Master in chancery

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MASTER IN CHANCERY. An officer of the court of chancery.
     2. The origin of these officers is thus accounted for. The chancellor from the first found it necessary to have a number of clerks, were it for no other purpose, than to perform the mechanical part of the business, the writing; these soon rose to the number of twelve. In process of time this number being found insufficient, these clerks contrived to have other clerks under them, and then, the original clerks became distinguished by the name of masters in chancery. He is an assistant to the chancellor, who refers to him interlocutory orders for stating accounts, computing damages, and the like. Masters in chancery are also invested with other powers, by local regulations. Vide Blake's Ch. Pr. 26; 1 Madd. Pr. 8 1 Smith's Ch. Pr. 9, 19.
     3. In England there are two kinds of masters in chancery, the ordinary, and the extraordinary..
     4.-1. The masters in ordinary execute the orders of the court, upon references made to them, and certify in writing in what manner they have executed such orders. 1 Sm. Ch. Pr. 9.
     5.-2. The masters extraordinary perform the duty of taking affidavits touching any matter in or relating to the court of chancery, taking the acknowledgment of deeds to be enrolled in the said court, and taking such recognizances, as may by the tenor of the order for entering them, be taken before a master extraordinary. 1 Sm. Ch. Pr. 19. Vide, generally, 1 Harg. Law Tr. 203, a Treatise of the Maister of the Chauncerie.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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The form of the lawyer's kindness to Bartleby suggests an otherwise unexpressed guilt over the foreclosures that he facilitates as Master in Chancery. That he associates his office with foreclosures is indicated by his seeing himself as metaphorically a victim of foreclosure: it was an office, he says, in which "I had counted upon a life-lease of profits, whereas I only received those of a few short years" (636, my italics).
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