Originally, each of the three high common law courts, the King's Bench, the Court of Common Pleas, and the Court of the Exchequer, had its own chief justice: the Lord Chief Justice, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and Chief Baron of the Exchequer. The Court of the King's (or Queen's) Bench had existed since 1234. In 1268 its foremost judge was given the title of (lord) chief justice before when one of the justices would be considered the senior judge, and fulfil an analogous role. The three courts became divisions of the High Court in 1875, and following the deaths of the Lord Chief Justice and Lord Chief Baron in 1880, the three were merged into a single division (first held by the last Chief Justice of Common Pleas) creating a single Lord Chief Justice of England.
The suffix "and Wales", now found in statutes and elsewhere, was unilaterally appended by holder Lord Bingham of Cornhill between 1996 and 2000.
Constitutional Reform Act 2005
The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (CRA) made the Lord Chief Justice the president of the Courts of England and Wales, vesting the office with many of the powers formerly held by the Lord Chancellor. While the Lord Chief Justice retains the role of President of the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal, the CRA separated the role of President of the Queen's Bench Division; the changed chief justice role was first held by Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers. The CRA provides that he or she is chosen by a specially appointed committee convened by the Judicial Appointments Commission.