1902 Encyclopedia > Inns of Court

Inns of Court




INNS OF COURT. The Inns of Court and Chancery are voluntary non-corporate legal societies seated in London, having their origin about the end of the 13th and the commencement of the 14th century.

Dugdale (Origines Juridiciales) states that the learned in our laws were anciently persons in holy orders, the justices of the king's court being bishops, abbots, and the like. But in 1207 the clergy were prohibited by canon from acting in the temporal courts. The result proving prejudicial to the interests of the community, a commission of inquiry was issued by Edward I. (1290), and this was followed up (1292) by a second commission, which among other things directed that students " apt and eager " should be brought from the provinces and placed in proximity to the courts of law now fixed by Magna Charta at West-minster. These students were accordingly located in what became known as the Inns of Court and Chancery, the latter designated by Fortescue (De Lavdibm) as " the ear-liest settled places for students of the law," the germ of what Sir Edward Coke subsequently spoke of as our English juridical university. In these Inns of Court and Chancery, thus constituted, and corresponding to the ordinary college, the students, according to Fortescue, not only studied the laws and divinity, but further learned to dance, sing, and play instrumental music, " so that these hostels, being nurseries or seminaries of the court, were therefore called Inns of Court."

Stow in his Survey (1598) says: "There is in and about this city a whole university, as it were, of students, practisers or pleaders, and judges of the laws of this realm;" and he goes on to enumerate the several societies, fourteen in number, then existing, corresponding nearly with those recognized in the present day, of which the Inns of Court, properly so-called, are and always have been four, namely, Lincoln's Inn, with the subordinate Inns of Chancery, Furnival's Inn and Thavie's Inn; the Inner Temple, with Clifford's Inn and Clement's Inn; the Middle Temple, with New Inn; and Gray's Inn, with Staple's Inn and Barnard's Inn. In addition to these may be specified Serjeant's Inn, a society composed solely of serjeants-at-law, which, however, ceased to exist in 1877. Besides the Inns of Chancery above enumerated, there were others, such as Lyon's Inn, which was pulled down as recently as 1868, and Scrope's Inn and Chester or Strand Inn, spoken of by Stow, which have long been removed, and the societies to which they belonged have disappeared. The four Inns of Court stand on a footing of complete equality, no priority being conceded to or claimed by one inn over another. Their jurisdictions and privileges are equal, and upon affairs of common interest the benchers of the four inns meet in conference. From the earliest times there has been an interchange of fellowship between the four houses ; nevertheless the Middle Temple and Lincoln's Inn, and the Inner Temple and Gray's Inn. have main-tained a closer alliance.

The members of an Inn of Court consist of benchers, barristers, and students. The benchers are the governing bodies of the inns, and are composed of the senior members, designated also more formally " masters of the bench." They are self-elected, and unrestricted as to numbers ; usually, but not invariably, a member of an inn, on attaining the rank of queen's counsel, is invited to the bench. Other members of long standing are also occasionally chosen, but no member by becoming a queen's counsel or by seniority of standing acquires the right of being nominated a bencher. The benchers thus elected vary in number from twenty in Gray's Inn to seventy and upwards in Lincoln's Inn and the Inner Temple. The powers of the benchers are practically without limit within their respective societies ; their duties, how-ever, are restricted to the superintendence and management of the concerns of the inn, the admission of candidates as students, the calling of them to the bar, and the exercise of discipline generally over the members. The judges of the superior courts are the visitors of the inns, and to them alone can an appeal be had when either of the societies refuses to call a member to the bar, or to reinstate in his privileges a barrister who has been dis-barred for professional or other misconduct. The meetings of the benchers are variously denominated a " parliament" in the Inner and Middle Temples, a " pension " in Gray's Inn, and a " council" in Lincoln's Inn. The presiding or chief officer is the treasurer, one of the benchers, who is elected annually to that dignity. Other benchers fulfil the duties of master of the library, master of the walks or gardens, dean of the chapel, and so forth, while others are readers, whose functions are referred to below. Under the term barrister are included generally all those members of an Inn of Court who, after due probation, and being at least twenty-one years of age, have been called to that rank by the benchers of the inn of which they have been students. For a notice of these the reader is referred to the article BABBISTEES (vol. iii. p. 394), but some further details respecting their connexion with these societies may be fitly given here. Each inn confers this status or degree on its own members only. The grade of barrister comprehends the attorney-general and solicitor-general (appointed by and holding office solely at the will of the Government of the day), who rank as the heads of the profession, queen's counsel, and ordinary practitioner^ sometimes technically known as "utter barristers." There is also the practitioner " below the bar," the lowest in the ranks of the forensic hierarchy, who limits his practice to those special branches of the law designated pleading and conveyancing, and is precluded by the fact of his not having been "called" from appearing in court.

