CHANCELLOR, n. Ordinally, a chief notary or scribe, under the Roman Emperors; but in England, in later times, an officer invested with judicial powers, and particularly with the superintendence of all charters, letters and other official writings of the crown, that required to be solemnly authenticated. Hence this officer became the keeper of the great seal. From the Roman Empire, this office passed to the church, and hence every bishop has his chancellor.
The Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, or Keeper of the Great Seal, is the highest officer of the crown. He is a privy counselor by his office, and prolocutor of the house of lords by prescription. To him belongs the appointment of all justices of the peace; he is keeper of the kings conscience, visitor of all hospitals and colleges founded by the king, guardian of all charitable uses, and judge of the high court of chancery.
Chancellor of an Ecclesiastical Court, is the bishops lawyer, versed in the civil and canon law, to direct the bishop in causes of the church, civil and criminal.
Chancellor of a Cathedral, is an officer who hears lessons and lectures in the church, by himself or his vicar, inspects schools, hears causes, applies the seal, writes and dispatches letter of the chapter, keeps the books, &c.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, is an officer who presides in that court, and takes care of the interest of the crown. He has power, with the lord treasurer, to lease the crown lands, and with others, to compound for forfeitures on penal statutes. He has a great authority in managing the royal revenues, and in matters relating to the first fruits.
Chancellor of a University, is an officer who seals the diplomas, or letters of degree, &c. The chancellor of Oxford is usually one of the prime nobility, elected by the students in convocation, and he holds the office for life. He is the chief magistrate in the government of the university. The chancellor of Cambridge is also elected from among the prime nobility; he does not hold his office for life, but may be elected every three years.
Chancellor of the Order of the Garter, and other military orders, is an officer who seals the commissions and mandates of the chapter and assembly of the knights, keeps the register of their proceedings, and delivers their acts under the seal of their order.
In France, a secretary is, in some cases, called a chancellor.
In the United States, a chancellor is the judge o a court of chancery or equity, established by statute.
In scripture, a mater of the decrees, or president of the council. Ezra 4.