These are extracts from

A CALENDAR OF THE INNER TEMPLE RECORDS, VOL. I., 21 HEN. VII. (1505)—45 ELIZ. (1603), which was edited by F. A. Inderwick, Q.C. (“ONE OF THE MASTERS OF THE BENCH”).


I have eschewed reproducing the title page of volume one here with either an image or with precise formatting, for reasons of expedience: elsewhere, I have used a general approximation where extracts are shown, mainly for the sake of aesthetic appearance in the particular page. The extracts from volume one introduction are shown here in alphabetical category order, rather than strict page order, so their significance to the other pages on my site that make reference to volumes one and two of the Calendar should be approximately equally weighted. There might be some repetition here of information that is given in the source notes for each of my pages, for which I readily apologise, but I would rather give the information twice than not at all. I have personally found a reading of this document fascinating and, given the somewhat arcane terminology of a world that can seem remote to many people, I would like to think that this background information will be more than merely superficially informative to most visitors to my site, especially if it is read in conjunction with the Notable Risdons, Thomas Risdon 1, Philip Risdon Jnr and Thomas Risdon Jnr pages, to supplement the source notes for each page. It can just as readily be ‘dipped in and out of’ as necessarily read as a contiguous whole. In addition to references to specific family members, it can probably quite safely be assumed that descriptions of life at the Inner Temple applied to all of them. Click on a link below to go to the appropriate section.

The Buildings and Gardens


The buildings of the Inn were of brick. But the chambers were so few in comparison with the number of applicants, that two barristers commonly divided a set between them, and it was the practice, even in the case of the most distinguished members of the bench, to assign their sons, brothers, or personal friends to lie in the same chamber with them. The emblem of the two Templars on the same horse thus became typical of the Inn, which had hardly a chamber in its precincts not tenanted by at least two of its members.1


In addition to the garden going down to the river, which was partly bounded on two sides by houses, with doors opening into it, there was a garden called “le Nutgardyne,” and a “Nuttrey Courte”, while the fig tree was the centre of a cluster of chambers. “Le Outre Temple" appears constantly at this time, together with “le Bastelle”, in which there were chambers belonging to the Society, and occupied by their tenants. There were also chambers in “le Barentyne”, in “le Olyvaunte”, in a tenement called “le Talbott”, … I can find no account or identification of this tower, but I think that it was probably the “Bastelle” here referred to. It has long since disappeared, though under what circumstances I am not in a position to state. Le Olyvaunt, le Barentyne, and le Talbott suggest that certain houses in the Inn had signs to identify them, as was not an uncommon custom at that period. Thus “le Olyvaunt” I understand to mean le Olifaunt, the elephant, a well-known sign;2


The hall, as set out for use in term time [footnote: Dugdale, “Origines” fol. 158], had a screen separating it from the buttery, and within the screen four tables. One across the hall was occupied by the reader, the treasurer, the Masters of the Bench, and from time to time by such noblemen, judges, and serjeants as formerly belonged to the Society, many of whom, as appears from the early records, still retained their chambers in the Inn. At a second table were seated the utter barristers, being those with full qualifications to practice, who also, after a certain period, were eligible to be called to the bench of the Inn, and to become masters of the Society. A third table was allocated to the inner bar or Gentlemen of the Master’s Commons, who after certain years’ service could be called by the bench to the dignity of utter barrister. The term utter (ulterior) is said by Dr. Johnson [footnote: Dictionary, title, “Utter.”] to be taken from the Saxon utter, having for one of its meanings the word complete, suggesting that the barrister had completed all necessary preliminaries to being raised to the highest eminence in his profession. Jacob [footnote: Dictionary, title, “Barraster.”] says they were named utter barristers, as they were called to plead ouster the bar, thus distinguishing them from the barristers who were called to plead within the bar, as were the king’s, the queen’s, and the prince’s counsel, and occasionally the benchers. The inner barristers at this period, and for long after, were thus lower in degree than the utter or outer barristers. The names have, however, of late years been entirely reversed, the description inner barrister being now assumed by the utter barrister who has been called to plead within the bar, and the utter or outer barrister being the junior. A fourth table accommodated the clerks commoners, gentlemen who had been admitted either by special or general admittance, or had come in due course from one or other of the Inns of Chancery. These, after certain probation, could be called or “tolted” to the Masters’ Commons table, thence to that of the utter barristers, and thence to that of the Masters of the Bench. The clerks commoners table, therefore, as nearly as may be, corresponded with the students’ table of the present day. On the other side of the screen was a fifth table, called the Yeoman’s Table. This was occupied by the benchers’ clerks, and was probably used by the benchers themselves when, on occasions described by Dugdale, they retired beyond the screen before coming into the hall on the occasions of the moots. There were also, on occasions, an officers’ table, and a table for the singers. [p. 400] Beyond the screen and above the yeomen’s table was the minstrels’ gallery, a usual accompaniment to every antient hall.




In 1537 the first occasion is found upon which certain ascertained sets of chambers are allocated to the use of the governors and certain Masters of the Bench, to the exclusion of other members of the Inn [p 118]. It was then ordered that ten sets of chambers, there described, shall be thereafter assigned to the governors and the members associated with the governors on the Bench.


The practice of allotting chambers for the use of Masters of the Bench was settled during this reign. The first intimation of the practice is to be found in an entry of 1537 [p 118], but no definite action appears to have been taken in the matter until February, 1586 [p 338], when an order was made for a “view for appointing chambers for benchers, to which chambers none but benchers should be admitted.” In June of the same year [p 339] it was ordered that twenty chambers be so set apart [p 348]. In November, 1587, a list of twenty-six chambers was submitted to and approved by Parliament, to which, hereafter, none but benchers, except by special order, were to be admitted. To these chambers sixteen benchers had then been admitted, the remaining ten chambers being occupied by gentlemen who are not described as benchers, but who may have been admitted by special order, or in consideration of money which they had expended in building or repairing chambers in the Inn. This order was confirmed in February, 1596, during the treasurership of Sir Edward Coke, by a minute signed by himself [p 412]. The minute, however, bears chiefly upon the position of Sir Julius Cesar, who had spent large sums on pulling down and rebuilding some decayed chambers at the end of the hall, of which it gives a detailed description. The references to chimneys in each room, to a room for clients to attend in, to the addition of a “study” to each set of chambers, and to a room for the storage of wood and other necessaries, show that these chambers were regarded as a great improvement upon those already existing. It is not clear from any entries in this volume whether rent was under any circumstances paid by members for the use of their chambers. I am disposed to think that no such rent was ever reserved, and that the only payment in regard to a chamber which was exacted by the Inn was a fee on admission. The annual revenue of the Inn was collected by means of ordinary pensions, which were assessed at 2s. [pp 4, 415] during the whole of this period, and by extraordinary assessments, levied according to the requirements of the day. A fee on admission to a chamber is still (1896) required from every member of the Inn.

Vol. I, 367

PARLIAMENT held on 31 May, 32 Elizabeth, A.D. 1590: … Order that the chambers of all double readers, so long as they are in their hands, shall be repaired by the treasurer at the charges of the House.




