Master of the Rolls


The Keeper or Master of the Rolls and Records of the Chancery of England, known as the Master of the Rolls, is the President of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, Civil Division, and Head of Civil Justice. As a judge, he or she is the second in seniority in England and Wales only to the Lord Chief Justice.[1] The position dates from at least 1286, although it is believed that the office probably existed earlier than that.[2]

Master of the Rolls of England and Wales
The Judiciary of England and Wales
Incumbent
Sir Geoffrey Vos

since 11 January 2021
StyleThe Right Honourable
NominatorJudicial Appointments Commission
AppointerThe Sovereign on recommendation of Prime Minister and Lord Chancellor, who are in turn given recommendations by a selection panel
Term lengthLife tenure; Retirement at age 70, or 75 if appointed to a judicial post before 31 March 1995
Inaugural holderJohn Langton
Formation2 September 1286
Salary£214,165
WebsiteThe Judiciary of England and Wales

The Master of the Rolls was initially a clerk responsible for keeping the "Rolls" or records of the Court of Chancery, and was known as the Keeper of the Rolls of Chancery.[3] The Keeper was the most senior of the dozen Chancery clerks, and as such occasionally acted as keeper of the Great Seal of the Realm.[4] The post evolved into a judicial one as the Court of Chancery did; the first reference to judicial duties dates from 1520.[5] With the Judicature Act 1873, which merged the Court of Chancery with the other major courts, the Master of the Rolls joined the Chancery Division of the High Court and the Court of Appeal,[6] but left the Chancery Division by the terms of the Judicature Act 1881. The Master of the Rolls had also been warden of the little-used Domus Conversorum for housing Jewish converts, which led to the house and chapel being used to store legal documents and later becoming the location of the Public Record Office. He retained his clerical functions as the nominal head of the Public Record Office until the Public Records Act 1958 transferred responsibility for it to the Lord Chancellor.[7] One residual reminder of this role is the fact that the Master of the Rolls of the day continues to serve, ex officio, as President of the British Records Association. The Master of the Rolls was also previously responsible for registering solicitors, the officers of the Senior Courts.[8]

One of the most prominent people to hold the position was Thomas Cromwell, a highly influential figure during the reign of Henry VIII; more recently, Lord Denning held the position for 20 years, from 1962 to 1982, and made sweeping changes in the common law. On 3 October 2016, Sir Terence Etherton succeeded Lord Dyson as Master of the Rolls.[9] In July 2020, it was announced that Sir Geoffrey Vos will be appointed as his replacement from 11 January 2021.[10]

