Inns of Court and Chancery. 121

Inns of Court and Chancery.

to be advanced to the Places of Serjeants. Out of which Number of Serjeants also, the void Places of Judges are likewise ordinarily filled. Albeit now and then some be advanced by the special Favour of the Prince, to the Estate, Dignity and Place both of Serjeant and Judge, as it were in one Instant. But from thenceforth they hold not any Room in those Inns of Court; being translated to one of the said two Inns, called Serjeants Inns; where none but the Serjeants and Judges do converse.



It hath not been allowed, that the Study of the Law should be in any other Places, but at these Inns of Court. Once there were some Schools set up in the City, for Reading and Teaching the Laws: But the King thought fit to have them restrained by Proclamation; as appears by this Record about the 28th of Henry III. as it seems.

Schools of Law set up in London, but forbid.

J. S.

"Mandatum est Maiori, & Vicecomit. London, &c."

"Commandment is given to the Maior and Sheriffs of London, That they cause Proclamation to be made thro' the whole City, and firmly to be forbid, That no one should set up Schools of the Laws in the said City, and teach the Laws there for the Time to come. And if any shall set up such Schools there, they cause them to cease without Delay. Witness the King at Basing, Decemb. 11." ]

These Houses are called Inns; being the old English word for Houses of Noblemen, and which is of the same Signification with the French word Hostel at Paris.

Why called Inns.

R. B.

The Inns of CHANCERY were probably so called, because (for the most part) they consisted of such Clerks as did chiefly study the forming of Writs, which belonged to the Cursitors, that are Officers of Chancery: and are now taken up by Attorneys, Sollicitors, and such as belong to the Courts of Common-Pleas, and King's-Bench: But formerly were preparatory Houses for younger Students, as well as for the forming of Writs as aforesaid: And many were entred here, before they were admitted to the Inns of Court; as some are at this Day.

Inns of Chancery, why so called.

The Inns of COURT were so named, as some say, because the Students therein are to serve the Courts of Judicature; or else because these Houses anciently received the Sons of Noblemen, and the better Sort of Gentlemen: And this Fortescue affirms.

Inns of Court, why so called.

These Societies are no Corporations, nor have any Judicial Power over their Members; but have certain Orders amongst themselves, which by Consent have the Force of Laws. For slight Offences they are only excommoned, that is, put out of Commons; which is, not to eat with the rest in their Halls: And for greater, they lose their Chambers, and are expelled the House. And being once expelled, they are not to be admitted by any of the other Three Societies.

No Corporations; but have Orders among themselves.

The Members, when they meet at Chapel, or at their Hall, or go to any of the Courts of Judicature, wear a grave black Robe or Gown, and a Cap; but at other Times, the Habit of the Gentry.

Their Habit.

These Societies have no Lands or Revenues, except their House; nor have they any thing to defray the Charges of the House, but what is paid at Admittances, and Quit Rents for their Chambers, with the Purchase Money for Chambers, when any fall to the House.

No Revenues belonging.

The Gentlemen in these Societies may be divided into Four Ranks: 1. Benchers. 2. Utter Barristers. 3. Inner Barristers: And, 4. Students.

Four Ranks.

BENCHERS are the Seniors, to whom the Government of the House, and Ordering the Matters thereof, is committed: And out of these a Treasurer is yearly chosen; who receiveth, disburseth and accounteth for all Monies belonging to the House.


UTTER BARRISTERS are such, as from their Learning and Standing are called by the Benchers, to plead and argue in the Society doubtful Cases and Questions; which are called Moots: And whilst they argue the said Cases, they set uttermost on the Forms of the Benchers, which they call the Bar. Out of these Mootmen are chosen Readers for the Inns of Chancery, which belong to the Inns of Court, of which they are Members; where in Term Time, and Grand Vacations, they argue Cases in the Presence of Attorneys and Clerks.

Utter Barristers.



All the rest of the Society are accounted INNER BARRISTERS; who, for want of Learning or Time, are not to argue in these Moots: Yet, in a Moot before the Benchers, Two of these sitting upon the same Form with the Utter Barristers, do (for their Exercises) recite by heart the Pleading of the same Moot Case, in Law French; which Pleading is the Declaration of the said Moot Case at large; the one taking the Part of the Plaintiff, and the other of the Defendant.

Inner Barristers.

For the Times of these Mootings, they divide the Year into Three Parts; viz. 1. The Learning Vacation. 2. The Term Times. And, 3. The Dead, or Mean Vacation.

Times for Mooting.

They have Two Learning Vacations; viz. Lent Vacation, which begins the first Monday in Lent, and continues Three Weeks and Three Days; and Summer Vacation, which begins the Monday after Lammas Day, and continues also Three Weeks and Three Days. And in these Vacations are the greatest Conferences, and Exercises of Study.

The Manner of these Readings.


The Benchers appoint the eldest Utter-Barrister to read amongst them openly in the Hall; (of which he hath notice Half a Year before.) The first Day, he makes choice of some Act, or Statute, whereupon he grounds his whole Reading for that Vacation. He reciteth certain Doubts, and Questions which he hath devised upon the said Statute, and declares his Judgment thereon. After which, one of the Utter-Barristers repeateth one Question propounded by the Reader, and (by way of Argument) doth labour to prove the Reader's Opinion to be against Law. And after him, the Senior Utter-Barrister and Reader, one after another, do declare their Opinions and Judgments in the same. And then the Reader who did put the Case, endeavours to confute the Objections laid against him, and to confirm his own Opinion. After which, the Judges and Serjeants (if any be there) declare their Opinions. Then the youngest Utter-Barrister again rehearseth another Case, which is prosecuted as the former was. And this Exercise continueth daily three or four Hours.


The Manner of Reading, both in Lent and Summer Vacations, are performed after the same manner. And usually, out of these Readers the Serjeants are chosen.