The internal discipline of the Inn also commenced [1520s?] to assume definite proportions. Certain barristers were fined for disorderly conduct. It was ordered that a book of admissions be kept. No shoff boord or slypgrote* was to be practised, nor any dice or cards to be used in the Inn under penalty of 3s. 4d. And in 1546 “the gentlemen of the Company” were ordered to trim their beards and to reform the cut of their clothes. [page refs. 22, 46, 63, 100, 102, 142]3

In 1523 we find the first mention of the players (istruonibus [meaning unknown]) [p 75], when it is ordered that an allowance shall be made for them as in the previous year—which was apparently 20s. There is no mention, however, of any plays, and I doubt whether any dramatic performance other than a masque or an interlude, was given in the Inn before the time of Elizabeth.

* In Strutt’s “Sports and Pastimes of the People of England,” London, 1845, p. 301, the game of shove groat or slypgroat is described. A parallellogram is made with chalk or by lines cut on the middle of a table about twelve inches in breadth and three or four feet in length, divided latitudinally into nine equal portions, in each of which is a figure in regular succession from one to nine. Each player has either a groat, a shilling, or a smooth halfpenny, which he places at the edge of the table and, striking with the palm of the hand, drives it towards the marks. According to the value of the figure reached the game is reckoned, which is usually thirty-one and must be made precisely. By 33 Hen. VIII. c. 9. shove groat or slide thrift is described as a “new and crafty game,” and is prohibited as tending to discourage the practice of archery. “Quoit him down, Bardolph, like a shove-groat shilling,” says Falstaff, “ Henry IV.,” Part 2, Act II., Sc. 4.


According to Mr. Foss [footnote: “Lives of the Judges,” vol. v., p. 339] and others, the domestic troubles of [Mary’s] reign had seriously affected public and private business, and the courts at Westminster, shorn of their judges, were well nigh denuded of barristers. This seems to have been accompanied by a corresponding access of trouble at the Inns of Court. For although the increase of the company required the assistance of a second “turne-broche” (someone who rotates food on a spit or skewer) [p. 180], yet their conduct left much to be desired. A fine of 20s., which was threatened upon every barrister who wore a beard of more than three weeks’ growth, caused several of them to [p 178] warn themselves out of commons rather than comply with the order. [p 179] In 1556 certain barristers misbehaved themselves, acting contemptuously towards the benchers, who committed eight of them to the Fleet prison [p 186], and expelled them from the Inn. Four of these offenders, however, on humble suit and petition to the bench, were graciously readmitted. An order of November, 1556 [p 187], after reciting that the utter bar had taken upon themselves to call members of the Inn to the bar, contrary to the antient order of the house, declared that none should henceforth come to the utter bar who were not called thereto by the bench, who should meet once or twice in each year, according to their discretion, for such purpose.

A further sumptuary [relating to or denoting laws that limit private expenditure on food and personal items] edict as to the dress and accoutrements of the members of the Inn [p 192] was promulgated in 1557, and it was also ordered that no fellow of the Inn under the rank of a bencher [p 189] should keep a boy or lackey in the house under penalty of forfeiting his chambers, and paying a fine of 10s. for each offence.


Among the miscellaneous entries [pp 209, 211, 234, 285, 305, 308, 329, 341, 377, 396, 410, 445, 430, 439] of this reign are orders against the wearing of cloaks, hats, etc., in the church, buttery, or hall under a penalty of 6s. 8d.; prohibitions against going into the City with hats, boots, and spurs unless the wearers are riding out of the town: against playing dice or cards in the hall or elsewhere in the house under pain of fine and expulsion: against “shooters with guns” within the Inn: against disclosing the secrets of the parliament: for expelling one William Parry for striking Hugh Hare with a dagger within the house: against coming into the hall with any weapon except the dagger and the knife under penalty of £5: re-admitting Mr. Tresham, afterwards compromised in the gunpowder plot, who having been expelled for three years and also sent to prison for a stroke given in the hall, had duly made his submission: the corporal oath required by the bench from Master Thurston, who had excused himself from reading by reason of his secret infirmities and sickness, “which is likely enough to be true, although it does not appear outwardly to our sight to be so”: an order, in 1564, that all lackeys and laundresses be avoided from the house within a week: orders in 1576 for the exclusion of strangers under penalty of 40s. through fear of the plague: that no married man should be a butler of the Society, and if he married after appointment to lose his post: regulating the allowance of beef and beer to the gardener, and ordering “all broken bread and drink with the chippings,” to be given to the poor. There is also recorded in 1591 an unsuccessful attempt made by certain barristers to exclude one Burges, an attorney and fellow of the house, from a set of chambers to which he had been admitted after they had long remained empty and had fallen into decay: and an order of 27th January, 1599-1600, that the gentlemen who keep private commons within the house at Christmas shall not break open the door of chambers where no fellow is lying, nor shall they take from any person in his chamber at Christmas more than 2s. 6d.


Certain barristers of the Inn having offended against the sumptuary orders by the indecent wearing of their hair were duly punished. Thus on 13th April, 1600, John Farwell, jr., having been put out of commons for his “long heare” was re-admitted on payment of 40s. On the 8th February of the following year Thomas Aldyngton was re-admitted, after being put out for his “long heare.” In 1602 George Hunter, who was put out “for the long heare on his head,” having then reformed it “to the good liking of the bench” was re-admitted and pardoned his fine of 40s.

vol. I, 410

PARLIAMENT held on the vigil of St. Thomas the Apostle, viz:— 20 December, 38 Elizabeth, A.D. 1595: … Order “that no fellow of this House shall come into the Hall with any weapons, except his dagger and his knife, upon pain of forfeiting 5li.”




The death of Queen Mary left the Society worshipping in the old form under the old Master of the Temple in a reconverted church. The numbers of admittances had increased, though slowly. The fellowship of the Inn had been restricted to barristers and students, and the complaints of the bar had been subdued by orders which are even now in force. A series of plentiful harvests during the last years of the Oueen had reduced the cost of all necessaries of life, and the general popularity of the protestant princess breathed a happy augury for the succeeding reign.


A great name in English history appears in our records under circumstances that, so far as I am aware, have not yet been made public [p 318]. On the 28th January, 1581-2, Sir Francis Drake, knight, was specially admitted a fellow of the Society “upon a fine at the discretion of the treasurer.” He had recently returned from his voyage round the world, and his celebrated ship, the Golden Hind was lying in the Thames, the object of universal admiration. He was not altogether unconnected with the Inn, for the Kellaways (or Keylways), whose names appear as fellows and benchers of the Inn for several previous generations, were his relations. He was descended from John Drake of Otterton, in the County of Devon, and Agnes Kellaway, his wife, who were his grandfather and grandmother. On the 26th September, 1580, Drake arrived in England. In April, 1581, the Queen knighted him on board the Golden Hind at Deptford, and his great patron, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, was the Palaphilos and great patron of the Inn. Whether Drake ever took up his admission the records do not show. A similar honour is said to have been paid him by the Middle Inn.


… it appears from Rogers that a suit of armour in the middle of the seventeenth century cost 20s. [footnote: Rogers, “History of Agriculture and Prices”, vol. vi, p. 598], including, as I assume, a breast-plate, a back piece, and a helmet.