List of Masters of the Rolls


Thomas Cromwell, a highly influential figure during the reign of Henry VIII
Sir Thomas Egerton, who served as Lord Keeper and Lord Chancellor for 21 years
Sir John Trevor, the last Speaker of the House of Commons to resign in over 300 years until the resignation of Michael Martin in 2009
Sir Nathaniel Lindley, who made key judgments in a variety of important cases and was the last Serjeant-at-Law appointed, the last to sit as a judge and the last surviving.
Sir Thomas Bingham, who helped establish the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
No. Portrait Name Term of office Other positions Notes
1 John Langton2 September 12861 October 1295Lord Chancellor 1292–1302, 1307–1310[11][12]
2 Adam Osgodby1 October 129519 August 1316
[11]
3 William Airmyn19 August 131626 May 1324
[11]
4 Richard Airmyn26 May 13244 July 1325
[11]
5 Henry de Cliff4 July 132520 January 1334
[11]
6 Michael Wrath20 January 133428 April 1337
[11]
7 John de St Paul28 April 133710 January 1341Archbishop of Dublin 1349–1362, Lord Chancellor of Ireland 1350–1356[13]
8 Thomas Evesham10 January 134121 February 1341
[13]
9 John Thoresby21 February 13412 July 1346
[13]
10 David Wollore2 July 134628 March 1371
[13]
11 William Burstall28 March 13718 September 1381
[13]
12 John Waltham8 September 138124 October 1386Lord Privy Seal 1386–1389, Lord Chancellor 1349–1356[13][14]
13 John Burton24 October 138622 July 1394
[13]
14 John Scarle22 July 139411 September 1397Lord Chancellor 1399–1401[13][15]
15 Thomas Stanley11 September 139724 September 1402
[13]
16 Nicholas Bubwith24 September 14022 March 1405Lord Privy Seal 1405–1406, Lord High Treasurer 1407–1408[16][17]
17 John Wakering2 March 14053 June 1415Lord Privy Seal 1415–1416[16][18]
18 Simon Gauntsede3 June 141528 October 1423
[16]
19 John Frank28 October 142313 November 1438
[16]
20 John Stopyndon13 November 143829 March 1447
[16]
21 John Kirkeby29 March 144723 December 1461
[16]
22 Robert Kirkeham23 December 146112 February 1471
[16]
23 William Morland12 February 147129 April 1471
[16]
24 John Alcock29 April 147116 March 1472Lord Chancellor 1475, 1485–1487[16][19]
25 John Morton16 March 14729 January 1479Lord Chancellor 1487–1500, Archbishop of Canterbury 1486–1500[16][20]
26 Robert Morton9 January 147922 September 1483
[21]
27 Thomas Barowe22 September 148322 August 1485
[21]
28 Robert Morton jointly with William Eliot22 August 148526 February 1487Jointly from 13 November 1485[21][22]
29 David William26 February 14875 May 1492
[21]
30 John Blyth5 May 149213 February 1494
[21]
31 William Warham13 February 14941 February 1502Keeper of the Great Seal 1502–1504, Lord Chancellor 1504–1515, Archbishop of Canterbury 1503–1532[21][23]
32 William Barons1 February 150213 November 1504
[21]
33 Christopher Bainbridge13 November 150422 January 1508Archbishop of York 1508–1514[21][24]
34 John Yonge22 January 150812 May 1516
[25]
35 Cuthbert Tunstall12 May 151620 October 1522Lord Privy Seal 1523–1530[25][26]
36 John Clerk20 October 15229 October 1523
[25]
37 Thomas Hannibal9 October 152326 June 1527
[25]
38 John Taylor26 June 15278 October 1534Archdeacon of Derby 1516–1533, Archdeacon of Buckingham 1516–1534[25]
39 Thomas Cromwell8 October 153410 July 1536Secretary of State 1533–1536, Lord Privy Seal 1536–1540[25][27]
40 Christopher Hales10 July 15361 July 1541Solicitor General 1525–1529, Attorney General 1529–1536[25][28]
41 Sir Robert Southwell1 July 154113 December 1550
[25]
42 John Beaumont13 December 155018 June 1552
[25]
43 Sir Robert Bowes18 June 155218 September 1553
[25]
44 Sir Nicholas Hare18 September 15535 November 1557Speaker of the House of Commons 1539–1540[29][30]
45 Sir William Cordell5 November 155730 May 1581Solicitor General 1553–1557, Speaker of the House of Commons 1558[29][31]
46 Sir Gilbert Gerard30 May 158110 April 1594Attorney General 1559–1581[29][32]
47 Sir Thomas Egerton10 April 159418 May 1603Solicitor General 1581–1592, Attorney General 1592–1594, Lord Chancellor 1596–1617, First Lord of the Treasury 1613–1614[29][33]
48 Edward Bruce, 1st Lord Kinloss, 1st Lord Bruce18 May 160314 January 1611
[29]
49 Sir Edward Phelips14 January 16111 September 1614Speaker of the House of Commons 1603–1611[29][34]
50 Sir Julius Caesar1 September 161418 April 1636Chancellor of the Exchequer 1606–1614[29]
51 Sir Dudley Digges18 April 163630 March 1639
[29]
52 Sir Charles Caesar30 March 163928 January 1643
[29]
