London, Volume 4

Knight, Charles


XCIX.-Inns of Court. No. II.: Lincoln's Inn-Gray's Inn.

XCIX.-Inns of Court. No. II.: Lincoln's Inn-Gray's Inn.



, the next in importance to the Inner and Middle Temple, is situate on the west side of , the

New Street

of Stow, and subsequently styled

Chancellor's Lane.

was the birth-place of the celebrated and unfortunate Lord Strafford, who discovered, too late, that he should have

put not his trust in princes,

and died the victim of his own credulity and his sovereign's weakness, unlamenfed even by the party whom he had served-but deserted. In also, at the wall of the garden of , Ben Jonson is reported, on the authority of Fuller, to have worked, in his capacity of bricklayer, with a trowel in hand and his Horace in the other. A strange medley of personages, as Mr. Leigh Hunt remarks,


have passed up and down this narrow thoroughfare, a world of vice and virtue, fraud and impudence, truth and chicanery, violence and tranquil wisdom!

Through this lane, the connecting link of all the Inns of Court and Chancery, must have passed all the great and eminent lawyers, from Coke and Hale to Erskine and Romilly; Sir Thomas More with his weighty aspect; Bacon with his eye of intuition; the coarse Thurlow, and the elegant Mansfield!

Many a suitor has impatiently traversed this little street again and again in breathless agitation: the dun, the bailiff, and the hired perjurer may be daily found there, and perhaps more misery, injustice, and rapacity have originated in its neighbourhood than in any other part of London.

But if affords instances of the foulest practices, of gross immorality and roguish cunning, its outward appearance, at least, does not belie the character which it is said to bear; it is almost invariably dirty under foot in . In the time of Edward I., John Briton, of London, had it barred up, to prevent any accidents that might happen, were people allowed to pass that way; and the Bishop of Chichester, avowedly for the same reason, kept the bar up for many years.

Afterwards, however, upon an inquisition being made of the annoyances of London, the inquest presented that John, Bishop of Chichester,


years past, stopped up a certain lane, called Chancellor's Lane,

levando ibid. ducas stapulas cum uzua barra

, whereby men with carts and other carriages could not pass. And the Bishop answered, that John Briton, while


of London, for that the said lane was so dirty that no man could pass, set up the said staples and bar,

ad viam illam defutancd

.; and he granted that what was an annoyance should be taken away; which was done by the sheriff accordingly.

The nuisance of an almost impassable and most unwholesome thoroughfare, however, remained until the year , when it was paved with stone at the expense of the Society of .

A considerable part of the west side of this street is occupied by the buildings of , so called from its having been the site of the palace of Henry Lacy, Earl of Lincoln and constable of Chester, who died there in the year , into whose hands the ground passed by virtue of a grant from King Edward I.

of the old friars' house



the friars here mentioned were a house of Black Friars, who subsequently established themselves in the quarter now denominated from them Blackfriars. The Earl of Lincoln assigned the ground formerly occupied by these friars, and his own mansion, Chichester House, to certain professors of the law, who, adding to the space thus obtained the greater part of that belonging to the see of Chichester, built there an Inn of Court for the study of the laws of England. Part of the Inn, namely, the part which belonged to the bishopric, was leased to the Society until the year of Henry VIII., when the Bishop of Chichester granted the inheritance to Francis Sulyard and his brother Eustace, both students, the survivor of whom, in the year of Queen Elizabeth, sold the fee to the Benchers for

The fine old gateway, or gatehouse tower, so conspicuous a feature of , was the work of the early part of the century, having been completed in the year of Henry VIII., and almost entirely at the charge of Sir Thomas Lovell, the founder of Holywell Nunnery, a member of the


Society of , and a knight of the Garter. The arms of this worthy adorn the gatehouse, on which are also placed the escutcheons of the Lacy family, which also were

cast and wrought in lead, on the louer

Louer, or loover, from the Latin lobia, laubia, or lobium, a gallery (Ducange's Glossarium). Hence also Louvre, Gall.

of the hall of the house, which was in the


escutcheons, a lion rampant for Lacie,


mascules voided for Quincie, and


wheatsheafs for Chester.