The usages of the different inns varied somewhat formerly in regard both to the term of probationary studentship enforced and to the procedure involved in a call to the bar. In the present day complete uniformity is observed in all respects, the entrance examination, the course of study, and the examinations required to be passed on the completion of the curriculum bsing identical and common to all the inns alike. When once called to the bar, the barrister is left to follow his own will in regard to entering into active practice or with respect to the special branch of the law he may elect to pursue, no hindrance beyond professional etiquette limiting his freedom of action in any way; so also members may on application to the benchers, and on payment of arrears of dues (if any), leave the society to which they belong, and thus cease altogether to be members of the bar likewise. Barristers rank as esquires, and are privileged from arrest whilst in attend-ance on the superior courts and on circuit, and also from serving on juries. They enjoy unfettered freedom of speech, though this confers no right to utter slander. On the other hand, a barrister has no legal remedy for the recovery of his fees, and it is not competent for him to enter into any contract for payment by his client with respect to litigation. A member of an Inn of Court re-tains his name on the lists of his inn for life by means of a small annual payment varying from ¿£1 to £5, which at one or two of the inns is now compounded for by a fixed sum taken at the call to the bar. A distinctive dress is worn by barristers when attending the courts, consisting of a stuff-gown, exchanged for one of silk when the wearer has attained the rank of queen's counsel, both classes also having wigs dating in pattern and material from the 18th century. Those who practise below the bar as pleaders or conveyancers are under the necessity of taking out a certificate, which is granted for one year only, but is renew-able, and is subject to a small payment. This certificate is issued by the benchers of the Inn of Court of which the practitioner is a member, and is given to those only who are qualified to be called to the bar.
During the reign of Edward III. the Inns of Court and Chancery, based on the collegiate principle, prospered under the supervision and protection of the crown. In 1381 Wat Tyler invaded the Temple, and in the succeed-ing century (1450) Jack Cade meditated pulling down the Inns of Court and killing the lawyers. It would appear, moreover, that the inmates of the inns were themselves at times disorderly and in conflict with the citizens. Fortescue (circa 1464) describing these societies thus speaks of them: " There belong to the law ten lesser inns, which are called the Inns of Chancery, in each of which there are one hundred students at least, and in some a far greater number, though not constantly residing. After the students have made some progress here they are admitted to the Inns of Court. Of these there are four, in the least frequented of which there are about two hundred students. The discipline is excellent, and the mode of study well adapted for proficiency." This curriculum had probably existed for two centuries before Fortescue wrote, and continued to be enforced certainly down to the time of Sir Thomas More (1498) and of Chief Justice Dyer (1537), and yet later to that of Sir Edward Coke (1571). From this time, however, the attorneys were gradually closing the doors of the Inns of Chancery against students for the bar; and these preparatory schools of law, once the stepping stones to the Inns of Court (who directed their studies), have long since severed their relations with the bar and with legal education, and are now of no account whatever in connexion with the law, their members being chiefly, though not entirely, solicitors meeting solely for convivial purposes. By the time of Sir Matthew Hale (1629) the custom for law students to be first entered to an Inn of Chancery before being admitted to an Inn of Court had become obsolete, and thenceforth the Inns of Chancery have been entirely abandoned to the attorneys. Stow in his Survey succinctly points out the course of reading enforced at the end of the 16th century. He says that the Inns of Court were replenished partly by students coming from the Inns of Chancery, who went thither from the univer-sities and sometimes immediately from grammar schools ; and, having spent some time in studying the first elements of the law, and having performed the exercises called " bolts," " moots," and " putting of cases," they proceeded to be admitted to, and become students in, one of the Inns of Court. Here continuing for the space of seven years or thereabouts, they frequented readings and other learned exercises, whereby, growing ripe in the knowledge of the laws, they were, by the general consent either of the benchers or of the readers (who down to 1664 enjoyed a special privilege in this respect), called to the degree of barrister, and so enabled to practise in chambers and at the bar. There is thus abundant evidence that ample provision for legal study was formerly made, and that this continued with more or less vigour down to nearly the commencement of the 18th century. A languor similar to that which affected the church and the universities then gradually supervened, until the fulfilment of the merest forms sufficed to confer the dignity of advocate and pleader. This was maintained until recent years, when (from 1845) the necessity for suitable training of young men aspiring to forensic honours has again become recognized, and steps have been taken for reviving and extending the ancient discipline and course of study, bringing them into harmony with modern ideas and requirements.

