In an age when it was the fashion both at court and elsewhere for the higher families to keep a household fool for the amusement of their visitors and themselves, the Lord of Muncaster had a noted one, who, like many a better fellow, was apt to resent an insult when he thought it was carried too far.
During those days when each feudal lord held jurisdiction over his manors, evil deeds were done and punished or passed over at the will of the lord.
Tom was a favourite with his master, and one hot day he found the castle joiner in his workshop taking a nap after dinner, with his head resting on a block of wood for a pillow.
Calling to mind the many instances of the joiner having made more sport of him than was agreeable, he took an axe and chopped off the joiner’s head, hiding it among the shavings. He then capered into the hall in great glee, saying—” When the joiner wakes he will have some trouble to find his head.”
It is said of that far-off time, that a good joiner was easier to find than a good fool, and Tom’s exploit was overlooked.
Cumbriana; Or, Fragments of Cumbrian Life – 1876
(Tom Skelton, aka Tom Fool, was a court jester of Muncaster Castle in the 16th century.)