History

Although Lieutenants were appointed to a few counties in Scotland from about 1715, it was not until 1794 that permanent lieutenancies were established by Royal Warrant. The warrant ordered the development of volunteer forces for the defence of the country. Forces were based in each County and led by a lord lieutenant who was directly appointed by the sovereign. The Lord Lieutenant in turn appointed deputies. The duties of Lieutenants included provision for the protection of their counties in the event of invasion, threat or civil uprising. They directed volunteer forces and, after the 1797 Militia Act, were empowered to raise and command county militia units.

After 1802 only a landholder who held or was heir to property worth £400 Scots was eligible to serve in the lieutenancy. The Lord Lieutenant was ex officio a member of the police committee and the local authority under the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Acts but the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889 abolished these functions and the role of lieutenancies gradually became largely ceremonial.

The traditional links with the military have been preserved in a modern form in the association of the Lord Lieutenant with the armed forces, the territorial army and other reserve and cadet forces. In recent years the links between the Lord Lieutenant and the uniformed organisations have also led to links with a wide spectrum of voluntary organisations.