In the present day the four Inns of Court have combined in framing and enforcing regulations having for their end a preliminary or matriculation examination prior to admission to an inn, the keeping of terms, the attendance at lectures and private classes, and finally an examination preparatory to the call to the bar, which, as at the universities, is divided into an honour and a simple pass examination, the former carrying with it certain studentships of some pecuniary value and certificates of honour. The scope of the examinations is tolerably wide, and includes juris-prudence (with international law, public and private), the Roman civil law, constitutional law and legal history, common law, equity, the law of real and personal property, and criminal law. These studies, and the examinations consequent upon them, are superintended and controlled by a council of legal education consisting of twenty benchers nominated in equal numbers by each inn, and by a per-manent committee of education and examination consisting of eight members, appointed by and taken from the council itself. A body of examiners has been likewise constituted, whose payment, together with the attendant expenses of the council, is provided for by annual contributions, in certain fixed proportions, made by the four inns. The arrangements in force would appear, however, to be regarded as tentative only, several attempts having been made to carry out a more systematic scheme of education, to be developed eventually into a regular legal university. The assistance of the legislature to this end has even been sought, but as yet without result, in the shape of a statutory enactment. The fees payable at the different inns vary from £136, lis. lOd. at Gray's Inn to £154, Is. 3d. at the Middle Temple. These sums cover all expenses from admission to an inn to the call to the bar, but the addition of tutorial and other expenses may augment the cost of a barrister's legal education to £400 or £500. The period of study prior to call has now become limited to twelve terms, equivalent to about three years. In the case of solicitors, however, the regulations have been altered in 1881 so as to enable them to be called after the lapse of one year.





It has been seen that the studies pursued in ancient times were conducted by means of " readings," " moots," and " bolts," The readings were from the very first deemed of vital importance, and were delivered in the halls with much ceremony; they were frequently regarded as authori-ties and cited as such at Westminster in argument. Some statute or section of a statute was selected for analysis and explanation, and its relation to the common law pointed out. Many of these readings, dating back to Edward I., are extant, and well illustrate the importance of the subjects and the exhaustive and learned manner in which they were treated by the able, experienced men upon whom this duty was cast. The function of " reader " involved the holder in very weighty expenses, chiefly by reason of the profuse hospitality dispensed,'—a constant and splendid table being kept during the three weeks and three days over which the readings extended, to which were invited the nobility, judges, bishops, the officers of state, and sometimes the king himself. In 1C88 the readers were paid £200 for their reading, but by that time the office had become a sinecure. In the present day the readership is purely honorary and without duties. The privilege formerly assumed by the reader of calling to the bar was taken away in 1664 by an order of the lord chancellor and the judges. Moots were exercises of the nature of formal arguments on points of law raised by the students and conducted with much care under the supervision of a bencher and two barristers sitting as judges in the halls of the inns. Bolts were of an analogous character, though deemed inferior to aioots. Both had fallen into complete desuetude until lately, when the society of Gray's Inn has revived mootings, it is understood with some success.

In the early history of the inns discrimination was exer-cised in regard to the social status of candidates for admission to them. Feme, a writer of the 16th century, referred to by Dugdale, states that none were admitted into the houses of court except they were gentlemen of blood. So also Pliny, writing in the 1st century of the Christian era (Letters, ii. 14), says that before his day young men even of the highest families of Rome were not ad-mitted to practice except upon the introduction of some man of consular rank. But he goes on to add that all barriers were then broken down, everything being open to everybody,—a remarkquite applicable to the bar of England and elsewhere in the present day. It may here be noted that no dignity or title confers any rank at the bar. A privy councillor, a peer's son, a baronet, the speaker of the House of Commons, or a knight,—all rank at the bar merely according to their legal precedence. Formerly orders were frequently issued both by the benchers and by the crown on the subject of the dress, manners, morals, and religious observances of students and members. No such interference with the liberty of the subject is now recognized in the inns of court; and, although there is some semblance of a collegiate discipline maintained, this is re-stricted to the dining in hall, where many ancient usages survive, and to the closing of the gates of the inns at night.