… The minutes of the Parliaments are in different handwritings, those of the earliest period being uniformly in a running and not in a clerical hand. They appear to have been entered by each succeeding treasurer in his own writing, and present the eccentric varieties of caligraphy which would be expected under such circumstances. At a later date we find that the entries of certain treasurers are written by a clerk, unless the treasurer himself wrote a clerical hand, which is not probable. From the commencement of the records down to the latter half of the reign of Henry VIII., the treasurers’ minutes are headed with the letters I H S, a practice not uncommon in the pre-reformation days, when entries or memoranda related to matters of primary importance. Thus the book itself commences at the head of the second folio with I h s, and on other pages I h u. Down to the year 1539 the minutes are in Latin, with occasional entries in English. After that date they are almost uniformly in English.


The close of Elizabeth’s reign left the Inn and its fellows still at the mercy of the Crown, to whom they were tenants at will, having no title but that resting upon the most unsubstantial of foundations, the favour of the reigning Sovereign. Upon this, however, the two Inns had relied, and since the forfeiture to the Sovereign in 32 Henry VIII., the benchers of our Inn had added greatly to the value of the property by buildings and repairs, had renovated their hall, had joined in restoring their Church, had embanked their garden, and had proceeded in all respects as if, by the assent of the Crown for what was even then a nominal rent, they were the actual freeholders of the houses and land of their portion of the New Temple. Their confidence, which was well placed so long as the Tudors were on the throne, was destined to be rudely shaken under the first of the Stuarts, but at the time when this volume concludes, no doubt had arisen as to the security of their tenure. The collegiate character of the Inn was still maintained. “Come again to your College” were the words addressed to John Paston in 1440; and in 1603 the same system of collegiate discipline, of celibate living, of a common hall, of chamber life, and of compulsory attendance at the services of the church, at readings, at lectures, and at moots is found in operation. The standard of education for the profession of the bar had been, however, very materially raised. The shadowy curriculum of miscellaneous study described by Fortescue had given place to a more definite system of legal training, initiated by Queen Mary and regularized by Coke and his immediate predecessors, so that there was now, for the first time, some assurance that the practisers of the law were not entirely without knowledge of legal principles and procedure. The religious aspect of the Inn had, during the one hundred years of this volume, passed through various phases. The Church itself, with its services and its ornaments, had been accommodated to the recurring changes along with the Master, Dr. Ermested, who had officiated before and after the Reformation, and before, during, and after the restoration of Roman Catholicism, and who, having begun as a catholic priest under the Prior of S. John, subject to the supremacy of the Pope, had ended as a protestant pastor under the supremacy of the Crown. The ornate service and the gorgeous ritual of the Church of Rome, familiar to the people during the reign of Henry VII., had disappeared under the ordinances of Elizabeth, and the question of vestments had resolved itself into a contest whether the lecturer should preach in a cloak or in a gown. The system under which the Inns of Court were governed had also undergone substantial modification. It sufficed for the early years of our history that discipline should be maintained according to precedents, though they might be of doubtful origin, and at the discretion of the governors and benchers, although their decisions might not always be consistent with each other, or supported by considerations of an enlightened equity. But a more settled state of society demanded more exact and definite regulations. The condition of the Inns had, on more than one occasion, under the Tudors, seemed to warrant the interposition of the Crown, and by the end of the period now under consideration, the orders issued by the Privy Council, assented to by the judges, and promulgated by the Inns of Court, had laid the foundation of that procedure which now, after many variations, regulates the admission, the call, and the government of practitioners at the bar. Revelling and festivity, which during the Wars of the Roses, and under the first of the Tudors had been confined to eating, drinking, and dancing, with an occasional show of jugglery or an interlude, and a strain of minstrelsy, had gradually developed into performances characterized by literary and artistic excellence. The governors and associates of the Society being among the most distinguished men of the age, had, during the reign of Elizabeth, reformed the entertainments given by the Inn, had introduced a certain amount of spectacular effect into their masques, and had infused a literary quality into the dramas, which, under their auspices, were for the first time presented to the world. As the legal and literary status of the Society had advanced within the century, so also had its material prosperity increased, so that when, within a few years, it was called upon to insure its existence by a substantial payment, there was little difficulty in raising the necessary amount from the members of the Inn. …


The Governing Body


The governing body of the Inn at this period was composed as follows, each officer being elected yearly by the benchers on the morrow of All Souls (2nd November).

The Benchers.—Their number was not limited, and in order to secure a sufficient attendance for the business of the Society, they from time to time selected from the utter bar such as they chose to be readers, and such others as they thought fit and proper persons to be made Masters of the Bench, a system of co-optation which still survives in the procedure of the Inn. They made orders to bind the rest of the Inn, and punished those who transgressed either by fine, by forfeiture of their chambers, by putting out of commons, or in serious cases by expulsion from the house.

A Treasurer.—This gentleman was elected yearly from among the benchers. His duties were: (I) To admit to the Society such as he thought fit. (2) To assign chambers to members of the Inn. (3) To collect the pensions or dues, and to receive the fines on admissions to chambers. (4) To pay the rent to the Lord of S. John’s, and the cost of all repairs done to the chambers and generally to maintain the Inn. (5) To pay all wages and to appoint subordinate officials. (6) To render yearly an account of his office to be audited by members of the Inn.

The Governors.—Of these there were usually three, who were selected from the benchers, and originally had jurisdiction over the internal management of the Society. No order appears to have been made to discontinue the office of governor, but none were, in fact, elected after 27th October, 1566. A list of governors [p 239] of the Inner Temple down to that period extracted from the books of the Society, will be found in Dugdale’s “Origines”, fo. 172.

A Reader.—This gentleman was selected from the utter barristers, and being elected reader, was in due course called to be a Master of the Bench. He had, during his period of office, precedence over other Masters of the Bench, and certain privileges with regard to the admission of members. He was, however, required to give entertainments which were of a costly character, and this he could only avoid by refusing the readership and paying a substantial fine to the house. This payment by the reader elect was in the year 1547 fixed at £40, with a further liability to lose his place on the bench [p 185], and to be remitted to the rank of an utter barrister. The reader had two attendants or assistants selected from the utter bar, who usually, in due course, themselves became readers. He was required to read or lecture a specified number of times on some legal subject, and to attend as moderator at a specified number of moots. Some of these readings, such as Treherne on the Forest Laws, Bacon on the Statute of Uses, Callis on Sewers, and, at a later date, Jardine on the Use of Torture in England, are still preserved as accepted authorities on the subjects so treated. The reader was the most important man of the Inn next after the treasurer, and he had the right to hang his escutcheon or coat-of-arms on the walls of the hall. The earliest of these escutcheons is that of Thomas Littleton, author of the “Essay on Tenures,” a reader in the time of Henry VI., and justice of the Common Pleas in the reign of Edward IV. The reader during his term of office was attended with great state, for although according to many of the entries the pursuit of knowledge was at times much neglected for the pursuit of pleasure, yet great reverence was shown to the embodiment of learning, which was supposed to be concentrated for the time being in the reader of the Inn. Readers were single and double. The latter were benchers who, having read once, were called upon at a subsequent period to read again, and were thenceforward held to be persons of great consideration in the law.

Four Auditors.—Two selected from the benchers, and two from the bar, audited the treasurer’s accounts for the year, and gave a supper, at the cost of the Inn, on the occasion of their audit. This practice is still continued, but a dinner takes the place of a supper.

A Pensioner, who collected the pensions due to the Society, and accounted to the treasurer.