[n.371.2]  These escutcheons, however, had, in the course of repairing and altering the public buildings, disappeared before the close of the century, and the only memorials of Sir Thomas Lovell now existing may be seen over the ancient gateway in . The bricks and tiles used in the building of this gateway and of the hall were made from clay dug from a piece of ground, then called Coneygarth, lying on the west side of the Inn adjoining to ; and we are further informed by the indefatigable chronicler of these legal localities, that the cost of sculpturing the arms over the gate, together with the wroughtwork for the chimnies, and loads of freestone, was . The gatehouse and all the buildings facing are now completely saturated with smoke, but some of the buildings in the interior of the Inn, especially the

Stone Buildings


are both handsome and commodious; the chambers are chiefly occupied by chancery barristers, conveyancers, and persons in attendance on the Court of Chancery, now held in the hall of and in temporary Vice-Chancellors' courts, which now occupy nearly the whole of the small square, of which the gatehouse forms the easern side. , in which Bickerstaff ( No. ) delighted to walk, being privileged so to do by the Benchers

who had grown old

with him, are extensive. From the garden the spectator may readily distinguish the modern erections from the more ancient buildings of the century: the former occupy the


greatest extent, and consist of the and , formerly called

Searle's Court,

from Henry Searle, Esq., a Bencher of this Inn, whose property this square was about , when it was purchased by the Society. In the centre of the square stood a small Corinthian column, designed by Inigo Jones: at the corners of the pedestal were infant tritons holding shells, which formerly spouted water; this was intended for a fountain, but, from some mismanagement, it has long ceased to be entitled to that name. The are from the design of Sir Robert Taylor, and are only part of a noble plan for rebuilding the whole Inn, but which has never yet been carried out. Several plans have been devised at various times for the embellishment of this Inn and its vicinity, among which those of Inigo Jones prove that that great man, however pure and elegant his taste, was never formed for a Gothic architect: the Chapel, his design, is built upon huge pillars and arches, which once formed a promenade beneath, cold and damp in bad weather, and in fine weather too retired: this has been of late years enclosed with an iron railing, and has been used as a place of interment for the Benchers.

From the terrace walk of the garden a fine view is obtained of of the largest squares in Europe, for the embellishment of which the same architect had formed some grand ideas, intending to have built all the houses in the same style and taste, and to have laid out the garden and formed the inlets to this beautiful square on a most magnificent scale; but unfortunately his designs were never carried out,

because the inhabitants had not taste enough to be of the same mind, or to unite their sentiments for the public ornament and reputation.

There are plans entertained of building new courts of justice in , in lieu of the present courts at , which are thought to be inconveniently far from the Inns of Court, and for building a new hall for , on the western side of the garden of that Inn, near the spot mentioned above as the ancient


Hall, which has been repeatedly altered and modernised, was commenced in , and is an exceedingly fine room, though smaller and by no means so handsome as the halls of the Inner and Middle Temple. It is used for the sittings of the Lord Chancellor out of term time, as well as for the usual of the Society during term. At the end is a picture by Hogarth of

Paul preaching before Felix;

a lamentable failure of that eminent painter, so great in his own walk. The statue of Thomas Erskine, instead of encumbering , is most appropriately placed at the southern end of the Hall, opposite to the chair of the Lord Chancellor.

Erskine was a member of this Inn, and his coat of arms decorates the walls of the Hall, together with the escutcheons of Spencer Perceval, Canning, Lyndhurst, Brougham, and other eminent lawyers; and here also are the arms of the clergymen emblazoned who have filled the office of preacher to the Honourable Society. Among these appear the names of Reginald Heber, William Warburton, and John Tillotson. Erskine's career was a splendid , though his parts were more shining than solid. At an early age, while in the army, he married a young lady to whom he was much attached, and who accompanied him to Minorca; and this union, foolish and thoughtless as it was considered by his family, was always declared by himself to have been the incitement which


spurred him on to exertion. In the year he returned to England, and shortly afterwards, conceiving that his talents were hidden in the poor society of marching regiment, he entered at , and immediately commenced his studies at the Bar. Amongst the distinguished characters who assembled at the house of Mrs. Montague, Mr. Erskine was not unfrequently seen.

He talked,

says Boswell,

with a vivacity, fluency, and precision so uncommon, that he attracted particular attention.

Erskine, a husband and a father, struggled hard with pecuniary difficulties. The time at length arrived when he was at liberty to commence his professional life; but, on rising to speak, though it was but to make a motion of course, he was so overcome with confusion, that he was about to sit down.

