Master of the Rolls

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Employment.png Master of the Rolls 

Start2 September 1286
President of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales and Head of Civil Justice.

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 Civil Division of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales 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]

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]


Office Holders on Wikispooks

Terence Etherton3 October 201611 January 2021
Alfred Denning19 April 196229 September 1982
Raymond Evershed1 June 194919 April 1962


  2. Sainty, John (1993). The Judges of England 1272–1990: a list of judges of the superior courts. Oxford: Selden Society. OCLC 29670782. p. 144
  3. Hanworth (1935) p. 310
  4. Hanworth, Lord (1935). "Some Notes on the Office of Master of the Rolls". Cambridge Law Journal. Cambridge University Press. p. 316
  5. Hanworth (1935) p. 327
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