These were the officers of the house by whom all its proceedings were regulated. They met together frequently during and after term at what was and is known as the Bench Table, when orders were made for the governance of the Inn, for the calling of students to the bar, and for the election of barristers to the bench and to the readership. For more important matters the benchers met in Parliament, which gave the name to the Parliament Chamber. In course of time more subjects were assigned to Parliament, amongst which were the duties of calling students to the bar and of confirming the status [p 241] of benchers who had been previously elected to that dignity. [p 365] …


The term Bencher (lez Benchers) is first mentioned in the Records in 1527 [p. 90].

Vol I., 413-14

PARLIAMENT held on 23 May, 38 Elizabeth, A.D. 1596:

“5. Also [it is ordered by this parliament] that the readers hereafter be chosen for their learning, for their duly keeping of exercises of their House, for their honest behaviour and good disposition, and such that for their experience and practise be able to serve the common wealth.”

“6. And that every reader continue his reading three weeks and to read at least thrice every week, and oftener in such Houses as hath been used to read oftener, upon pain to be taken as no reader and to be removed from the bench, except only in case where they shall not be able to perform it by reason of sickness.”

“7. Also that the reader call few to his table, and they to be of ancients that attend his reading, and only on the Sundays, strangers, and of them but few, and that excess of diet be not used.”

“8. That no reader exceed the number of eight serving men in his reading to attend him or under that number at his own pleasure.”

“9. Also that every reader be assisted by such benchers, utter barristers, and vacationers, during the time of his reading, as ought by the orders of the House to attend him, upon such penalties and forfeitures truly to be imposed and levied, as by the orders of that House are or shall be limited and appointed, upon further pain that in case the reader be not sufficiently assisted and accompanied throughout his reading, that then such by whose default the defect groweth, shall be removed both from the bench and bar.”

“10. That double reading be strictly observed in every House according to the ancient orders of every of them.”

“11. Also that no benchers be called but such as be fittest both for their learning, practice, and good and honest conversation, and that they call not to the bench too often, but very sparingly in respect of the great multitude that be already.”




But inasmuch as feasting and hospitality were the antient and hereditary virtues of the Society, and as the members of the Inn were mostly gentlemen of good station and of sufficient means, a special staff was organized to conduct the proceedings at certain festive periods of the year. These were Allhalloween, Candlemas and Ascension, of which the two former were the more important, and were celebrated with music, dancing, and stage plays. The following officers were for this purpose yearly appointed:—A Steward for Christmas, whose duties were confined to the Christmas vacation, lasting usually about three weeks; a Marshal, a Constable Marshal, and a Master of the Game. The most important, however, probably were the Masters of the Revels.—Of these there were sometimes one, sometimes more, whose duties varied with the fortunes of the Inn and the state of public affairs. We have no clear accounts of any revels at the time now under consideration, but at a later date the duties of the Masters of the Revels and of the Christmas officers must have been not only onerous but costly. The other officials of the house were a butler, who also had charge of the library and of the accounts; the manciple (mancipium) [an officer who buys provisions for a college, monastery, or other institution], house steward, or purveyor, immortalized by Chaucer in the “Canterbury Tales“; certain under-butlers, pannier-men, cooks, gardeners, porters, and laundresses.


The fluctuation in the prices of provisions caused from time to time changes in the charge for commons [p 172, 184 & 197], and little was done towards increasing the buildings of the Inn beyond the construction of a new kitchen in 1555 [p 182], to defray the cost of which an assessment was made on all the members of the Inn.

A call of seven serjeants4 took place in 1555 [p 181], when Serjeant Prideaux, the senior, received a gift of £10. The usual speeches were made, the feast was given in the Inner Temple Hall, and the serjeants received from the hands of the judges, who formerly belonged to the Inn, the customary gifts of coifs, etc. [footnote: Dugdale, “Origines” fol. 129]. It is stated by Foss, [footnote: “Lives of the judges” vol. v., p. 352] but does not appear in our records, that on the occasion of this feast the barristers took offence at the presence of the Lord Mayor with his sword and mace, and that as he went through the cloisters “his sword was willed to be borne down.”


A full account is given by Dugdale [footnote: “Origines”, fol. 157.] of the Great Christmases at the Inner Temple, with details of the feeding, the prices charged, the dancing, singing, revelry and sports, which he professes to have extracted from the accounts of the Society. It is interesting to those who seek information as to the amusements of our ancestors, and its perusal will suggest that there must have been much wealth and good fellowship among the members of the Inn, together with sound constitutions, and the vigour, elasticity, and light-heartedness of youth. But the charges upon the readers and others beyond their allowance from the Inn for drinkings, dinners, and other entertainments, were felt to be “intolerable”, by reason of the great resort of the Queen’s Councillors and other very many honourable persons, and the multitude of fellows and commoners within the Society. Orders were made in 1563 [p 228], for the relief of the readers, by an assessment upon every fellow in commons during the week of the reader’s dinner, at 2s. for the dinner and 12d. for the drinking.


In addition to masques and other Christmas entertainments, a practice obtained early in the reign of Elizabeth of performing plays in the halls of the Inns of Court. At this time there were no public theatres where dramatic pieces could be produced. The first playhouse in London, called The Theatre, was built by Burbage about 1577 in the fields of Finsbury. But it was inconveniently situated in the suburbs, could not be visited without danger of robbery, and was long regarded as a rendezvous for disorderly persons. The Blackfriars theatre was not built till 1596-97, and the Globe in Southwark, whose name has become familiar to us through the universal interest which is felt in everything pertaining to Shakespeare, was not opened till 1600. Such pieces, therefore, as were produced before the end of the century were played in the private houses of the nobility, in the halls of the Colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, in the Inns of Court, or under the superintendence of the Master of the Revels before the Oueen either at Whitehall or at some other of the royal palaces. There are no entries, in our now existing records, of the performance of any particular play in our own hall before the reign of James I., though there are entries relating to gratuities to the players and to the minstrels which would indicate the fact. It is possible, however, to supplement to some extent the poverty of our records in this respect by reference to contemporaneous documents which show that our Inn was not behind the others, and that in fact it took the lead in the encouragement of the drama within its walls. I am unable, however, to suggest that any play of Shakespeare was produced here during this reign, nor from entries which appear in succeeding volumes does it appear that his works were at any time popular at the Inner Temple.

On Twelfth Night of 1560 or 1561 the first dramatic performance of one of the earliest dramas of our country took place in the Inner Temple hall. Two distinguished members of our Society, Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville, wrote the tragedy of “Gorboduc, or Ferrex and Porrex,” and played it in association with other gentlemen of the Inn. The fame of this piece reached the Court, and on the 18th January of the year 1561-62 it was performed before the Queen at Whitehall by the same company. …

In 1568 the play of “Tancred and Gismund” was produced at the Inner Temple, and according to tradition, supported by the preface to the play, which was published during the Queen’s life, Her Majesty herself was present at the performance. It was written by gentlemen of the Inn, of whom the principal was Robert Wilmot, who some years afterwards left the profession of the law for the study of divinity, and had considerable preferment in the church. …


In 1594, at a Parliament held on the vigil of S. Thomas the Apostle [p 401], Julius Cesar (subsequently Master of the Rolls) the treasurer was ordered “to deliver unto the Ambassador to be sent from the State of this House to Grays Inn, towards his expences, the sum of 20 marks.”* This ambassador accompanied by a retinue from our Inn went to Gray’s Inn on the 20th December to witness their revels, and to be present at a performance of the “Comedy of Errors”, which took place in their Hall. The ambassador, however, according to the records of Gray’s Inn, considered himself shabbily treated; [footnote: Douthwaite, p.229] with the result that there was much bickering and noise which interfered with the proper performance of the play. The quarrel, however, seems to have rapidly healed, as on the 1st February, [footnote: Ibid., p. 230] the Ambassador of Templaria, together with the Prince of Purpoole, representing Gray’s Inn, with a retinue of eighty lawyers from the two Inns, each wearing a plume on his head, dined with the Lord Mayor at Crosby Place. Whether this “Comedy of Errors” was really Shakespeare’s play of that name may be open to some doubt, although the probability is in its favour.