53 The Lord Colepeper (royalist)28 January 16433 November 1660Chancellor of the Exchequer 1642–1643[29][35]
54 William Lenthall (parliamentary)10 November 164314 May 1659Speaker of the House of Commons 1640–1647, 1647–1653, 1654–1655, 1659–1660[36][37]
55 Sir Harbottle Grimston, Bt3 November 166012 January 1685Speaker of the House of Commons 1660[36][38]
56 Sir John Churchill12 January 168520 October 1685Attorney-General 1673–85[39] [36]
57 Sir John Trevor20 October 168513 March 1689
[36]
58 Sir Henry Powle13 March 168913 January 1693Speaker of the House of Commons 1689[36][40]
59 Sir John Trevor13 January 169313 July 1717Speaker of the House of Commons 1685–1689, 1693–1717[36][41]
60 Sir Joseph Jekyll13 July 17179 October 1738
[36]
61 Sir John Verney9 October 17385 November 1741
[36]
62 William Fortescue5 November 174115 January 1750
[36]
63 Sir John Strange16 January 175018 May 1754Solicitor General 1737–1742[36][42]
64 Sir Thomas Clarke25 May 175413 November 1764
[43]
65 Sir Thomas Sewell4 December 176430 March 1784
[43]
66 Sir Lloyd Kenyon30 March 17844 June 1788Attorney General 1782–1783, 1783–1784, Lord Chief Justice 1788–1802[43][44]
67 Sir Richard Arden4 June 178827 May 1801Solicitor General 1782–1783, 1783–1784, Attorney General 1784–1788, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas 1801–1804[43][45]
68 Sir William Grant18011817Solicitor General 1799–1801[43][46]
69 Sir Thomas Plumer6 January 18185 April 1824Solicitor General 1807–1812, Attorney General 1812–1813[43][47]
70 The Lord Gifford5 April 182414 September 1826Solicitor General 1817–1819, Attorney General 1819–1824, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas 1824[43][48]
71 Sir John Singleton Copley14 September 18263 May 1827Solicitor General 1819–1824, Attorney General 1824–1826, Lord Chancellor 1827–1830, 1834–1835, 1841–1846[43][49]
72 Sir John Leach3 May 182729 September 1834Vice Chancellor of England 1818–1827[43][50]
73 Sir Charles Pepys, Bt29 September 183416 January 1836Solicitor General 1834, Lord Chancellor 1836–1841, 1846–1850[43][51]
74 The Lord Langdale16 January 183628 March 1851
[52]
75 The Lord Romilly28 March 185130 August 1873Solicitor General 1848, Attorney General 1850[52]
76 Sir George Jessel30 August 187321 March 1883Solicitor General 1871–1873[52][53]
77 The Lord Esher3 April 188319 October 1897Solicitor General 1868[52][54]
78 Sir Nathaniel Lindley19 October 18979 May 1900
[52][55]
79 The Lord Alverstone9 May 190024 October 1900Lord Chief Justice 1900–1913[52][56]
80 Sir Archibald Levin Smith24 October 190019 October 1901
[52]
81 Sir Richard Collins19 October 19016 March 1907
[52][57]
82 Sir Herbert Cozens-Hardy
(The Lord Cozens-Hardy from 1914)
6 March 19073 May 1918
[52]
83 Sir Charles Swinfen Eady3 May 19183 November 1919
[52]
84 The Lord Sterndale3 November 19197 August 1923President of the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division 1918–1919[58][59]
85 Sir Ernest Pollock
(The Lord Hanworth from 1926)
11 October 19237 October 1935Solicitor General 1919–1922, Attorney General 1922.[58][60]
86 The Lord Wright7 October 193526 April 1937
[58]
87 The Lord Greene26 April 19371 June 1949
[58]
88 Sir Raymond Evershed (The Lord Evershed from 1956)1 June 194919 April 1962
[58]
89 The Lord Denning19 April 196230 July 1982
[58]
90 Sir John Donaldson (The Lord Donaldson of Lymington from 1988)30 July 19821 October 1992
[58]
91 Sir Thomas Bingham1 October 19924 June 1996Lord Chief Justice 1996–2000; Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary 2000–2008[61]
92 The Lord Woolf4 June 19966 June 2000Lord Chief Justice 2000–2005[62]
93 The Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers6 June 20003 October 2005Lord Chief Justice 2005–2008, President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom 2009–2012[63]
94 Sir Anthony Clarke
(The Lord Clarke of Stone-cum-Ebony from May 2009)
3 October 200530 September 2009Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, 2009–2017[64]
95 The Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury1 October 200930 September 2012President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, 2012–2017[65]
96 Lord Dyson1 October 20122 October 2016Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, 2010–2012[66]
97 Sir Terence Etherton (The Lord Etherton from December 2020) 3 October 2016 11 January 2021 Chancellor of the High Court, 2013–2016 [67]
97 Sir Geoffrey Vos 11 January 2021 Incumbent Chancellor of the High Court, 2016–2021 [67]