At that time,

he was accustomed to relate,

I fancied I could feel my little children tugging at my gown, so I made an effort-went on-and succeeded.

Of famous member of this Inn of Court-Prynne-we have spoken in our Number on

Ely Place,

and again in Number LXVII., and in the former we have given Whitelock's account of the famous masque which the gentlemen of the Inns of Court, with this historian at their head, determined on performing in the most splendid manner, in order to eradicate entirely the bad effects of the


was never behind the Temple in its masques, revels, Christmasings; nor were the exercises of dancing and singing merely permitted at this Inn, but insisted on: for, by an order, made on the , in the of James I., it appears

that the under-barristers were by, decimation

put out of commons, for example's sake

, because the whole Bar were offended by

their not dancing on the Candlemas-day preceding, according to the ancient order of the Society, when the Judges were present,

and a threat that if the like fault were repeated, they should be fined or . Instead of the Temple Lord of Misrule, the

King of the Cocknies

ruled over the festivities at , and they also had a

Jack Straw,


he and all his adherents were utterly banished in the time of Elizabeth,

and an order issued that they

should no more be used, upon pain of forfeit for every time

five pound

, to be levied on every fellow offending against this rule.

From the following entry in the register, it would seem that the grand Christmasings were not kept regularly:

It is agreed, that if the


Temples do kepe Chrystemas, then Chrystemas to be kept here; and, to know this, the steward of the house ys commanded to get knowledge, and to advertise my masters by the next day at night.

The men of this Inn appear, however, to have been rather

topping the mode,

so that it was deemed proper in Elizabeth's reign, besides curtailing the grand banquets and limiting the number of assumed characters represented at them, to enact sumptuary laws, prohibiting long hair and lace ruffs, also the introduction into the ball of cloaks, swords, and spurs; while, unmindful of Justice Shallow's chaunt,--

'Tis merry in hall

When beards wag all

the Benchers had previously forbidden at dinner, under pain of paying double commons; the fashion of wearing beards was, nevertheless, found too deeply rooted, and the prohibition was subsequently repealed. Hale, of the of , was considered a gay young fellow, and, doubtless, parted more readily with his fine of double commons than his beard; and Hale, Denham, andEllesmere were young once. The gayest young student on record, and he was a Templar, was Samuel Foote!

He came into the room,

says Dr. Harrowby,

dressed out in a frock suit of green and silver lace, bag-wig, sword, bouquet, and point ruffles, and immediately joined the critical circle of the upper end of the room. Nobody knew him. IHe, however, soon boldly entered into conversation, and, by the brilliancy of his wit, the justness of his remarks, and the unembarrassed freedom of his manners, attracted the general notice. The buz of the room went round,

Who is he?

Whence comes he?

To which nobody could answer, until a handsome carriage stopping at the door to take him to the assembly of a lady of fashion, they learned from the servants that his name was Foote, that he was a young gentleman of family and fortune, and a student of the Inner Temple.

The scene of this was Nando's coffeehouse, the resort of the great leaders of the Bar for many years, where, of later years, Erskine, Gibbs, Garrow, Plumer, Park, and Jekyll--in short, all who were eminent in their profession waited until the full court, to which they belonged, was assembled.

To return to the gay members of and their feasts. In the Christmas of Pepys writes:--

The King visited

Lincoln's Inn

, to see the revells there; there being, according to an old custome, a prince and all his nobles, and other matters of sport and charge.

This must have been a glorious Christmas at , Charles II.'s


presence, the attendance of Clarendon, Ormond, and Shaftesbury, and the performance at the revels of Hale, Ley, and Denham; Prynne standing by, and gloomily regarding the merriment and joyous faces, which he held both profane and unworthy of a pious man: the whole must have presented a curious spectacle, but we have but a crude report of it by Pepys. Yet these representations must have been

meat and drink

to him; and some of the masques presented by these learned societies were written by men of genius, and contain beautiful poetry, as in the by Browne, of which some specimens have been given to the world by Sir Egerton Brydges. Decker, in his satire against Ben Jonson, accuses him of having stolen his jokes from the Christmas Plays of the Templars:

You shall sweare not to bumbast out a new play with the old lyning of jestes stolen from the Temple Revells.

