Note on editorial method

Pages viii-ix

Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 9, Officials of Royal Commissions of Inquiry 1815-1870. Originally published by University of London, London, 1984.

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Note on Editorial Method

This volume is designed primarily to make available lists of the officials of royal commissions first appointed in the period 1 January 1815 to 31 December 1870 to inquire into subjects concerning England and Wales. It follows, therefore, that all commissions of inquiry dealing exclusively with Scotland, Ireland, the colonies, foreign countries or British military forces operating overseas are excluded. Those commissions dealing with the whole of Great Britain or the United Kingdom are included and their work on matters concerning Scotland and Ireland is treated in full. 'Royal' commissions have been defined as those appointed by letters patent under the great seal or by warrant under the royal sign manual signed by a secretary of state. Inquiries instituted by warrant signed by lords of the Treasury are therefore excluded. Bodies acting without royal authority, such as statutory commissions or departmental committees, of course fall outside the scope of this volume. The commissions appointed by the Home Secretary under the authority of statute 15 & 16 Vict. c. 57 to investigate the existence of bribery in particular parliamentary constituencies have also been omitted. While a 'royal' commission can be defined by method of appointment, a commission 'of inquiry' can not. The bodies included in this volume are commissions required only to inquire and report. Temporary commissions with both investigative and executive functions, such as the Fine Arts Commission, the Great Exhibition Commission, the Historical Manuscripts Commission or the various commissions required to digest and consolidate the statute law, are thus not included.

The material is presented in four parts: an introduction, lists of commissions and their officials, an index of officials and an index of commissions. The purpose of the introduction is to provide a brief account of the administrative procedures common to most royal commissions of inquiry. The lists give the dates of appointment of the officials and, if the officials did not serve throughout the commission's existence, the dates of their removal. Unless otherwise stated, the commissioner named first in the list was the commission's chairman or chief commissioner. The service of all officials is considered to have terminated on or shortly after the production of the report or the final report. The lists are preceded by introductory notes which contain information on: the subject of the commission's inquiry, the method of appointment and the remuneration of its officials, the date and location of its reports and the identity of those commissioners who did not sign reports or produced minority reports. Where the commission's papers are known to survive in public hands, their present location is recorded.

Of the officials of royal commissions of inquiry, only commissioners, assistant commissioners and secretaries are listed here. No attempt has been made to list the clerical employees. Unlike other volumes in this series, all references to the appointment and removal of officials are concentrated in the lists of commissions and not in an alphabetical list. The index of officials is not intended to be a biographical index. Its purpose is confined simply to providing the full names and titles of all officials at the time they served in royal commissions of inquiry. All previous or subsequent changes of name or title are ignored. Peers, holders of courtesy titles, archbishops and bishops are listed under their surnames, crossreference being made from their titles. Knights are indexed simply as 'Smith, Sir John'; baronets as 'Smith, Sir John 1st Bart'. Information concerning peers and baronets has been taken from the Complete Peerage (ed. G.E.C. 2nd edn. 13 vols. 1910-59), the Complete Baronetage (ed. G.E.C. 5 vols. Exeter 1900-6) and Burke's Peerage. Information concerning archbishops and bishops has been taken from the Handbook of British chronology (ed. F. M. Powicke and E. B. Fryde 2nd edn. 1961). Where death dates of commoners are cited in the Dictionary of National Biography no reference has been given here. The index of commissions is an index to short titles, not a subject index. In both indexes reference is made to serial numbers in the text and not to page numbers.