Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia

The Secretary of the Commonwealth is a member of the Virginia Governor's Cabinet. The office is currently held by Kelly Thomasson.

Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia
Kelly Thomasson

since April 15, 2016 (2016-04-15)
Member ofVirginia Governor's Cabinet
Reports toGovernor of Virginia
SeatRichmond, Virginia
AppointerGovernor of Virginia

Duties of the Secretary of the Commonwealth

  1. Serving as the Keeper of the Seal of the Commonwealth
  2. Assisting the Governor in the appointment of thousands of individuals to serve on state boards and commissions
  3. Issuing the Commissions of Notaries Public
  4. Authenticating documents
  5. Registering lobbyists
  6. Issuing the "Bluebook," officially "The Report of the Secretary of the Commonwealth," an annual publication that identifies, "(a) the boards of visitors of all public institutions, and other boards appointed by the Governor; (b) all commissions issued under appointments made by the Governor, except commissions to notaries public; (c) all departments, boards, councils, commissions, and other collegial bodies created in the executive branch of state government; and (d) such other matters as the Governor requires." – The Report as defined by the Code of Virginia
  7. Issuing a State Government Organization Chart
  8. Handling pardons and clemencies, restoration of civil rights of former felons, extradition, and service of process. Although the Secretary is involved, the Governor is responsible for granting pardons, clemency, and restorations of rights, as well as authorizing extradition. The Secretary of the Commonwealth's Office handles the paperwork on behalf of the Governor.

In a unique twist of Virginia law, unlike other members of the Governor's Cabinet, the Secretary of the Commonwealth does not resign immediately upon the inauguration of a new Governor, but remains in office for an additional week, serving a fixed term of four years, in order to ensure a smooth transition and ensure continuity in government.


Although the office has evolved over the years, the job has always involved the safekeeping of the Great Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Under the Virginia Constitution of 1901, the Secretary of the Commonwealth was an elected post, along with the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General. Under Virginia's current constitution, enacted in 1971, and with the creation of the Governor's Cabinet during the administration of Governor A. Linwood Holton Jr., the Secretary of the Commonwealth has been an appointed member of the Governor's Cabinet.

Partial list of Secretaries of the Commonwealth

  • John Harvie (1788-1789)
  • George W. Munford (1852–1864)
  • Garrick Mallery (Union occupation)[1]
  • Joseph T. Lawless (1894–1900)
  • David Q. Eggleston (1901–1909)
  • Benjamin O. James (1909–1927)
  • Martin A. Hutchinson (1927–1930)
  • Peter H. Saunders (1930–1938)
  • Raymond L. Jackson (1938–1942)
  • Ralph E. Wilkins (1942–1945)
  • Jesse W. Dillon (1946–1948)
  • M. W. Armistead III (1948)
  • Thelma Y. Gordon (1948–1952)
  • Martha Bell Conway (1952–1970)
  • Cynthia Newman (1970–1974)
  • Patricia R. Perkinson (1974–1978)
  • Stanford Parris (1978)
  • Frederick T. Gray, Jr. (1978–1981)
  • Laurie Naismith (1982–1985)
  • H. Benson Dendy III (1985–1986)
  • Sandra Bowen (1986–1990)
  • Pamela M. Womack (1990–1993)
  • Scott Bates (1993)
  • Ruby Grant Martin (1993–1994)
  • Betsy Davis Beamer (1994–1998)
  • Anne Petera (1998–2002)
  • Anita Rimler (2002–2006)
  • Katherine Hanley (2006–2010)
  • Janet Vestal Kelly (2010–2014)
  • Levar Stoney (2014–2016)
  • Kelly Thomasson (2016–present)


  1. Fletcher 1895, p. 5.
  • Fletcher, Robert (16 February 1895), Brief memoirs of Colonel Garrick Mallery, U.S.A., who died October 24, 1894, Washington: Judd & Detweiler, pp. 3–8, briefmemoirsofco00fletrich at the Internet Archive
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