Did you know that Toastmasters originated in the times of the Roman Empire? Although beer was the beverage of the common people, wine was favoured by the ruling classes and at important events. The term ‘Toasting’ derived from the technique of dropping croutons into the bottle, the purpose being to attract the floating ‘bits’ in the normally unrefined wine.
The recognisable role of the modern Toastmaster, although claimed by the English to be an innate part of their heritage, was actually crafted by a Welshman, one Richard ‘Beau’ Nash, born in Swansea in 1674. After an education at Oxford and a period spent in the army Nash was appointed Master of Ceremonies for the town of Bath. This unofficial position involved matching dancing partners at balls, brokering marriages, escorting unaccompanied wives and the regulation of gambling. His ‘uniform’ comprised a coloured frock coat,knee breeches, black stockings and black , silver buckled shoes. A black cane would be used to bang on the floor to gain attention. Despite the last element of his duties Nash was himself a notorious gambler and died in 1761, practically destitute.
Little changed until 1894 when Londoner William Knightsmith, a well known Toastmaster, tired of being addressed as ‘waiter’ by people attending the various functions where he was working. Upon the advice of his wife he bought a new scarlet, long tailed coat, which granted him recognition and added dignity to his profession. Although initially considered eccentric by his peers, once it attracted the approval of The Prince of Wales at a banquet of civil engineers, they clamoured to get a copy of the design, and even to borrow his own coat. Within a year, virtually all the Toastmasters in London were wearing the long tailed scarlet coat.
From Iwan A Wedding Toastmaster at Your Service
Across the whole of Wales & the border counties of Gloucestershire & Herefordshire