Lord Chancellor of Scotland

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The Lord Chancellor of Scotland was a Great Officer of State in the Kingdom of Scotland.

Holders of the office are known from 1123 onwards, but its duties were occasionally performed by an official of lower status with the title of Keeper of the Great Seal. From the 15th century, the Chancellor was normally a Bishop or a Peer.

At the Union, the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England became the first Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, but the Earl of Seafield continued as Lord Chancellor of Scotland until 1708, he was re-appointed in 1713 and sat as an Extraordinary Lord of Session in that capacity until his death in 1730.

It has been argued that the office is only in abeyance and could potentially be revived. In the event of Scottish independence, the Scottish National Party proposes that the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament become Chancellor of Scotland, with additional constitutional powers during the absence of the Monarch from Scotland. In this respect, the Chancellor would hold a role similar to that of a Governor-General in the Commonwealth realms.[1]

List of Lord Chancellors of Scotland[edit]

James Ogilvy, 1st Earl of SeafieldJohn Hay, 2nd Marquess of TweeddaleJames Ogilvy, 1st Earl of SeafieldPatrick Hume, 1st Earl of MarchmontJohn Hay, 1st Marquess of TweeddaleJames Drummond, 4th Earl of PerthGeorge Gordon, 1st Earl of AberdeenJohn Leslie, 1st Duke of RothesWilliam Cunningham, 9th Earl of GlencairnJohn Campbell, 1st Earl of LoudounJohn Spottiswoode, Archbishop of St AndrewsGeorge Hay, 1st Earl of KinnoullAlexander Seton, 1st Earl of DunfermlineJohn Graham, 3rd Earl of MontroseSir John MaitlandJames Stewart, Earl of ArranColin Campbell, 6th Earl of ArgyllJohn Stewart, 4th Earl of AthollArchibald Campbell, 5th Earl of ArgyllJames Douglas, 4th Earl of MortonGeorge Gordon, 5th Earl of HuntlyJames Douglas, 4th Earl of MortonGeorge Gordon, 4th Earl of HuntlyCardinal David Beaton, Archbishop of St Andrew'sGavin Dunbar, Archbishop of GlasgowArchibald Douglas, 6th Earl of AngusJames Beaton, Archbishop of Glasgow, St Andrew'sAlexander Stewart, Archbishop of St Andrew'sGeorge Gordon, 2nd Earl of HuntlyArchibald Douglas, 5th Earl of AngusColin Campbell, 1st Earl of ArgyllWilliam Elphinstone, Bishop of AberdeenColin Campbell, 1st Earl of ArgyllWilliam Sinclair, 3rd Earl of OrkneyJames Kennedy, Bishop of St Andrew'sSir William CrichtonWilliam Caldwell (Lord Chancellor)Bernard de Linton, Abbot of Arbroath

David I[edit]

Malcolm IV[edit]

William I[edit]

Alexander II[edit]

Alexander III[edit]

English Appointees during the Interregnum[edit]

Robert I[edit]

David II[edit]

Robert II[edit]

Robert III[edit]

James I[edit]

James II[edit]

James III[edit]

James IV[edit]

James V[edit]

Mary I[edit]

James VI[edit]

Charles I[edit]

Charles II[edit]

James VII[edit]

William III and Mary II[edit]


See also[edit]



  1. ^ Principles of the Constitution, at constitutionalcommission.org (.pdf file)
  2. ^ Cowan, p. 70
  3. ^ Cowan, p159


  • Cowan, Samuel, The Lord Chancellors of Scotland Edinburgh 1911. [1]
  • "Lord chancellors of Scotland in the Oxford DNB", in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2007 accessed 20 Feb 2007[permanent dead link]
  • Dowden, John, The Bishops of Scotland, ed. J. Maitland Thomson, (Glasgow, 1912)