Each inn maintains a chapel, with the accompaniment of preachers and other clergy, the services being those of the Church of England. The Inner and the Middle Temple have joint use of the Temple church, a fabric of high antiquity and much dignity. The chapels of Lincoln's Inn and Gray's Inn are also very interesting. The office of preacher is usually filled by an ecclesiastic of learning and repute chosen by the benchers. The principal functionary of this rank in connexion with the Temple church is, however, constituted by letters patent by the crown without episcopal institution or induction, enjoying, nevertheless, no authority independently of the benchers. He bears the title of Master of the Temple.

It has already been stated, on the authority of Fortescue, that the students of the Inns of Court learned to dance, sing, and play instrumental music; and those accomplish-ments found expression no doubt in the " masques" and " revels" for which the societies formerly distinguished themselves, especially the Inner Temple and Gray's Inn. These entertainments were of great antiquity and much magnificence, involving very considerable expense. Evelyn { Diary) speaks of the revels at the Middle Temple as an old and riotous custom, having relation neither to virtue nor to policy. The last revel appears to have been held at the Inner Temple in 1734, to mark the occasion of the elevation of Lord Chancellor Talbot to the woolsack. The plays and masques performed were sometimes repeated elsewhere than in the hall of the inn, especially before the sovereign at court. A master of the revels was appointed, commonly designated Lord of Misrule, whose authority in making the necessary arrangements was paramount. Abundant infor-mation as to the scope and nature of these entertainments has come down to us : one of the festivals is minutely described by Gerard Leigh in his Accedence of Armorie, 1612; and a tradition ascribes the first performance of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night to a revel held in the Middle Temple hall in February 1601. At the present day no entertainments are given; excepting on very rare occasions, the hospitality of the inns has ceased to find expression save in the " Grand Day" held once in each of the four terms, when it is customary for the judges and other dis-tinguished visitors to dine with the benchers (who sit apart from the barristers and students on a dais in some state), and "Readers' Feasts," on both which occasions extra com-mons and wine are served to the members attending.

The Inner and the Middle Temple, so far as their history can be traced back, have always been separate societies. Fortescue, writing between 1461 and 1470, makes no allusion to a previous junction of the two inns. Dugdale (1671) speaks of the Temple as one society, and states that the students so increased in number that at length they divided into two bodies, becoming the Inner and Middle Temple respectively. He does not, however, give any authority for this statement, or furnish the date of the division. The first reliable mention of the Temple as an inn of court is to be found in the Paston Letters, where, under date November 1440, the Inner Temple is spoken of as a college, as is also subsequently the Middle Temple. The Temple, as the name would serve to indicate, was the seat iu England of the famous monastic order known as the Knights Templars, on whose suppression in 1312 it passed with other of their possessions to the crown, and after an interval of some years to the Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem, who in the reign of Edward III. demised the mansion and its surroundings to certain professors of the common law who came from Thavie's Inn. Notwithstanding the destruction of the muniments of the Temple by fire or by popular commotion, sufficient testimony is attainable to show that in the reigns of Edward III. and Richard II. the Temple had become the residence of the legal communities which have since maintained there a permanent footing. The two societies continued as tenants to the Knights Hospitallers of St John until the dissolution of the order in 1539 ; they then became the lessees of the crown, and so remained until 1609, when James I. made a grant by letters patent of the premises in perpetuity to the benchers of the respective societies on a yearly payment by each of £10, a payment which has long ceased to be made, having been bought up in the reign of Charles II. In this grant the two inns are described as "the Inner and the Middle Temple or New Temple," and as " being two out of those four colleges the most famous of all Europe " for the study of the law. Excepting the church, nothing now remains of the edifices belonging to the Knights Templars, the present buildings having been almost wholly erected since the reign of Queen Elizabeth or since the Great Fire, in which the major part of the Inner Temple perished. The church, a noble structure, has been in the joint occupation of the Inner and Middle Temple from time immemorial,—the former taking the southern and the latter the northern half. The round portion of the church was consecrated in 1185, the nave or choir in 1240. It is the largest and most com-plete of the four remaining round churches in England, and is built on the plan of the church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. Narrowdy escaping the ravages of the fire of 1666, this beautiful building remains to this day one of the most perfect specimens of early Gothic architecture in England, and is maintained in the highest order in respect not merely to the edifice itself but to the services conducted within its walls. In former times the lawyers awaited their clients for consultation in the Round Church, as similarly the serjeants-at-law were accustomed to resort to St Paul's Cathedral, where each Serjeant had a pillar assigned him.

