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date: 02 March 2021

Masters of the rollslocked

(1286–2017)

Extract

The office of master of the rolls, first recorded in the reign of Edward I but probably older, has changed its functions since the late thirteenth century. Originally the master was the officer responsible for the custody of the records of the royal chancery. In the late fifteenth century, as the chancellor's equitable jurisdiction expanded, so the master was increasingly likely to be a lawyer (usually at this time a civilian or a canonist, but a common lawyer from the 1530s), rather than an administrator. He also acquired a customary position as the chancellor's deputy, presiding as such in chancery when the need arose. By 1730, when his powers were finally settled by statute, the master was long established as a judge. In 1833 he acquired a regular court, defined in 1851 as the court of appeal in chancery. Under the ...

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