Whether the native talent of the Inns was considered of a high character by this dramatist does not appear: it is more probable that the usual custom was to employ a professional playwriter for the purpose of composing the_ masques at these place. Thus, in the works of Beaumont and Fletcher, we have

The Masque of the Gentlemen of

Gray's Inn



Sir Matthew Hale contributed a large collection of Manuscripts to the Library of this Society, which is now situate in . The formation of this Library was begun in the reign of Henry VII.; and in the early part of the reign of Elizabeth the building was erected, and the accumulation of books greatly forwarded by an order made in the year of James I.,

for the more speedy furnishing of the Library, every


that should thenceforth be called to the Bench in this Society should give xx s. toward the buying of bookes for the same Library; and every


thenceforth called to the bar xiiis. iiiid.: all which summs to be paid to Mr. Matthew Hadde, who, for the better ordering of the said Library, was then made master thereof.

The Library is now greatly enlarged, and besides the valuable bequests of Sir Matthew Hale and other members of the Society, contains some thousands of volumes, principally on law and history, to which additions are continually made from the funds of the Society. The books, of course, must not be removed from the Library, but with few other restrictions they are always open to the examination of the curious. The MSS. of Sir Matthew Hale are very valuable, relating chiefly to professional subjects; and by a clause in his will, in which he speaks somewhat egotistically of his own lucubrations, he expressly forbids any lending of his donations,

unless there be any of my posterity that desires to transcribe any book, and gives very good security to restore it again within a prefixed time; then, and not otherwise, only


book at any


time may be lent out to them by the Society;


they are a treasure not fit for every man's view, nor is every man capable of making use of them.

Valuable additions have also been made, in pursuance to testamentary orders, out of the private libraries of various deceased members of the Society: several volumes of MS. in Selden's handwriting are here preserved, and a tolerably extensive collection on legal subjects bequeathed by Mr. Sergeant Maynard, Mr. Coxe, and Mr. S. Hill.

, containing at the present day the Chancery Courts, is more occupied by counsel attending the equity bar than by common-law lawyers. Of the latter, the greater number have their chambers in the Temple:


has also a large number of resident members, but, from its increased distance from legal business, is not so greatly occupied by barristers or attorneys.


, the Inn of Court in importance and in size, derives its name from the Lords Gray of Wilton, whose residence it originally was, and of whom, Edmund, Lord Gray of Wilton, in , by indenture of bargain and sale, passed to Hugh Denny, Esq., his heirs and assigns,

the manor of Portpoole, otherwise called

Gray's Inn





gardens, the site of a windmill,


acres of land,

ten shillings

of free rent, and the advowson of the chantry of Portpoole.

The parties into whose possession this property afterwards came, disposed of it to the prior and convent of East Sheen, in Surrey, a place celebrated for having been the nursery of Cardinal Pole and many other eminent ecclesiastics of the century. The convent leased the mansion of Portpoole, as was then frequently denominated, to certain students of the law, at the annual rent of , at which rent they continued to hold them until the suppression of the ecclesiastical communities by Henry VIII., when they received a grant from the King, who seized these estates, together with the Temple and all other monastic property, upon which he could lay his


hands; and the Benchers of were thenceforth entered in the King's books as the fee-farm tenants of the crown, paying annually the same rent as was reserved by their former landlords, the monks of Sheen.

As bounds on the east, so does bound , and if there be a shade of difference between these streets, certainly the former must be allowed to have the advantage both in cleanliness and respectability. Yet the northern end of , though not so richly

furnished with fair buildings and many tenements on both the sides,

as in the times of Stow, has yet a very neat aspect, and assumes a fresher appearance as the distance increases from Bars,

leading to the fields towards Highgate and Hampsted.

The garden was planted about the year , at which period Mr. Francis Bacon, afterwards Lord Verulam, in his account as treasurer of the Society, debits the Inn in the sum
. of for the planting of elm trees therein. at present consists of large squares, of which that which is entered immediately from is the handsomer, but the recent restoration of the public buildings of the Society has rendered the square verj much more elegant than it formerly was. The Hall and Chapel separate these squares, and occupy the whole of the southside of the larger; the former was built in Queen Mary's reign, and completed in , costing : it is a very handsome chamber, little inferior to Middle Temple Hall, and its carved wainscot and timber roof render it much more magnificent than the Inner Temple or Hall. Its windows also are richly emblazoned with the armorial bearings of Burleigh, Lord Verulam, Sir Nicholas Bacon, Jenkins, and others. The Chapel is of modern erection: it was probably built on the site of the