The Inner Temple, comprehending a hall, parliament chamber, library, and other buildings, occupies the site of the ancient mansion of the Knights Templars, built about the year 1240, and has from time to time been more or less re-erected and extended, the most recent changes in this direction dating from 1870, when the present handsome range of buildings, including a new dining hall, was com-pleted. The library owes its existence to "William Retyt, keeper of the Tower Records in the time of Queen Anne, who was also a benefactor to the library of the Middle Temple. The greatest addition by gift was made by the Baron Maseres in 1825. The number of volumes now in the library is 30,000, arranged in suit-able rooms adjoining the hall. Of the Inns of Chancery belonging to the Inner Temple Clifford's Inn was anciently the town residence of the Barons Clifford, and was demised in 1345 to a body of students of the law. Clement's Inn was an Inn of Chancery before the reign of Edward IV., taking its name from the parish church of St Clement Danes, to which it had formerly belonged.

The Middle Temple possesses in its hall one of the most stately and interesting of existing Elizabethan structures. Commenced in 1562, under the auspices of the learned Plowden, then treasurer, it was not completed until 1572, the richly carved screen at the east end in the style of the Renaissance being put up three years later, in 1575. The idea long commonly received that the screen was constructed of timber taken from ships of the Spanish Armada (1588) is therefore baseless. The noble edifice, which through many vicissi-tudes of fire and popular tumult has been preserved unaltered to the present day, has been the scene of numerous historic incidents, notably the entertainments given within its walls to regal and other personages from Queen Elizabeth downwards. The library, which now contains 28,000 volumes, dates its origin from 1641, when Robert Ashley, a member of the society, bequeathed his collection of books in all classes of literature to the inn, together with a large sum of money ; other benefactors were Ashmole (the antiquary), "William Petyt (a benefactor of the Inner Temple), and Lord Stowell. From 1711 to 1826 the library was greatly neglected; few works were added either by presentation or purchase, and many of the most scarce and valuable were lost. The present handsome library building, which stands apart from the hall, was completed in 1861, the Prince of Wales attending the inauguration ceremony on October 31st of that year, and becoming a member and bencher of the society on the occasion. The MSS. in the collection are few in number, and of no special value. In civil, canon, and inter-national law, as also in divinity and ecclesiastical history, the library is very rich ; it contains also some curious works on witch-craft and demonology. There is but one Inn of Chancery connected with the Middle Temple, that of New Inn, which, according to Dugdale, was formed by a society of students previously settled at St George's Inn, situated near St Sepulchre's Church without New-gate ; but the date of this transfer is not known.





Lincoln's Inn stands on the site partly of an episcopal palace erected in the time of Henry III. by Ralph Nevill, bishop of Chi-chester and chancellor of England, and partly of a religious house, called Black Friars House, in Holborn. In the reign of Edward II., Henry Lacy, earl of Lincoln, possessed the place, which from him acquired the name of Lincoln's Inn, probably becoming an Inn ot Court soon after his death (in 1310), though of its existence as a place of legal study there is little authentic record until the time of Henry VI. (1424), to which date the existing muniments reach back. The fee simple of the inn would appear, however, to have remained vested in the see of Chichester ; and it was not until 1580 that the society which for centuries had occupied the inn as tenants acquired the absolute ownership of it. The old hall, built about 1506, still remains (and is temporarily used as one of the courts of the High Court of Justice), but has given place to a modern structure designed by Philip Hardwick, R. A., which, along with the buildings containing the library, was completed in 1845, the Queen attending the inauguration ceremony (October 13). The chapel, built after the designs of Inigo Jones, was consecrated in 1623. The library—as a collection of lawbooks the most complete in the country—owes its foundation to a bequest of John Nethersale, a member of the society, in 1497, and is the oldest of the existing libraries in the metropolis. Various entries in the records of the inn relate to the library, and notably in 1608, when an effort was made to extend the collection, and the first appoint-ment of a master of the library (an office now held in annual rota-tion by each bencher) was made. The library has been much enriched by donations and by the acquisition by purchase of collec-tions of books on special subjects. It includes also an extensive and valuable series of MSS., the whole comprehending 43,000 volumes. The Inns of Chancery affiliated to Lincoln's Inn are Thavie's Inn and Furnival's Inn. Thavie's Inn was a residence of students of the law in the time of Edward III., and is mentioned by Fortescue as having been one of the lesser houses of Lincoln's Inn for some centuries. It thus continued down to 1769, when the inn was sold by the benchers, and thenceforth it ceased to have any character as a place of legal education. FurnivaVs Inn became the resort of students about the year 1406, and was purchased by the society of Lincoln's Inn in 1547. In 1817 the inn was rebuilt, but from that date it has ceased to exist as a legal community.

