The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 4

Allen, Thomas


Sergeants' Inn.


According to Sir Edward Coke, the order of sergeants at law is


upwards of years standing. We find mention made of them in a statute of the d Edward I. In the reign of Henry VIII. they were so numerous that of them received at time the honour of knighthood; and yet, in the following reign, the number had been so much diminished, by various casualties. that sergeant Benlowes described himself The degree of sergeant is the highest taken at the common law, as that of doctor is of the civil law. The call to it is by royal mandate, issued on the recommendation of the judges. The Court of Common Pleas is their peculiar sphere of practice; but they may and do plead in any of the courts. The judges are always selected from this body, the members of which they continue to distinguish by the friendly appellation of When a barrister is raised to the rank of a sergeant, he is sworn at the Chancery bar, to

well and truly serve the king's people; truly to counsel them after their cunning; not to defer or delay their causes willingly, for covet of money or other thing that may turn to their profit; and to give due attendance accordingly.

It was in ancient times customary for the whole body of sergeants to proceed on the day following the swearing in of a brother, in public procession to Westminster-hall, in order to present him to the judges of the different courts. And having had their coifs of white linen or silk put on without any black ones over, and being clothed in robes of colours, they walked to Westminster-hall, accompanied by a great number of gentlemen of the long robe, of several houses of court and chancery, the warden of the Fleet, Marshal, &c.; and attended by clerks, of each sergeants, immediately following him, &c.; also, by the stewards, butlers, and other servants to the houses, all bare-headed and clothed in short party-coloured vestments. On the appearance of the new sergeant the judges were wont to exclaim,

Methinks I see a brother.

The brother presented a ring, with his motto engraven on it, to each of their lordships, in token of his union to the fraternity. All the others serjeants had also rings given to them. When this ceremony was finished, the brotherhood returned sometimes to Ely House, at others to the Middle Temple Hall, where a grand feast was given on the occasion, to which the most distinguished personages in the state were invited. From the description of an entertainment of this sort, given in , at Ely House, they appear to have been at times of extraordinary magnificence. The feasting on this occasion, continued from Friday, the , till the following Tuesday.

On Monday, king Henry and queen Catherine of Arragon dined there in separate chambers, and the foreign ambassadors occupied a


apartment. In the great hall, sir Nicholas Lombard, mayor of London, the judges barons of the Exchequer, and the aldermen, presided at the king's table. On the south side sat the master of the rolls, the masters

in Chancery, and worshipful citizens. The north side of the hall was occupied by aldermen appointed to sit at the head, the rest filled by respectable merchants. In the cloisters, chapel, and gallery, were placed knights and gentlemen of lesser degree. The crafts of London were in other halls; whilst the sergeants and their ladies were in chambers appointed for their reception. The quantity of provision, on the occasion, resembled that for a coronation feast.

The presentation of the rings, and perhaps a private merrymaking, among the fraternity themselves, are now the only relics of these showy and expensive customs.

Sergeant's Inn, situated at the bottom of , consists of courts, of rather mean appearance. As formerly observed, it was anciently called Faryingdon's Inn, after the same person who gave name to the ward, in which it is situated. The hall is neat and commodious; and its windows are filled with the armorial bearings of various members of the fraternity. It has several portraits, and on the front is the date of erection, .

The ARMS of SERGEANT'S INN, , are Or, a stork proper.


[] Vide ante vol . i. p. 215.

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 Title Page
CHAPTER I: Site, local divisions, and government of the City of Westminster; history of the Abbey; Coronation Ceremonies; and lists of the Abbots and Deans
CHAPTER II: Westminster Abbey, and Description of the Tombs and Monuments
CHAPTER III: History and Topography of St. Margaret's Parish
CHAPTER IV: History and Topography of St. John's Parish, Westminster
CHAPTER V: History and Topography of the parish of St. Martin's in the Fields, Westminster
CHAPTER VI: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. James, Westminster
CHAPTER VII: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Anne, Westminster
CHAPTER VIII: History and Topography of the parish of St. Paul, Covent Garden
CHAPTER IX: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Mary-le-strand
CHAPTER X: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. Clement Danes
CHAPTER XI: History and Topography of the parish of st. George, Hanover Square
CHAPTER XII: History and Topography of the Precinct of the Savoy
CHAPTER XIII: History and Topography of the Inns of Court
CHAPTER XIV: History and Topography of the Precincts of the Charter-house and Ely Place, and the Liberty of the Rolls
 CHAPTER XV: Historical Notices of the Borough of Southwark
CHAPTER XVI: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Olave, Southwark
CHAPTER XVII: History and Topography of the parish of St. John, Southwark
CHAPTER XVIII: History and Topography of the parish of St. Thomas, Southwark
CHAPTER XIX: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. George's, Southwark
CHAPTER XX: History and Topography of St. Saviour's Parish
CHAPTER XXI: History and Topography of the parist of Christ-church in the County of Surrey
 CHAPTER XXII: A List of the Principal Books, &c that have been published in Illustration of the Antiquities, History, Topography, and other subjects treated of in this Work
 Addenda et Corrigienda