The chancellor was originally a chief scribe or secretary under the Roman emperors, but afterward was invested with judicial powers, and had superintendence over the other officers of the empire. From the Roman empire this office passed to the church, and every bishop has his chancellor, the principal judge of his consistory. In later times, in most countries of Europe, the chancellor was a high officer of state, keeper of the great seal of the kingdom, and having the supervision of all charters, and like public instruments of the crown, which were authenticated in the most solemn manner. In France a secretary is in some cases called a chancellor. In Scotland, the appellation is given to the foreman of a jury, or assize. In Germany since the unification under Bismarck the office of Chancellor (styled "Reich Chancellor" under the Weimar Constitution and the Nazi dictatorship) is the President of the Federal Council and the head of the German Federal Government. In the United States, the title is given to certain judges of courts of chancery or equity, established by the statutes of separate States. Blackstone. Wharton.
Middle English chaunceler, from Old French chancelier, from Late Latin cancellarius, a director of chancery, from Latin cancelli lattices (“crossbars, which surrounded the seat of judgment”). See chancel.