There is no reason to suppose that Gray's Inn is of less anti-quity than the other Inns of Court. The exact date of its be-coming the residence of lawyers is not known, though it was so occupied before the year 1370, and there is abundant evidence of its existence as an Inn of Court after that date. The inn stands upon the site of the manor of Portpoole, belonging in ancient times to the dean and chapter of St Paul's, but subsequently the property of the noble family of Grey de "Wilton and eventually of the crown, from which a grant of the manor or inn was obtained, many years since discharged from any rent or payment. The hall of the inn is of handsome design, similar to the Middle Temple hall in its general character and arrangements, and was completed about the year 1560. The chapel, of much earlier date than the hall, has, notwithstanding its antiquity, but little now to recommend it to notice, being small and insignificant, and lacking architectural featuresof any kind. The library, including about 13,000 volumes, contains a small but important collection of MSS. and missals, and also some valuable works on divinity. Little is known of the origin or early history of the library, though mention is incidentally made of it in the society's records in the 16th and 17th centuries. The gardens, laid out about 1597, it is believed under the auspices of the lord chancellor Bacon, at that time treasurer of the society, continue to this day as then planned, though with some curtailment owing to the erection of additional buildings in recent years.

Among many curious customs maintained in this inn is that of drinking a toast on grand days "to the glorious, pious, and immortal memory of Queen Elizabeth." Of the special circum-stances originating this display of loyalty there is no record. The Inns of Chancery connected with.Gray's Inn are Staple's and Barnard's Inns. Staple's Inn was an Inn of Chancery in the reign of Henry V., and is probably of yet earlier date. Readings and moots were observed here with regularity. Sir Simonds d'Ewes mentions attending a moot in February 1624. Barnard's Inn, anciently designated Mackworth Inn, was an Inn of Chancery in the reign of Henry VI. It was then and still is held of the dean and chapter of Lincoln, to whom a fine of £1400 is payable every fourteen years.