Chauntry of Portpoole,

mentionef in the grant to Hugh Denny. In this


divine service was daily performed, and masses sung for the soul of John, the son of Reginald de


Gray, for which certain lands were then granted to the Prior and Convent of St. Bartholomew's, Smithfield. And, at the expense of the latter, divine service in succeeding ages was here performed on behalf of the students and other members of this Society, as is evident from a decree made in the Augmentation Court, , Henry VIII. This decree further expresses that the said Prior and Convent, and their predecessors, were yearly charged with the pension of for the salary or stipend of the chaplain for this chauntry, and that the said house of St. Bartholomew being then dissolved, this Society,

in recompense thereof, should receive of the King's Highness, for finding of the said chaplain, during the King's pleasure, the sum of

6l. 13s. 4d.

sterling, yearly, to be paid by the hands of the treasurer of the said Court of Augmentations, at the feasts of the Nativity of St. John Baptist and St. Michael Archangel, by even portions.

The internal economy and manners of this Inn seem to have been very similar to that of the other Inns of Court at the same period: their masques and revels were participated in by the men of , as we find was the case in the famous masque conducted by Whitelocke, and arranged at Ely Place; but though the


of Gray's occasionally displayed a gorgeous interlude and held a plenteous Christmasing, the same bad report attaches to them as their brother barristers of had incurred, by their laxity in the


days, of which fault the Templars had never been accused. In Michaelmas term, Henry VIII., there was an order made that

whenever there are revells, the fellows of the house shall not depart out of the hall until the said revells shall be ended, under the penalty of


The famous comedy, which was acted here at Christmas of the year , and was written by John Roos, a student of this Inn, and afterwards Sergeant-at-Law, gave such offence to Cardinal Wolsey, probably by its containing reflections on the pomp and arrogance of the clergy, that its author was degraded and imprisoned. Nor was this the time that the power of the Chancellor had been felt in the Inns of Court. In the year , Sir Amias Paulet having found it necessary, in his capacity of Justice of the Peace, to put Wolsey, then only parson of Lymington, into the stocks, the Prelate never forgot the insult; and about Sir Amias was glad to make peace with the haughty Prelate by rebuilding the gatehouse of Middle Temple, which he did, adorning it with the Cardinal's hat and cognizance in a

most glorious manner.

On the site of this gatehouse, which was destroyed by fire, was the present erected.

The most eminent members of whom can boast are Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam, and Lord Burleigh, the celebrated minister of Queen Elizabeth. Mr. Cecil had entered at , as he informs us, in his MS. diary, in :

Whether this removal to

Gray's Inn


says Dr. Nares,

were for the purpose of his being bred wholly up to the profession of the law, we are not able to say, since it was no unusual thing in those days for young men of family and talents, who had any prospect of becoming members of the legislature, to go through a course of law at some


of our Inns of Court, in order to become better acquainted with the laws and constitution of their country. It was regarded, indeed, as almost a necessary qualification.

An anecdote of Burleigh's Gray's-Inn days is related by his old historian, in the quaint language of


the age in which he flourished:

A mad companion having enticed him to play, in a short time he lost all his money, bedding, and books to his companion, having never used play before. And being afterwards among his other company, he told them how such a


had misled him, saying he would presently have a device to be even with him. And with a long trouke he made a hole in the wall, near his playfellow's bedhead, and in a fearful voice spake thus through the trouke:

O mortal man, repent! repent of thy horrible time consumed in play, cozenage, and lewdness, or else thou art damned and canst not be saved!

Which being spoken at midnight, when he was all alone, so amazed him, as drove him into a sweat for fear. Most penitent and heavy, the next day, in presence of the youths, he told with trembling what a fearful voice spake to him at midnight, vowing never to play again; and calling for Mr. Cecil, asked him forgiveness on his knees, and restored him all his money, bedding, and books. So


gamesters were both reclaimed with this merry device, and never played more. Many other the like merry jests (?) I have heard him tell, too long to be here noted.

Who Burleigh's


were nowhere appears, but the future statesman himself was a married man during the greater part of his sojourn at , and ought to have been more steady than to stake his

books and bedding,

after losing his


but, from many memoranda of which have come down to our time, it would seem that the students of this society were rather an unruly set. Pepys writes thus in :

Great talk of how the barristers and students of

Gray's Inn

rose in rebellion against the benchers the other day, who outlawed them, and a great deal to do; but now they are at peace again.



