A petty officer in the Roman law courts stationed at the
chancel (q.v.) as usher of the court. In the Eastern Empire he
was a secretary or notary, subsequently invested with judicial
functions. The office was introduced into England by Edward the
Confessor, and under the Norman kings the chancellor was made official
secretary of all important legal documents. In France, the chancellor
was the royal notary, president of the councils, and keeper of the
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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