The privy seal developed early in the 13th cent. when the use of the great seal was too cumbersome. From 1275 there was a keeper of the privy seal and the office was upgraded in 1487 when Bishop Foxe was designated lord privy seal. The use of the privy seal was finally abolished in 1884 but by that time the lord privy seal had long established his position as a member of the cabinet. Being without portfolio, he is now available to take on special governmental responsibilities.
Subjects: British History.