State and Privy Council records

Privy Council records

The Privy Council consisted of royal officers and others upon whom the monarch relied for advice. Existing since the thirteenth century, it was not until the later fifteenth century the council had advisory, executive and judicial functions though surviving records are mainly confined to the last. It is in this period that the 'secret' or privy council marked its formal appearance when, in February 1490, Parliament elected 2 bishops, an abbot or prior, 6 barons and 8 royal officers to form the king's council 'for the ostensioun and forthputting of the King's authorite in the administracioun of justice'.

The Lords of Secret Council, as they were known, were part of the general body of Lords of Council, like the Lords of Session and Lords Auditors of Exchequer. It met regularly and was particularly active during periods of a monarch's minority. The business of the council was recorded in two registers: those dealing with the public or state business - acta (acts) and those dealing with private litigation - decreta (decreets).

poser 268 - Privy Council records, 1587
poser 269 - Privy Council records, 1587
poser 270 - Privy Council records, 1587
poser 316 - Articles of Agreement, 1610/11
poser 306 - Letter to the Privy Council, 1620
poser 337 - Privy Council papers, 1620
poser 315 - Decreets of the Privy Council, 1680
poser 331 - Decreets of the Privy Council, 1680

State papers

It was the task of the Royal Secretary and his officers to draft treaties, credentials for envoys, the king's letters to foreign potentates and other diplomatic documents. These documents can be found amongst the state papers.

poser 301 - Articles of agreement between English and Scottish Commissioners, 1597

Help on other websites

For more information see the guides to state papers and Privy Council records on the National Records of Scotland website.

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