*ref. Wikipedia: In England the “mark” never appeared as a coin, but was only used as a unit of account. It was apparently introduced in the 10th century by the Danes. According to 19th century sources, it was initially equivalent to 100 pence, but after the Norman Conquest (1066) it was worth 160 pence, or 13 shillings and 4 pence, i.e., two-thirds of a pound sterling, approximately 250g in silver.

In February, 1601-2, Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night, or What You Will” was played in the recently erected hall of the Middle Temple. As it was the custom for the benchers of the two Inns to be present at each other’s performances, our benchers were probably at the Middle Temple on this occasion. …

vol. I, 410

PARLIAMENT held on the vigil of St. Thomas the Apostle, viz:— 20 December, 38 Elizabeth, A.D. 1595: … Order “that the gentlemen that keep private commons shall have five marks given them towards their music.”

vol. I, 490

Feasts and Revels at Christmas lasted from Christmas-eve to Twelfth-day.


Internal Organisation


A distinct line of division was also drawn for the first time between the barrister and the attorney. An order of the 23rd May, 1557 [p 190], provided that no attorney or other known solicitor of matters should be admitted into the house without the assent or agreement of Parliament. A further order of 28th June, 1557 [p 192], provided that no attorney should be admitted to the Inn, and that in all future admissions it be made a condition that if he practices attorneyship he be ipso facto dismissed, but have liberty to repair to the Inn of Chancery whence he came, or to any other such Inn if he were member of none before. From this order there seems to have been no departure down to the present day, the four Inns of Court being constituted alone by members of the bar, and the Inns of Chancery still continuing to admit to their fellowship barristers, attorneys, and solicitors.


In 1569 we find the first interference in our affairs by the Lords of the Privy Council, the Star Chamber5 and the Ecclesiastical Commission. [p 252] … It appears, however, from a Minute of Parliament, dated 23rd November, 1572 [p 266], that none of the absent parties having appeared before the High Commission Court, and none of the others having been reconciled, they were, by an Act of Parliament in Trinity Term, 1570, all expelled from the House. At the same time twelve other fellows of the Society were also expelled for non-appearance before the same Court on similar charges. [p 272] …

The absence of definite information in our records upon this matter of interest to our Inn can be supplied from the State Papers of the period, which contain a report of the examinations of these gentlemen and of certain members of the other Inns before the Ecclesiastical Commission in the Star Chamber, and give the interrogatories administered to them with their answers, followed by a memorandum of Lord Burleigh as to the sentence to be passed upon them.[footnote: “State Papers, Elizabeth—Domestic”, vol. lx, no. 70] …


“Whereas [p 215] we the company and fellowship of the Inner Temple in London, now have and enjoy and all our predecessors of the same fellowship and company, by all the time whereof no memory of man is to the contrary, have had used and enjoyed the readings of the three Inns of Chancery called Clements Inn, Cliffords Inn and Lions Inn, which said Houses by reason thereof have ever been accepted and taken as members united and annexed to the body of this our House, and by all the same time the fellows and students of this our House have from time to time ministered and imparted to the fellowship and companies of the same three Houses of Chancery, the learnings and knowledge of the law by readings, moots, and other kinds of learning: … Yet nevertheless” suit had secretly been made to Sir Nicholas Bacon, Keeper of the Great Seal, that he should without any default on our part “by his own power and authority take order to sever and cut off from the body of this our House one of the said Inns of Chancery or members of the same our House and annex or appoint the same to the fellowship and company of the Middle Temple.” That in consequence the benchers were called before the Lord Keeper when “the two Chief Justices earnestly maintained and furthered the matter against us,” so “considering the earnestness of the said Chief Justices and that they both and the most part of all the other justices of both the benches and of the Barons of the Exchequer now being, had been of the fellowship of the Middle Temple” they humbly made suit to Lord Robert Dudley, K.G., master of the Queen's Majesty’s Horse to be their refuge and means to the Queen on their behalf. The result of this intercession was that “his Lordship hath so earnestly and honorably moved the Queen’s Highness on our behalf therein, that at his Lordship’s suit and contemplation it hath pleased Her Majesty . . . . to send Her Majesty’s ring as a token to the said Lord Keeper, and also in her royal person to speak to the said Lord Keeper to cease, and no further to proceed or meddle in the same matter, but to suffer us to continue our said antient and just possessions to the readings of the same three Houses of Chancery”, which the said Lord Keeper, being of the company of Gray’s Inn, which had been of antient amity and fellowship with this House, gladly obeyed and stayed all further proceedings.

This was in November 1561 [p 219], and in the following month a grand and solemn Christmas was kept in honour of the favourite. A long account of this pageant and of the consequent feasting is given in Dugdale [footnote: “Origines”, fol. 150.], and in Gerard Legh’s “Accedence of Armorie.” [footnote: Published first in 1562—followed by many other editions.] …It does not appear whether ladies were present at these revels, I think they were not, but on banqueting nights, when visitors were invited [footnote: “Origines”, fol. 157.] to see a play, or a masque, ladies were provided with seats in the hall, and after the “sports” were ended, they were escorted into the library, where a supper was provided for them; the Lord Chancellor and certain antients of the other Inns remaining in the hall, where a special table was reserved for them, and they were served by members of the Society, who also danced and sang and made sport for their entertainment.


The Inn at this period, it should be borne in mind, had no revenue beyond that received from its members, either upon admission to the Inn, upon admission to a chamber, or from the regular pensions to which all were liable. It had no land outside its own area, no rents from its chambers, no capital fund to draw upon, and was continually increasing its expenses and incurring liabilities. The only mode, therefore, of raising additional revenue was either by special assessments upon the members of the Society [p 388], as in May 1593, when a general tax was levied upon all members of the Inn to meet the debts of the Society, each bencher paying 20s., each utter barrister 13s. 4d., and every other member 10s.; or by fine upon those who for reasons of economy or otherwise refused to take upon them the office of reader, or the equally costly offices attaching to the Christmas and other revels. Members were rated according to their standing in the Society, and the amounts do not appear to have been collected in all cases without difficulty [p 347], necessitating sometimes the issuing of writs, and on occasions a process of outlawry. When therefore new chambers were required for the lodging of members of the Inn it seems to have been the practice to allow such building to be undertaken by fellows of the Society, who advanced the whole or a substantial portion of the sum necessary for the purpose. In return the undertakers were given the privilege of calling the buildings after their own name, a personal right of occupation for life of certain of the chambers so erected by them, and a further right during their life to nominate one or more members of the Society for admission to other such chambers without any payment to the Inn. Thus we find notices of Packington’s Rents, Fuller’s Rents, Harrison’s Rents, Bradshaw’s Rents, Cesar’s Buildings, Crompton’s Buildings, Hare Court, and several others, indicating the member of the Inn by whose liberality the chambers were erected.


