Note on editorial method

Sponsor

Institute of Historical Research

Publication

Author

J.C. Sainty

Year published

1973

Supporting documents

Pages

13-14

Citation Show another format:

'Note on editorial method', Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 2: Officials of the Secretaries of State 1660-1782 (1973), pp. XIII-XIV. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=16618 Date accessed: 01 August 2014.


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Note on Editorial Method

This volume is designed to make available lists of the officials who served in the offices of the Secretaries of State between the Restoration in May 1660 and the reorganisation of the secretariat which took place in March 1782. Also included are the holders of those offices which were common to the secretariat as a whole. For these the year 1782 had no special significance and, in their case, the lists have been continued down to the abolition of their offices in the nineteenth century. The material is presented in four parts: an introduction, lists of appointments, periodic lists of officials and an alphabetical list of officials. The purpose of the introduction is to provide a short account of the institutional development of the Secretaries' offices during the period in order that the various offices and grades may be related to their general context. The lists of appointments give the dates of appointment to these offices and grades. They are preceded by introductory notes which bring together information concerning such matters as the methods of appointment and remuneration. The periodic lists enable the complete establishment of the secretariat to be seen at selected dates.

The alphabetical list is not intended to be a biographical index. Its purpose is confined simply to providing summarised accounts of the offices held by each individual within the secretariat. No information has been included unless it is directly relevant to this purpose. Thus dates of death are included only if the individual was in office at his death. Appointments to offices elsewhere have been ignored unless they occasioned, or can reasonably be held to have occasioned, the departure of the official from the secretariat. Except in the case of the offices common to the secretariat as a whole, the accounts of the careers of those who were in office in March 1782 have not been continued beyond this date.

All references have been concentrated in the alphabetical list. Where printed calendars of manuscript material exist they have been used as authorities provided that the calendaring is sufficiently full. Peers and holders of courtesy titles have been indexed under their titles. In the case of changes of name or status, appropriate crossreferences have been inserted. Unless otherwise noted, information concerning peers and baronets has been taken from the Complete Peerage (ed. G.E.C. 2nd ed. 13 vols. London 1910-59), the Complete Baronetage (ed. G.E.C. 5 vols. Exeter 1900-6) and Burke's Peerage.

Certain conventions have been adopted for dating appointments. The year is taken to have begun on 1 January throughout the period. In the case of those offices which were conferred by an instrument, whether this took the form of letters patent under the great seal or of royal warrant, the date is that of the instrument. However, the appointments of Secretaries of State have been dated by reference to the date of the reception of the seals or, failing this, that of the taking of the oath in the Privy Council. So far as possible the appointments of Under Secretaries and Clerks have been dated by reference to the notifications sent to the Post Office in connection with the privilege of franking. Officials are taken to have remained in office until the appointment of their successors unless there is clear evidence to support the selection of an earlier date. Where there is no indication of the date of appointment of an individual, his period of service has been dated by reference to the time during which he received a salary or other remuneration or, failing this, by reference to the earliest and latest date at which he is found occupying a particular office.

The task of presenting the material relating to the careers of those officials who were common to the secretariat as a whole creates few problems since, in most cases, the sources are reasonably satisfactory and the establishment of the succession of those holding the offices is all that is required. It is otherwise in the case of the Secretaries' immediate officials-the Under Secretaries, Clerks, Office Keepers and Necessary Women. Here difficulties arise for two principal reasons. On the one hand the structure of the Secretaries' offices was relatively fluid. The staff tended to become attached to a succession of Secretaries rather than to the departments of which they had charge. In consequence their careers are, in most cases, better understood in terms of their relationship to particular Secretaries. The arrangement of the entries in the alphabetical list reflects this consideration. The office held by each of the Secretaries' officials is followed by the names, in brackets, of the Secretaries whom they served and the dates of their service. In order to identify the departments in which officials were serving at particular times, reference should be made to the accounts of the careers of the Secretaries of State in question where details of their tenure of the various departments are given.

The second problem of presentation affecting the Secretaries' immediate officials arises from the unsatisfactory nature of the source material for their careers. This has necessitated, in many cases, reliance on a variety of incidental references and resort to conjecture for periods when information is wholly lacking. To have associated this supporting material with each stage of the officials' careers would have had the effect of seriously obscuring their general direction. In order to overcome this problem all references and conjectures have been removed to separate paragraphs so that the course, or probable course, of each official's career may be more readily understood.



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