The King's Inns, Dublin, the legal school in Ireland, corresponds closely to the English Inns of Court, and is in many respects in unison with them in its regulations with regard to the admission of students into the society, and to the degree of barrister-at-law, as also in the scope of the examinations enforced, though no final examination is now required for call to the bar. Of the twelve terms required to be kept, however, by a student, four must be spent at an Inn of Court in London, admission to which is obtained in the usual manner, but exempt from stamp duty, on the certificate of the under treasurer that such duty has been paid in Ireland. Until lately two years were required to be thus passed in London,—the stipulation dating as far back as 1542 (33 Henry VIII. c. 3). Down to 1866 the course of education pursued at the King's Inns differed from the English Inns of Court in that candidates for admission to the legal profession as attorneys and solicitors carried on their studies with those aspiring to the higher grade of the bar in the same building under a professor specially appointed for this purpose,—herein following the usage anciently prevailing in the Inns of Chancery in London, which, as has already been stated, has long since fallen into desuetude. This arrangement was put an end to by the statute 29 & 30 Vict. c. 84. The origin of the King's Inns may be traced back to the reign of Edward I., when a legal society designated Collett's Inn was established; but, being situated without the walls of the city, the inn was destroyed by an insurrectionary band. In the reign of Edward III. Sir Eobert Preston, chief baron of the exchequer, gave up his residence within the city to the legal body, which then took the name of Preston's Inn, where for two centuries the study of the law was pursued and a collegiate discipline maintained. In 1542 the land and buildings known as Preston s Inn were restored to the family of the original donor, and in the same year Henry VIII. granted the monastery of Friars Preachers for the use of the professors of the law in Ireland. In consequence of this grant the legal body removed to the new site, and thenceforward were known by the name of the King's Inns. Possession of this property having been resumed by the Government in the middle of the last century (1742), and the present Four Courts erected thereon, a large space of ground at the top of Henrietta Street was purchased by the society, and the existing hall built in the year 1800. The library, numbering over 50,000 volumes, with a few MSS., is housed in buildings specially provided in the year 1831, and is open, not only to the members of the society, but also to strangers upon proper introduction. The collection is not entirely legal, but comprises all kinds of literature. It is based principally upon a purchase made in 1787 of the large and valuable library of Mr Justice Eobinson, and is maintained chiefly by an annual payment made from the Consolidated Fund to the society in lieu of the right to receive copyright works which was conferred by the Act of 1801 (41 George III. c. 107), but abrogated in 1836 (6 & 7 Will. IV. c. 107), In discipline and professional etiquette the members of the bar in Ireland differ but little from their English brethren. The same style of costume is enforced, the same gradations of rank—attorney-general, solicitor-general, queen's counsel, and ordi-nary barristers—being found. There are also serjeants-at-law limited, however, to three in number, and designated 1st, 2d, and 3d Serjeant; and, unlike their English brethren, these are not as yet in course of extinction. The King's Inns do not provide chambers for business purposes ; there is consequently no aggregation of counsel in certain locali-ties, as is the case in London in the Inns of Court and their immediate vicinity.

The corporation known as the Faculty of Advocates in Edinburgh corresponds with the Inns of Court in London and the King's Inns in Dublin (see ADVOCATE, vol. i. p. 178). The constitution of the faculty differs in many respects, however, from the English and Irish societies. There is no resemblance to the quasi-collegiate discipline and the usages and customs prevailing in an Inn of Court. There is no governing body similar to the benchers. The president is elected by general vote of the whole body of the advocates, and is designated dean of faculty. Until a recent date no precedence excepting that of the lord advocate (who performs many of the duties of the attorney-general in England), the dean of faculty, and the solicitor-general was recognized. Now these officers and the ex-law-officers of the crown obtain patents as queen's counsel. The faculty is possessed of a hall and extensive library build-ings situated beneath and adjoining the Parliament House, which have been much added to in the present century. The body regulates all matters connected with admission to its ranks.

Advocates are not required to pass any portion of their studentship in London, as is the case with members of the Irish inn. On the other hand, advocates of the Scottish bar desiring to change the scene of their professional labours to the English metropolis derive no advantage as such (excepting when pleading in appeals at the bar of the House of Lords and in cases before the judicial committee of the privy council), but have to pass through the ordinary curriculum of the English student before acquiring the necessary status ; and in like manner an English or Irish barrister seeking admission to the Scottish bar must go through the course prescribed by the faculty.

Authorities.—Fortescue, Be Laudibus LegumAnglise, by A. Amos, 1825 ; Dugdale, Origines Juridiciales, 2d ed., 1671 ; Foss, Judges of England, 1848-64, 9 vols.; Herbert, Antiquities of the Inns of Court, 1804 ; Pearce, History of the Inns of Court, 1848 ; Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the Inns of Court and Chancery, 1855 ; Ball, Student's Guide to the Bar, 1878 ; Stow, Survey of London and Westminster, by Strype, 1754-5 ; Nichols, Progresses of Elizabeth and James I.; Lane, Student's Guide through Lincoln's Inn, 2d ed., 1805 ; Spilsbury, Lincoln's Inn, with an Account of the Library, 2d ed., 1873 ; Douthwaite, Notes illustrative of (he History and Antiquities of Gray's Inn, 1876 ; Paston Letters, 1872 ; Law Magazine, 1859-60 ; Quarterly Revieto, October 1871 ; Cowel, Law Dictionary, 1727 ; Duhigg, History of the King's Inns in Ireland, 1806 ; Mackay, Practice of the Court of Session, 1879. (J. C. W.)




Search the Encyclopedia:



About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Sitemaps
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us



© 2005-17 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries