The original Toastmaster

What does the word Toastmaster conjure up in your mind? I know that once upon a time it immediately made me think of grand dinners & social dances at which every guest was titled and had to be announced in turn. "The Right honourable Sir Maximillion Peregrine Tarquin McDonald-Campbell of that Ilk, and Lady Dorothea of Ecclefechan". Phew! It must have taken hours for these occasions to start. The toastmaster must have had no voice left after having to announce everyone correctly and fully. He would automatically be part of the high society 'wedding of the year' where everyone who was someone would expect an invitation.

Note that I said he; There wouldn't be female toastmasters as often found today.

Toastmasters GlassAll this high class protocol and snobbery, when the original idea of toasting was a little lower in the social scale than our upper class peers would lead us to believe.

To find the origins of the practice of drinking a toast we have to go back to the late 17th century. It was attributed to the practice of naming a lady at a banquet, whose health the company (probably all the men!) was requested to drink. The idea was that the lady's name flavoured the drink like the pieces of spiced toast formerly placed in drinks such as wine. As the liquor would be pretty unsavoury in those days the toast would make it a little more palatable! So now you know a little of the origins of toasting.

The toastmaster himself would have been part of the celebrations therefore a toastmaster glass was introduced in the 18th century. It was about the normal size of an ordinary glass but with around 25% of the capacity. This was so the toastmaster stayed sober enough to carry out his duties.