An officer appointed to preside over a court of chancery, invested with various powers in the several states.
The office of chancellor is of Roman origin. He appears, at first, to have been a chief scribe or secretary, but he was afterwards invested with judicial power, and had superintendence over the other officers of the empire. From the Romans the title and office passed to the church, and therefore every bishop of the Catholic church has, to this day, his chancellor, the principal judge of his consistory. When the modern kingdoms of Europe were established upon the ruins of the empire, almost every state preserved its chancellor, with different jurisdictions and dignities, according to their different constitutions. In all he seems to have had a supervision of all charters, letters, and such other public instruments of the crown as were authenticated in the most solemn manner; and when seals came into use, he had the custody of the public seal.
An officer bearing this title is to be found in most countries of Europe, and is generally invested with extensive authority. The title and office of chancellor came to us from England. Some state constitutions provide for the appointment of this officer, who is by them, and by the law of the several states, invested with power as they provide.