The regulations for admission to the Inn promulgated under Philip and Mary in 1557, were extended in 1562 [pp 190, 223] by a provision that no one should henceforth be admitted to the Inn except upon payment of 40s., unless he were the son of a member of the bench or of the utter bar, or were and had been for one whole year of the company of one of the Inns of Chancery belonging to this house. This was further extended in 1600 [p 439] by the provision that none should be admitted of the Society except he were of good parentage and of no evil behaviour.

In 1563 it was ordered that none should be called or received [p 226] as an utter barrister before he had been first called, examined, and approved by the bench as a fit and proper person to be called to the bar. In February, 1566-67 it was agreed that from henceforth [p 241] no one should be called to the utter bar except only by Parliament in the term time, and not otherwise. On 3rd November, 1567, [p 243] the second day of Michaelmas term, Mr. Hugh Hollyngeshed was accordingly called to the utter bar by the Parliament of the Inn. The practice thus established has been strictly observed from that time to the present, when the calling of students to the bar is strictly limited to term time and to Parliament nights. A similar rule was applied at a later date (31st May, 1590) to calls to the bench, [p 365] which could only thenceforth take place during term and by a Parliament, Sir Edward Coke being the first utter barrister called to the bench under this regulation [p 366]. The requisite standing for an inner barrister to be called to the utter bar appears [p 346] from certain orders in 1587 to have then been eight years. No definite rule, however, appears to have existed as to the standing requisite for a call from the utter bar to the bench.

The fear which haunted all early governments that the increasing resort of country people to London would over-fill the great town and leave the country without a sufficient number of capable inhabitants, was fully impressed upon the statesmen of Queen Elizabeth. It occasioned an inquiry to be made into the condition of the Inns of Court, the number of residents therein, the number of chambers they each owned, and the number of those who occupied them. The result is interesting as showing how evenly the lawyers were then distributed between the four Inns. The return to this inquiry is dated in 1574, and from its consideration the following facts appear to have been ascertained. [footnote: “State Papers, Eliz.—Dom.,” vol. xcv., No. 91. See App. III] The Inner Temple had 100 chambers. The fellows of the Inn of all sorts were 189, composed thus: benchers 15, utter barristers 23, other gentlemen 151. Of these 163 had chambers, 26 had none. … It appears from this calculation that the number of fellows of the several Inns of Court had not increased since the time of Edward IV. Fortescue puts the number of those at the least frequented Inn in his time at 200, whereas in 1574 the least frequented (Fortescue’s own college) Lincoln’s Inn had 160, and the average of the four Inns was 190 each. The whole number of gentlemen practising at the Bar was thus 177, of whom 52 were benchers and 125 utter barristers.

Following upon this return, about Easter 1574, orders for the government of the Inns of Court were promulgated by the Queen [p 276] with the advice of her Privy Council and the justices of the two benches at Westminster. The only practical addition to those already in existence, was a clause prohibiting further admissions to he Inns of Court after the full number of two to a chamber had been completed; and declaring that no more chambers should be built so as to increase the number, except in the Middle Temple, where they might convert their old hall into chambers not exceeding ten. This was not, however, as I understand it, a restriction peculiar to the Inns of Court, but was, as I have already observed, part of a well recognized system of government, which was enforced by various Acts and Ordinances, both under the Tudors and the Stuarts.

In 1579 a return endorsed “The names of certain lawyers with their qualities, etc., 1579”, was made to the Privy Council “of the chyfe reeders double and single and of the chyfe Baresters for their practise in the 4 Innes of Courtes.” They are distinguished as “pro” and “pa”, which I assume to mean protestant and papist. In the other Inns of Court many names are given with descriptions as “very lerned”, “of great lyvine”, “welthy”, “of great practise”, and the like, but in the Inner Temple list except that Mr. Anderson is described as a papist (“pa”) very learned, and Mr. Flowerdewe and Mr. French as “lerned”, there is no description added to any of the 19 names there given. …

By the middle of Elizabeth’s reign, however, notwithstanding the prohibition of overcrowding, the Society of the Inn had become very similar to that of the great Universities, where learning was not necessarily the sole object of membership, but to which young men also resorted for the pleasure of social meetings and for the acquisition of various accomplishments. Thus it was in our Inn where the cost and the luxury of living had greatly increased, while the patient study of the law had correspondingly diminished. Various orders were from time to time promulgated by the Privy Council, and frequent attempts were made by the benchers to deal with this evil. In 1581 the number of the barristers of the Inn had so greatly increased that they could with difficulty be accommodated, and the benchers thereupon took a step [p 316] which, though not very effective to diminish the number of students, shewed a considerable spirit of independence. It had been the practice for many years for persons in high station to solicit the bench either by letter or by message, to call to the bar certain of their nominees who were members of the Inn. The benchers, to their credit, were not always ready to comply with these solicitations [p 329], and as will be seen, in February, 1583-4, they declined a request of the Lord Treasurer, and in July, 1587 they postponed [p 346] the consideration of similar requests from the new Lord Chancellor and Sir Walter Mildmay. Now, however, in view of the attempts by the Council to limit their numbers, they renewed in substance an order made on the 25th of January, 1572-3, and declared that “all letters hereafter to be directed to the treasurer and Masters of the Bench or otherwise for the calling of any one of this Society to the bar, and all messages or requests by any manner of ways or means to be made for that or the like intent or purpose by or from any person or persons of what estate degree or calling soever he be of, shall be respected as a matter against the antient order of this House and the same person, for whom any such letter shall happen to be sent or request made, shall from henceforth be utterly disabled to receive any degree within this House.” This order stopped for a time the pressure of great personages upon the bench, but the benchers soon recommenced their calls to the bar very much as heretofore. In February, 1584 [p 329], seventeen gentlemen were called to the bar at one Parliament [p 339]. In 1586 there were found to be so many utter barristers, and the exercise of learning had become so much neglected that the service of all newly called barristers was enforced for six grand vacations and twelve mean vacations under a penalty of 20s. Calls to the bar which were still promoted by the Chancellor [p 343], the Earl of Leicester, and other great personages connected with the Inn continued to be numerous, and in 1587 stringent orders were made [p 344] requiring newly called barristers to attend moots and argue the reader’s cases in the hall and in the Inns of Chancery, under pain of “being accounted no utter barrister”, and losing their places at the bar. And these penalties appear to have been duly enforced for, in 1589, three barristers were disbarred for not keeping their exercise of learning as appointed by the orders, and in 1590 certain others were fined 9s. each [p 367] for non-attendance at the reading during the previous Lent vacation. Rules were also made to regulate the practice of pleaders in the various Courts. By these no one was admitted to plead in any of the Courts at Westminster [p 277], or to sign any pleading unless he were a reader or a bencher in Court, or an utter barrister of five years’ standing, or a reader in Chancery of two years’ standing. Nor could any one plead before the Justices of Assize unless he were qualified to plead in the Courts at Westminster, or were allowed by the Justices of Assize to plead before them. These rules, which were passed by the Queen, with the advice of the Privy Council and the Justices of the Bench and the Common Pleas at Westminster in Easter term, 1574, were republished with admonitions in 1580. In June of the same year [p 304] the bench extended these orders to the Star Chamber [p 306], and declared that no one should set his hand to a bill or plea in the Star Chamber, or plead on the hearing of any causes there, but such as were readers in this house; nor should any practitioners move any cause there but such as were benchers, under penalty of being put out of commons, being disqualified to be ever called to the bench, and being subjected to a fine.

