I know the phrase, “a man’s home is his castle.” When, I’ve heard the phrase, it seems to imply that a man can do anything he pleases in his home. I know my Daddy even used the phrase a time or two, stressing the fact that we should “be under his rule.” However, he didn’t use the phrase much until he was getting worse with all his sicknesses. We didn’t know that being so grumpy and saying these things was a sign that the end was coming.
Many people think that the say “a man’s home is his castle,” means that the man has a right to do anything, even if it is illegal, inside his home.
The phrase originated as “an Englishman’s home is his castle” or “an Englishman’s house is his castle.” This is because it was popular in the United Kingdom before it ever came to the United States.
The question left is were men ever given the right as a king in their own houses? While it seems that’s what the phrase is saying, it actually means that nobody can enter a home owner’s house without permission.
This law was established in 1628 when Sir Edward Coke wrote The Institutes of the Laws of England . He included the line, “For a man’s house is his castle, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium [and each man’s home is his safest refuge].”
This was used in many publications through the 1700s. Men became confused with the meaning, thinking that it meant they had authority to do whatever they pleased in their houses.
The law was clarified in 1763 by William Pitt, the first Earl of Chatham, also known as Pitt the Elder. He wrote, “The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the crown. It may be frail – its roof may shake – the wind may blow through it – the storm may enter – the rain may enter – but the King of England cannot enter.”
This established that nobody could enter a home without permission from the home’s owner. However, it did not mean that a man could do anything he pleased inside his own home.
This was not a pleasing result for Tony Martin, who was accused of murder because a 16-year-old had broken into his Norfolk, UK home, and he shot and murdered the teen.
The phrase is also not popular by now because of the feminist movement. They cry out, “What about women?” or in the United Kingdom, “What about Englishwomen?”
It is probably a good thing that this phrase originated in English law from the 17 th century, as people can say it is from an old law and is no longer the complete truth.
Martin, G. (n.d.). An Englishman’s home is his castle. The meanings and origins of sayings and phrases . Retrieved January 21, 2011, from http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/an-englishmans-home-is-his-castle.html