Peerages created for the Master of the Rolls


Since the Act of Union 1707
Master of the RollsTitleCreatedCurrent statusOther Judicial Roles
Sir Lloyd Kenyon Baron Kenyon Extant Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench
Sir Richard Arden Baron Alvanley 22 May 1801 Extinct 24 June 1857 Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas
Sir Robert Gifford Baron Gifford 30 January 1824 Extant Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas
Sir John Copley Baron Lyndhurst 25 April 1827 Extinct 12 October 1863 Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain
Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer
Sir Charles Pepys Earl of Cottenham 11 June 1850 Extant Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain
Baron Cottenham 20 January 1836
Sir Henry Bickersteth Baron Langdale 23 January 1836 Extinct 18 April 1851 None
Sir John Romilly Baron Romilly 3 January 1866 Extinct 29 June 1983 None
Sir William Brett Viscount Esher 11 November 1897 Extant None
Baron Esher 24 July 1895
Sir Nathaniel Lindley Baron Lindley as Law Lord 10 May 1900 Extinct 9 December 1921 None
Sir Richard Webster Viscount Alverstone 24 November 1913 Extinct 15 December 1915 Lord Chief Justice of England
Baron Alverstone 18 June 1900
Sir Richard Collins Baron Collins as Law Lord 6 March 1907 Extinct 3 January 1911 None
Sir Herbert Cozens-Hardy Baron Cozens-Hardy 1 July 1914 Extinct 11 September 1975 None
Sir Charles Swinfen Eady Baron Swinfen 1 November 1919 Extant None
Sir William Pickford Baron Sterndale 14 November 1918 Extinct 17 August 1923 None
Sir Ernest Pollock Viscount Hanworth 17 January 1936 Extant None
Baron Hanworth 28 January 1926
Sir Robert Wright Baron Wright as Law Lord 11 April 1932 Extinct 27 June 1964 None
Sir Wilfrid Greene Baron Greene 16 July 1941 Extinct 16 April 1952 None
Sir Raymond Evershed Baron Evershed 20 January 1956 Extinct 3 October 1966 None
Sir Tom Denning Baron Denning as Law Lord 24 April 1957 Extinct 5 March 1999 None
Sir John Donaldson Baron Donaldson of Lymington as Life Peer 15 February 1988 Extinct 31 August 2005 None
Sir Tom Bingham Baron Bingham of Cornhill as Law Lord 4 June 1996 Extinct 11 September 2010 Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales
Sir Harry Woolf Baron Woolf as Law Lord 1 October 1992 Extant Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales
Sir Nick Phillips Baron Phillips of Worth Matravers as Law Lord 12 January 1999 Extant President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales
Sir Tony Clarke Baron Clarke of Stone-cum-Ebony as Life Peer 29 May 2009 Extant None
Sir David Neuberger Baron Neuberger of Abbotsbury as Law Lord 11 January 2007 Extant President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
Sir Terence Etherton Baron Etherton as Life Peer 23 December 2020 Extant None

See also


References


  1. Govt. press release https://www.gov.uk/government/news/master-of-the-rolls-sir-terence-etherton
  2. Sainty (1993) p. 144
  3. Hanworth (1935) p. 310
  4. Hanworth (1935) p. 316
  5. Hanworth (1935) p. 327
  6. "Oxford DNB theme:Masters of the Rolls". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/92826. Retrieved 13 October 2008. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  7. Records of the Master of the Rolls and the Rolls (Chapel) Office, National Archives
  8. "Judicial Profiles – Master of the Rolls". Judiciary of England and Wales. Archived from the original on 21 April 2009. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
  9. "Master of the Rolls: Sir Terence Etherton". 10 Downing Street. 26 May 2016.
  10. "Master of the Rolls: 31 July 2020". 10 Downing Street. 31 July 2020. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
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  65. Gibb, Frances (23 July 2009). "Lord Neuberger". The Times. London. Retrieved 8 September 2009.
  66. "Appointment of Master of the Rolls". 10 Downing Street Press Notice. London. 29 August 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  67. "Master of the Rolls: Sir Terence Etherton - Press releases - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 3 October 2016.

Bibliography