History of the Speaker


The name Speaker was first used centuries ago in England. The original job of the Speaker was to communicate information to the King or Queen on behalf of the House of Commons – the commoners. The Speaker presented petitions and grievances to the King or Queen on behalf of these people. If the requests angered the Monarch or threatened the Monarchy's power – which they often did – the Monarch sometimes took revenge by taking the Speaker's life. In parliamentary history, at least nine Speakers died violent deaths for telling Kings and Queens news they did not want to hear. Some historians have indicated that the original purpose of the opening procession was to provide Speakers with bodyguards to protect them from harm as they entered the Assembly Chamber.

The first Speakers were appointed by the Monarch, not by Parliament. Over the centuries, Monarchs turned many of their powers over to Parliament. During the change in power, the Speaker's loyalty shifted from the Monarch to the House of Commons. By the end of the 17th century, the Speaker was an appointee of Parliament and not of the Monarch.