Romilly was a member of .

I sometimes lose all courage,

writes he, despondingly, to a friend, in the year ,

and wonder what fond opinion of my talents could ever have induced me to venture on so bold an undertaking: but it often happens (and I fear it has been my case) that men mistake the desire for the ability of acting some distinguished part.

Romilly studied diligently and successfully, and, like Erskiae, Burke, and Curran, delighted in attending on the debating societies, which among the modern law-students have taken the place of the ancient of the , , and centuries. Curran's account of his introduction and at of these societies is most witty and instructive: it is the identical



of hundreds.

Upon the


occasion of our assembling, I attended, my foolish heart throbbing with the anticipated honour of being styled

the learned member that opened the debate,


the very eloquent gentleman who has just sat down.

All day the coming scene had been flitting before my fancy and cajoling it; my ear already caught the glorious melody of

Hear him, hear him

Already I was practising how to steal a cunning sidelong glance at the tear of generous approbation bubbling in the eyes of my little auditory; never suspecting, alas! that a modern eye may have so little affinity with moisture, that the finest gunpowder may be dried upon it. I stood up-my mind was stored with about a folio volume of matter; but I wanted a preface, and for want of a preface the volume was never published. ; I stood up, trembling through every fibre; but remembering that in this I was but imitating Tully, I took courage, and had actually proceeded almost as far as

Mr. Chairman,

when, to my astonishment and terror, I perceived that every eye was, riveted upon me. There were only




present, and the little room could not have contained as many more; yet was it, to my panic-struck imagination, as if I were the central object in nature, and assembled millions were gazing upon me in breathless expectation. I became dismayed and dumb; my friends cried,

Hear him!

but there was nothing to hear. My lips, indeed, went through the pantomime of articulation; but I was like the unfortunate fiddler at the fair, who, upon coming to strike up the solo that was to ravish every ear, discovered that an enemy had maliciously soaped his bow; or rather like poor Punch, as I once saw him, grimacing a soliloquy, of which his prompter had most indiscreetly neglected to administer the words.

Need we add that it was not many months before the sun shone forth in all its splendour, and

stuttering Jack Curran,


orator Mum,

as he was frequently styled, became inappropriate epithets when applied to this gem of the Sister Isle.

In connection with the Inns of Court, and their associations and inhabitants, it will be proper to make some mention of the Inns of Chancery, formerly the nurseries of our great lawyers, but at present attached only by name to the parent Inns of Court. Of these Inns of Chancery, the Inner Temple has , Clement's, Clifford's, and Lyon's Inn; the Middle Temple, , New Inn; , , Thavies' and Furnival's; and , , Barnard's and Staples'. Strand Inn, or Stronde Inn, was an Inn of Chancery in the reign of Henry VIII., and probably long before that period, and belonged to the Middle Temple: this, together with the Bishop of Worcester's Inn, and the Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield's house, commonly called Chester Inn, were pulled down by the Duke


of Somerset, in making room for his mansion, . The Inns of Chancery are principally inhabited by attorneys; but anciently it was considered indispensable that a student should spend some years at of these, employing himself in learning the forms of the writs which issued from the High Court of Chancery to the courts of common law. Thus Sir Edward Coke was year at and at the Inner Temple; and even

I Master Robert Shallow, Esquire, justice of the peace and quorum,

though doubtless not of the brightest ornaments of his time, passed some time at .

In the middle of the garden of is a sundial, supported by a figure of considerable merit, kneeling (a naked Moor or African), which was presented to the society by Lord Clare, by whom it was brought from Italy. The following verses are said to have been found stuck upon this figure :--

In vain, poor sable son of woe, Thou seek'st the tender tear; From thee in vain with pangs they flow, For mercy dwells not here. From cannibals thou fled'st in vain, Lawyers less quarter give: The first won't eat you 'till you're dead, The last will do't alive!

The Inns, denominated

Sergeants' Inns,

of which is in , and the other in , are exclusively appropriated to gentlemen who have been called to the degree of the coif: the Judges are always members of Sergeants' Inn, and have official chambers in Rolls Garden, , where a great deal of the minor business of a suit at law is transacted. But little of this sort of information needs to be included in a sketch of the Inns of Court and Chancery. The lawyers of London are not, at the present day, so corporate a class of men as at former periods; the Inns of Court are not so much a place of residence as formerly; the habits of the barrister are the habits of any other gentleman, Morning visits are not made in black silk gowns and powdered wigs; and the Chief Justices of our courts have ceased to wear fans, as Sir Edward Coke was in the habit of doing, carrying about of those


fans, which Dugdale mentions, having long handles, with which the of those times

slasht their daughters when they were perfect women.