The stringency of these rules, however, had little effect upon the increase of the bar. In July, 1590, seventeen gentlemen were called at one Parliament. In February, 1592, fifteen were so called. In May, 1595, twenty were so called, and smaller numbers were called in other terms.[pp 368, 387, 404] …

On the 23rd May, 1596, during the Mastership of Sir Edward Coke [p 413], it was agreed by all the Judges by the assent of the Benchers of the Four Inns of Court and ordered by this Parliament, that no one was to be admitted into an Inn of Court unless he had a chamber within the Inn, and in the meantime he was to be of an Inn of Chancery:

That no one was to be called to the bar except he was of seven years’ standing and had kept his exercises of learning, etc.:

That only eight utter barristers should be called in any one year, viz.: four by the benchers and four by the readers:

That readers were to be chosen for their learning and were to read:

That excess of diet for readers was to be discontinued, and among other details, that not more than eight serving men were to be permitted to each reader:

And in regard to the calling of benchers, that such were to be selected “as are fittest for their learning, practice and good and honest conversation.” [p 414] Also “that they call not to the bench too often but very sparingly in respect of the great multitude that be already.”

The first of these rules gives a remarkable exemplification of the collegiate system still dominating the Temple. It resembled that of the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, by which every member must have a room in his college, so as to be under the direct supervision of the Fellows, and if he cannot obtain admission to the college, he must be remitted to one of the Halls attached thereto.

On the 28th May, 1598 [p 423], it was ordered that, whenever a student was personally absent for two whole years in time of vacation, such absence should be deducted from the seven years he had to keep.

From an order of the 18th June, 1598, as to certificates from the Inns of Chancery, it appears that the fees on a general admission were £5; but if the student came from an Inn of Chancery with proper certificates that he had been two years in the said Inn, and had duly kept his exercises of learning, the fees for admission were reduced to 20s.

On the 10th February, 1600 [p 431], it was ordered that no fellow be called to the bar “except he keep six vacations, and during such vacations use the exercise of learning in this House and in the Houses of Chancery, and sitt at four several grand motes in every vacation within the space of the said three years,” comprising the six vacations, and except he receive the communion in the Temple Church twice every year of the said three years: the butlers to take the names and certify to the bench those present at the grand motes.

On the 25th May, 1600 [p 433], “the negligence of the utter barristers being greater than ever heretofore known within the memory of man, whereof the learning of the House is likely to decay if some provision be not made ”it was provided that every barrister under three years’ standing should be present at the breaking of the cases to be mooted at the following term, on pain of being put out of commons: and that every barrister under five years’ standing should also be present under pain of such fine as the bench should think fit.

On the 8th February, 1601 [p 439], an order regulating the apparel of members of the Inn and requiring their due attendance at the Temple Church concludes thus: “and that special regard be had hereafter to and for the callinge of sufficient studentes to the utter bar in this house and lykewise for the callinge of learned and sufficient persons to the benche here and suche also to bothe the said places as shalbe holden and thoughte to be of good and sounde religion and lykely to serve the Commonwealthe.”

This great and sudden increase in the number of practising barristers struck Lord Chancellor Hatton as early as 1588, when he said, “there are now more at the bar in one house than there were in all the Inns of Courts when I was young man.” Mr. Foss, in his “Lives of the Judges,” [footnote: vol. v, p. 423] gives the number of counsel practising in the reign of Queen Elizabeth as 352; a very remarkable advance upon the 117 found to be practising in 1574. The number was, however, reduced to 259 in the succeeding reign of King James. [footnote: ibid., vol. vi, p. 35] It may well be doubted whether the great number of our fellows or the stringency of our regulations did more than promote good fellowship and a certain fair level of general learning among the great body of the Inn. Paul Hentzner, a German gentleman, tutor to a nobleman making the tour of Europe in 1598, published on his return home his experience in England. His reference to the Inns of Court is as follows: [footnote: “A Journey into England, by Paul Hentzner in the year MDXCVIII. In latin, translated and dedicated to the Society of Antiquaries by Horace Walpole, F.S.A. Printed at Strawberry Hill, 1757.”]

“There are 15 colleges within and without the city, nobly built with beautiful gardens adjoining. Of these the three principal are:

I. The Temple [Templum vulgo Tempel] inhabited formerly by the Knights Templars. It seems to have taken its name from the old Temple or Church which has a round tower added to it, under which lie buried those Kings of Denmark that reigned in England.

II. Gray’s Inn [Grezin], and

III. Lincolns Inn [Lynconsin].

In these colleges, numbers of the young nobility, gentry and others are educated and chiefly in the Study of Physic, for very few apply themselves to that of the law: [philosophiæ,theologiæ et medicinæ potissimum operam dantes {of philosophy, theology and medicine, the main tools of giving}]. They are allowed a very good table, and silver cups to drink out off [sic]. Once a person of distinction who could not help being surprised at the great number of silver cups said ‘He should have thought it more suitable to the life of students if they had used rather glass or earthenware than silver.’ The College answered, They were ready to make him a present of all their plate provided he would undertake to supply them with all the glass and earthenware they should have a demand for; since it was very likely he would find the expence, from constant breaking, exceed the value of the silver.’”

Hentzner’s work, although generally regarded as an accurate and valuable account of the manners and customs of the countries of Europe in the sixteenth century, especially in reference to the personality of Elizabeth and of her surroundings, gives probably not an absolutely accurate view of the Inns of Court; or it may be that having dined at one of the benches he was struck with the profusion of gold and silver plate in use on their grand days. His conversation, however, with one of the benchers shows that gentleman’s views to have been prophetic, for it will be seen in subsequent volumes, upon examination of the butler’s accounts, that the replacing of the green pots broken by the students and the paniermen [paid officers of the house who waited at table, summoned the members to meals by blowing a horn, provided mustard, pepper, etc., and received certain perquisites] amounted in the course of the year to so large a sum, that if Mr. Hentzner had accepted his friend’s offer he would probably have been a loser on the event. There was, however, I think, a considerable amount of silver and gilt plate in use at our hall even at this early date. …

vol. I, 388

PARLIAMENT held on 6 May, 35 Elizabeth, A.D. 1593: … “For that the debts owing diversely by this House are so great, that the ordinary revenues and duties of the same neither will nor can suffice to satisfy and content the same, it is therefore ordered, granted, and enacted at this parliament for the better performance thereof, that a general taxation shall be set and imposed upon all the fellows of this House severally in manner and form following, to be paid immediately, that is to say, upon every bencher, 20s., upon every utter barrister, 13s. 4d., and upon every inner barrister or other fellow of this House, 10s.” [there are many entries in the Calendar of a simliar nature]




