An occasional series explaining the origins of well-known words and phrases
No.5: "Master of the Rolls"
WHO is the Master of the Rolls, and what does he do?
In olden days, judges had to make their own meals, but it was found that instead of doing important judging, they would spend their mornings deciding what they were going to have for lunch.
This led to all sorts of judicial cock-ups, not least the infamous Bloody Assize, when Judge Jeffreys was so busy deciding between Starbucks or a Quarter-Pounder from Ye Golden Arches that he accidentally sent 347 men to the gallows, and they had to send out for more rope.
So what exactly, does the Master of the Rolls, Britain's top judicial
post do? The answer to this question is a simple one: It is is a traditional post, handed down through the centuries to the
most senior judge in the country, usually after a legal career lasting
many years, without falling asleep on the job.
He has seen infamous suspects come and go, criminals, traitors, politicians and has handed
down judgements in some of the most important cases in recent years, and
it is now time for him to take it easy. The Master of the Rolls does
one job and one job only - he is in charge of the lunch menu at the Old
In Italian law, the equivalent post is Il Padrone di Panini; while in Germany he is Der Bratwurstmesiter. The same post in the United States Supreme Court is traditionally held by a man called Greasy Joe.
So now you know! Share this with your friends and see their jaws quite literally drop!!