 2007 will abolish the offices of messenger-at-arms and sheriff officer and replace them by a new office of "judicial officer". Judicial officers will hold a commission from the Lord President of the Court of Session under section 57 of the Act, granted on the recommendation of the Scottish Civil Enforcement Commission.