E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
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 Great Seal.