Society has gained much by the great abandonment of the Inns as places of residence, except for the younger members; and the curtailment of a few hours a-day from professional avocations, since the Masters in Chancery sat at in the morning, must have acted beneficially on all classes.

It may be desirable to conclude this sketch of some of the peculiarities of the Inns of Court by a notice of the modes of admitting Students, and of calling them to the Bar after the required course of probation.

Each of the Inns of Court is independent. They agree, however, in the observance of certain common regulations. Though without any control over each other, they have all undertaken, voluntarily, by committees of the benchers, the observance of certain general and mutually-advantageous resolutions. No person can keep a term in any of them without being days in the hall when the grace is said after dinner. None of the societies can call a gentleman to the


bar before he has been years a member of the society, unless he is a master of arts or a bachelor of laws of any of the-universities of Oxford, Cambridge, or Dublin, when years is the period required. No person in trade or in deacon's orders, and no who has held the situation of a conveyancer's clerk, can be admitted at all; and solicitors and attorneys must have their names struck off the rolls for years, and the articles of clerks must be expired or cancelled years, before they can be admitted. If of the societies reject an applicant for admission, the circumstance is communicated to all the other inns, and, according to the resolutions by which all the societies are voluntarily bound, none of them can admit him. No can be called to the bar until his name and description have been put up on the screen in the hall of the society to which he belongs for a fortnight previous to his call, and communicated to all the other societies. Before the call, the oaths of allegiance and supremacy are required. If the applicant gives a wrong description of himself in any respect, his application will be rejected. Without the approbation of the treasurer or of the benchers, no gentleman can be admitted.

The mode of admission varies little in the Inns. In stating his wishes to the society, the applicant must describe his age and condition in life, and the abode and condition in life of his father,--set forth the object which he has in view in seeking admission,--and bind himself to abstain from practice as a conveyancer unless he obtains the permission of the benchers. Recommended as a gentleman of respectability by barristers, with the surety of a householder or a barrister for the payment of his dues, the applicant must give in a paper, containing his application, recommendation, and surety, to the steward of the society, for the approval of a bencher or the treasurer. When his application is approved, the admission takes place on the payment of a sum for the stamp, the bond, the admission-money, and other items, varying in the different Inns from to On his admission, the Student enters into a bond of penalty, along with another member of the Inn, for the payment of his cpmmons or dinners while a student. Before he can keep terms, that is, eat a certain number of dinners in each term, he must deposit (which will be returned without interest on his call to the bar, or when he leaves the society), or produce a certificate of having kept the requisite number of terms at Oxford, Cambridge, or Dublin, or of membership of the Faculty of Advocates in Scotland. In all the Inns the Student must keep terms before he can be called.[n.382.1]  Irish Students must keep in England, and in Dublin, and there is a ceremonial of exercises which all Students must undergo, the object of which is to make the benchers acquainted with the persons of the Students. In the Inner Temple this assumes the form of an examination, in order rather to learn how the Student has spent his time than to ascertain his abilities and acquirements.

On the expiring of his terms, his age being more than years, and his certificate on commencing his exercises having been approved, the student informs the steward of his inn of his intention, some days previous to the commencement of the term in which he wishes to be called, in order that the necessary preparations may be made. Having obtained the support of of the benchers to his petition, which he addresses to the benchers at a special council,


if he obtains their approbation he attends the benchers after dinner, the usual oaths are administered, and he is called to the bar. When this has taken place, new bonds are entered into for the payment of his dues under a penalty of ; and the expense, made up of various items, differs in the inns from about (the expense of being called in ) to (the expense in ).

There are different degrees among the members of the inns. The barristers were anciently called apprentices of the law, from ., to learn. Above them formerly were the was a degree of precedence bestowed as a mark of honour upon barristers, though enjoyed as a right by the sons of judges. The serjeants are the highest degree at common law, as the doctors are in civil law.- The Court of Common Pleas was, until lately, set apart to this order of barristers. Serjeants-at-law are made by the King's writ, directed to the barristers upon whom the honour is conferred, commanding them to take upon them that degree by a certain day. The appointment of a barrister to the office of Queen's Counsel is another mode of conferring rank, technically called giving a silk gown, by which costume the bearers of this honour are distinguished. This honour is sometimes conferred by letters patent of precedence.