In November, 1592, the Parliament was held at Hertford by reason of the plague, the benchers attending being Dr. Julius Cesar, Master of the Requests, Edward Cooke, Solicitor of the Queen, Thomas Coventry, and others. [pp 384, 391, 392] On 1st July, 1593, an order was made breaking up the commons on and after the 14th July, inasmuch “as the infection of the plague is greatly increased and dispersed within the city of London, and the suburbs of the same at the present time, and is very likely to become more dangerous hereafter.” In the absence of the fellows of the Inn, John Bothway the panierman, Thomas Middleton, the clerk of the church, and three others were appointed to keep watch and ward at 3s. 4d. each weekly except Middleton, who was only to have 2s. 6d. In Michaelmas Term, 1593, the plague was still raging in London. The Star Chamber [footnote: “Cases heard before the Star Chamber”, p. 2.], and the Courts of Law had removed to St. Albans from their habitations in New Palace Yard, and there also the Parliament of the Inn was held on the 11th November before Julius Cesar, Master of the Requests, Edward Cooke, Solicitor to the Queen, Thomas Coventry, Laurence Tanfield, and other benchers. At this parliament “Mr. Doctor Cesar” was appointed treasurer for the ensuing year and Mr. Thomas Coventry, afterwards Lord Keeper, was named as the Lent Reader with Mr. Tanfielde (afterwards Lord Chief Baron, who gave the name to Tanfield Court, where he had his chambers,) as one of his attendants. In January, 1594, the parliament was again held in the Temple, although the Star Chamber and the Law Courts still continued to sit at St. Albans.6





The reign of Queen Mary naturally called forth orders and directions relating to the church. … It was ordered [p. 191] that all fellows of the House, in commons, should come to church, hear divine service, mass, matins, and evensong as heretofore, and that the said fellows should observe and keep eighteen offering days in the year “according to the antient laudable custom of this House.” The Friars were once more brought upon the scene by an order which provided that every fellow and companion of the House should “pay every term to the Black Friars a fraction of a penny according to the antient custom heretofore therein used, so that the said Friars come and demand the same from the said companion.”


In 1577 further steps were taken against the Inns of Court and George Bromley and Edward Flowerdewe, benchers of this Society made a return of recusants within the Inner Temple … [not including any Risdon, but “Pollard of the Countie of Devon fled beyond the seas as it is said.”]


…About the same time further regulations were made for the Church. The hours of divine service were fixed at 6.30 a.m. in term time, and 7 a.m. in vacation. The Holy Communion was to be administered four times in the year [p 321], according “as the laws and Her Majesty’s injunctions do prescribe and allow of, and not in any other manner.” A great standing box well bound with iron was set up in the church to receive the contributions of the charitable. And the money so given was to be “employed to the relief of prisoners or to such other charitable uses as to the benchers of the houses shall be thought meet and convenient.” The choir door was to be kept by one of the butlers [p 321] so that no woman should come into the choir, and that all other strangers should be excluded except noblemen and knights. With a view to keep order in the church [p 320] and to ascertain the names of those members of the two societies who failed to attend the church and to communicate at the prescribed seasons, power was given to the Master to nominate two gentlemen from each house, “such as he can persuade to take upon them that office and charge and withal such us [sic] the benchers shall well like and allow of”, as overseers in the church. These overseers were to signify the names of offenders to the Master, who was to admonish them privately, and in default of reformation to report them to the bench.

Sometime before his death Canon Alvey was attacked with illness, and being unable to discharge his duties, Mr. Walter Travers was appointed Divinity Lecturer or Preacher at a salary of £20 per annum, raised by an assessment upon the members of the two societies. … For his maintenance a levy of 8d. per term was assessed upon every member of the Inn. …


The position of the Clerk of the Church was also recognized, and he was permitted to have a life estate in the little house he had lately built adjoining the church [p 314], “he providing yearly during the said term a lantern and candle light every night, in the same place, from the feast of St. Michael to the feast of the Annunciation at his own cost.” [p 334] For his services in the church he had a yearly offering of 4d. from every gentleman of the house. …

About the time of the Armada the trouble with the papists appears to have ceased, but the puritan element then became a cause of disturbance [p 353]. In June, 1588, an order was made that every gentleman of this House who “shall be in commons there or lie in any chamber there by the space of one week, and shall be absent from the service in the Temple Church on the Sabbath Day in the same week . . . shall forfeit and pay this House for every such default 12d. except he shall have such reasonable excuse as the Bench of the House shall be allowed of.” [p 362] In November, 1589, the advance of Puritanism was shown by the fining of nine members of the Inn 6s. 8d. each for wearing their hats in the church and at the kitchen door, and one for wearing his hat in the Parliament House, “he being at dinner there.” [p 377] And in November, 1591, certain barristers were “put out of commons for not singing upon Hollymas day last, being specially warned beforehand to provide for their songs.”




The early mode of tuition for the bar is known to us, though not very clearly, from Fortescue, who in the following passage describes for the benefit of his future king the manner of life in the Inns of Court: [footnote: Fortescue, “De laudibus,” cap. xlix., p. III]

“There is both in the Inns of Court and in the Inns of Chancery a sort of an Academy or Gymnasium, fit for persons of their station: where they learn singing and all kinds of music, dancing, and such other accomplishments and diversions (which are called Revels) as are suitable to their quality, and such as are usually practised at Court. At other times, out of term, the greater part apply themselves to the study of the law. Upon festival days, and after the offices of the church are over, they employ themselves in the study of sacred and profane history. … I need not be particular in describing the manner and method of how the laws are studied in those places. … But I may say in the general, that it is pleasant, excellently well adapted for proficiency, and every way worthy of your esteem and encouragement. One thing more I will beg leave to observe, viz., that neither at Orleans, where both the Canon and the Civil Laws are professed and studied: and whither students resort from all parts: neither at Angiers, Caen, nor any other University in France (Paris excepted), are there so many students who have past their minority (studentes infantiam evasi), as in our Inns of Court, where the natives only are admitted.”

To this it must be added that in term time the students attended the Courts and listened to the cases argued before the judges. In vacation time they attended in their own Inns and heard lectures by the appointed readers, who usually selected some statute or some branch of law for their subject. After this they took part in moots where supposed cases were discussed by them or their fellow students before the utter bar, the reader or sometimes the benchers, and they studied in their chambers or in the libraries to which they had access, the accepted digests of the law and the commonplace books of the counsel whose pupils they were. The system of test by examination was then unknown, and the only qualification seems to have been that the student should have spent a certain time in the Inn and have taken part in a certain number of moots.

This then was the condition of the Inner Temple in the twenty-first year of King Henry VII., when the earliest of our existing records begin [1505].




An officer of the Court of Common Pleas who ingrossed the fines levied in that court.

Pension & Pension Roll

The pension was the contribution, assessed by parliament upon the members of the Inn towards the general expenses of the Society.


The collector of pensions.


Grand, Learning or Reading Vacations: there were two in the year; the one called the Lent Vacation began on the first Monday in Clean Lent, and the other, called the Autumn or Summer Vacation, commenced on the first Monday after Lammas Day (Aug. 1), and each continued three weeks and three days. It was in these vacations that the Readers held their readings. Clean Lent is perhaps synonymous with Clean Monday, the first day of Great Lent for Catholics.