queen remembrancer

Queen's Remembrancer

The Queen's Remembrancer (or King's Remembrancer when the monarch is male) is an ancient judicial post in the legal system of England and Wales. Since the Lord Chancellor no longer sits as a judge, the Remembrancer is the oldest judicial position in continual existence. The post was created in 1154 by King Henry II as the chief official in the Exchequer Court, whose purpose was 'to put the Lord Treasurer and the Barons of Court in remembrance of such things as were to be called upon and dealt with for the benefit of the Crown', a primary duty being to keep records of the taxes, paid and unpaid. The first King's Remembrancer was Richard of Ilchester, a senior Civil Servant and later Bishop of Winchester. The King's Remembrancer continued to sit in the Court of the Exchequer until its abolition in 1882. The post of Queen's Remembrancer is held by the Senior Master of the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court.

Quit Rents ceremonies

The Exchequer Court is reconstituted every year for the ancient ceremonies of the "Rendering of the Quit Rents to the Crown" by the City of London at the Royal Courts of Justice. There are three of these; the oldest dating from 1211. In this ceremony, the City of London pays service for two pieces of land: The Moors near Bridgnorth in Shropshire, for which the City must pay two knives, one blunt and one sharp.

The second oldest has been made, entered in the Great Roll of the Exchequer, since 1235. This is for 'The Forge' (forge) in Tweezer's Alley, just south of St Clement's Dane, near the Strand in London, for which the City must pay six horseshoes and 61 horseshoe nails.

These two Quits are paid together as one ceremony. During the ceremony, a black-and-white-chequered cloth is spread out — it is from this that the word "Exchequer" derives. These two events are combined with the introduction to the Remembrancer of the City's newly elected Sheriffs.

The six horseshoes and the sixty-one Nails are themselves over 550 years old, since after being rendered to the Queen’s Remembrancer, they are preserved in his Office and with the permission of the Crown, they are loaned to the Corporation of London to be rendered again the following year.

The Solicitor & Comptroller of the City of London presents the horseshoes and nails and counts them out to the Remembrancer who then pronounces "Good number." The knives are tested by the Queen's Remembrancer by taking a hazel stick, one cubit in length, and bending it over the blunt knife and leaving a mark. Then the stick is split in two with the sharp knife. This practice stems from the creation of tally sticks where a mark was made in a stick with a blunt knife for each payment counted and then, when payment was complete, the stick was split down the middle, leaving each party with half of the marked stick and creating a receipt. After the knives are tested the Remembrancer pronounces "Good service."

The third quit rent rendered ceremonially (of all other payments) to the Crown by the City of London dates from 1327, and is for £11 in regard to the reserved interest of the Crown for the 'town of Southwark. '. In that year the City was granted its fourth oldest Royal Charter to acquire Southwark from Edward III for this annual payment. It was specifically retained by Edward VI in the 1550 charter to the City which extended its jurisdiction over the outlying parts of Southwark. This Quit is rendered by the Foreman of the City of London's Court Leet Jury of the 'Town and Borough of Southwark' alias Guildable Manor, which is the same area as defined in 1327. The continuation of this body is sanctioned under the Administration of Justice Act 1977. The ceremony takes place in a suitably dignfied venue in the manor, the Cathedral library, the Glaziers Hall or the new Greater London City Hall. This sum is rendered onto the Exchequer Cloth in the form of 'Crowns' ie 5 shilling/ 25 pence pieces, which are still legal tender. The Remembrancer pronounces "Good service" and this is witnessed by the Clerk of the Chamberlain of London's Court as well as the Manor Jurors to note that the payment has been made.

Trial of the Pyx

The Trial of the Pyx is a ceremony dating from 1249, formerly held in the Exchequer Court but now held in Goldsmiths Hall. The Queen's Remembrancer swears in a jury of 26 goldsmiths who then count, weigh and otherwise measure a sample of 88,000 gold coins produced by the Royal Mint. The term "Pyx" refers to the name of the box in which the coins are kept.

Forest of Dean

In 1688, King James II appointed the King's Remembrancer to appoint commissioners to supervise the planting of trees in the Forest of Dean. The Forest was an important source of iron, coal and timber to the Monarch, but had been neglected during the Commonwealth.

Other responsibilities

The Queen's Remembrancer is also responsible for nomination of the High Sheriffs of each County of England and Wales (except Cornwall, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Lancashire), who are later selected by the monarch via the pricking ceremony.

The Remembrancer presents the Lord Mayor of the City of London to the Lord Chief Justice, Master of the Rolls and other High Court judges at the Royal Courts of Justice on Lord Mayor's Day.

The Queen's Remembrancer also presents newly appointed Sheriffs of the City of London with a Writ of Approbation from the Monarch, sealed with the great silver seal of the Exchequer. This takes place at the same time as the Quit Rents. The present holder of the office is Master Steven Whitaker.

List of Remembrancers

See also



  • J. C. Sainty (comp.), Officers of the Exchequer (List and Index Society, Special Series 18, 1983), 40.

External links

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