The benchers are elected out of barristers at the bar according to seniority. They govern and direct the Society. Their power is discretionary, and cannot be questioned. They may reject an application for admission without even assigning a reason. They possess this power, however, only in common with all voluntary societies. There is no appeal from their decision. The judges are visiters of the inns. It is their province to take cognizance of the conduct of the benchers to the members of the inns; so that, though a person never admitted has no appeal to the judges, the refusal of a call to a member may be subjected to the revision of the visiters. The privilege of conferring upon individuals the right of pleading is enjoyed by the inns only in consequence of the permission of the judges.

The authority of the benchers in the rejection of an applicant for admission was tried in Michaelmas term, , before the Court of King's Bench, in the case of Mr. Thomas Jonathan Wooler. Mr. Wooler applied in Michaelmas term, , for admission as a member of , but received, on the following, an official communication of his rejection from the steward, without any reason assigned. He then petitioned the benchers for a statement of the reasons of his rejection, and a hearing in his own behalf; and having received no answer from them, he petitioned the judges for redress. He was informed by the Lord Chief Justice of the Court of King's Bench, that the judges had no power to interfere in the case. Mr. Wooler then applied for a , used in all cases where the law has established no other mode of redress--on the ground, that if the judges had no jurisdiction in such cases, the powers of the benchers were both grievous and unconstitutional. The judges delivered their opinions , which coincided with the opinion formerly expressed by Lord Mansfield--that the society was a voluntary body, and therefore beyond the jurisdiction of the Court--that no had an inchoate right to admission, since the Inns of Court were not incorporations, but voluntary societies, enjoying the privilege of calling persons to the bar by the permission of the judges-and that, unless in the case of a member refused a call to the


bar, when, as visiters, they might revise the decision of the benchers, or in casethe system of exclusion were carried so far as not to call a sufficient number of persons to the bar to transact the public business conveniently, the judges had no right to interfere with the conduct of the benchers.

The way in which the benchers have exercised their powers may be ascertained, in some degree, from a few facts to be found in the evidence taken before the Common Law Commissioners. It appeared from the examination of Mr. Thomas Lane, steward of , that from to upwards of a gentlemen were admitted members of the society every year, while the average number of calls to the bar was in the course of a year. He had held the office of steward for years, and remembered only rejection of an applicant for admission, and of persons applying to be called to the bar. Both the gentlemen rejected were afterwards called to the bar. of them was an editor of a newspaper, and was rejected upon the ground of having been convicted of a libel. Neither Mr. Burrell the treasurer, nor Mr. Griffith the steward of , were aware of any refusals of admission into the society to which they belong. Mr. Griffith stated that individual had been refused admission to the bar because he was an uncertificated bankrupt. He appealed to the judges, and was heard by his counsel, Mr. Denman, but the judges sanctioned the refusal of the benchers. Mr. James Gardiner stated that persons had been refused admission to the Inner Temple since he was under-treasurer. was refused because he had been in trade, was a bankrupt, and did not intend to be called to the bar; another because he did not intend to be called to the bar, and was a barrister's clerk. Mr. Gardiner mentioned cases which occurred in his predecessor's time. of them was a person who had stolen papers from an attorney's office, and the other was this person's brother.

The Irish Inns of Court were established after the model of the English Inns, on the establishment of courts of justice in Dublin. By an old statute, Irish students must keep terms in of the English Inns, as well as in the King's Inns, Dublin, before they can be called to the Irish bar. The original intention of this statute was to cultivate English habits and associations, as well as to enable them to observe the working of the law in the courts at . It is complained of as a grievance. Irish students may keep terms in London and Dublin alternately, or in any other order they think proper. is the resort of the generality of Irish students, it being by far the most convenient to them, not only on account of the facility of keeping terms there, but also that of admission; for they are not required at this Inn to have their entrance document signed by barristers, or to procure housekeepers to enter into a bond. It will suffice if any other student or member of the Inn sign both. There is also no charge made for absent commons, as in .


[n.371.2] Stow's Survey.

[n.382.1] By an oversight, the number of terms to be kept was stated as twenty, in the preceding Number.