A writ is a formal written order, originally of the English monarch but later of a common law court. Since 1999, the Civil Procedure Rules have provided for civil cases in England and Wales to be started with a plain English 'claim form,' rather than the traditional 'writ of summons' (commanding the defendant to attend court to answer the plaintiff's claim). However, the writ of summons still exists in other common law jurisdictions (eg. the High Court of Australia) and the 'prerogative writs' of certiorari (commanding an inferior tribunal to send its records to a court of review), mandamus (commanding an executive officer to perform a duty) and prohibition (commanding an executive officer not to perform an unlawful act) still exist in the United States and other jurisdictions.
The writs of election are a non-judicial example of the continuing use of writs. These writs command electoral officers to conduct an election in Commonwealth countries, and are usually still expressed in the traditional Victorian drafting style. For example, the writ for the election of the Queensland Legislative Assembly in 2012, issued by Governor Penelope Wensley, read:
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Australia and her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth.
To the Electoral Commission of Queensland
Wᴇ ᴄᴏᴍᴍᴀɴᴅ ʏᴏᴜ that you proceed according to the law to an election of eighty-nine Members of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland ...
The writs issued in Canada (and presumably the United Kingdom) retain the same form. My question is: what is the meaning of the word 'Greeting' in this form? Was the word 'greeting' historically itself a greeting which could be used in formal English speech? In writs it is usually followed by a colon – does this indicate that the following preamble is a 'greeting'? Are there any other historical contexts in which the word 'greeting' was used in this way?