Antiquities in the Temple--The history of the
place subsequent to the dissolution of the order of the Knights Templars--The
establishment of a society of lawyers in the Temple--The antiquity of this
society--Its connexion with the antient society of the Knights Templars--An
order of knights and serving brethren established in the law--The degree of
frere serjen, or frater serviens, borrowed from the antient
Templars The modem Templars divide themselves into the two societies of the
Inner and Middle Temple.
"Those bricky towers,
The which on Themme's brode aged back do ride.
Where now the studious lawyers have their bowers;
There whilom wont the Templer Knights to bide,
Till they decayed thro pride."
THERE are but few remains of the antient
Knights Templars now existing in the Temple beyond the church. The present
Inner Temple Hall was their antient hall, but it has at different periods been
so altered and repaired as to have lost every trace and vestige of antiquity.
In the year 1816 it was almost entirely rebuilt, and the following extract
from "The Report and Observations of the Treasurer on the late Repairs of the
[paragraph continues] Hall" may prove
interesting, as showing the state of the edifice previous to that period
"From the proportions, the state of decay, the
materials of the eastern and southern walls, the buttresses of the southern
front, the pointed form of the roof and arches, and the rude sculpture on the
two doors of public entrance, the hall is evidently of very great antiquity .
. . . . The northern wall appears to have been rebuilt, except at its two
extremities, in modern times, but on the old foundations. . . . The roof was
found to be in a very decayed and precarious state; many timbers were totally
rotten. It appeared to have undergone reparation at three separate periods of
time, at each of which timber had been unnecessarily added, so as finally to
accumulate a weight which had protruded the northern and southern walls. It
became, therefore, indispensable to remove all the timber of the roof, and to
replace it in a lighter form. On removing the old wainscoting of the western
wall, a perpendicular crack of considerable height and width was discovered,
which threatened at any moment the fall of that extremity of the building with
its superincumbent roof. . . . . . The turret of the clock and the southern
front of the hall are only cased with stone; this was done in the year 1741,
and very ill executed. The structure of the turret, composed of chalk,
rag-stone, and rubble, (the same material as the walls of the church,) seems
to be very antient . . . . The wooden cupola of the bell was so decayed as to
let in the rain, and was obliged to be renewed in a form to agree with the
other parts of the southern front."
"Notwithstanding the Gothic character of the
building, in the year 1680, during the treasurership of Sir Thomas Robinson,
prothonotary of C.B., a Grecian screen of the Doric order was erected,
surmounted by lions' heads, cones, and other incongruous devices."
"In the year 1741, during the treasurership of
esq., low windows of Roman architecture were
formed in the southern front."
"The dates of such innovations appear from
inscriptions with the respective treasurers names."
This antient hall formed the far-famed
refectory of the Knights Templars, and was the scene of their proud and
sumptuous hospitality. Within its venerable walls they at different periods
entertained king John, king Henry the Third, the haughty legates of Roman
pontiffs, and the ambassadors of foreign powers. The old custom, alluded to by
Matthew Paris, of hanging around the wall the shields and armorial devices of
the antient knights, is still preserved, and each succeeding treasurer of the
Temple still continues to hoist his coat of arms on the wall, as in the high
and palmy days of the warlike monks of old.
At the west end of the hall are considerable
remains of the antient convent of the Knights Templars. A groined Gothic arch
of the same style of architecture as the oldest part of the Temple Church
forms the ceiling of the present buttery, and in the apartment beyond is a
groined vaulted ceiling of great beauty. The ribs of the arches in both rooms
are elegantly moulded, but are sadly disfigured with a thick coating of
plaster and barbarous whitewash. In the cellars underneath these rooms are
some old walls of immense thickness, the remains of an antient window, a
curious fireplace, and some elegant pointed Gothic arches corresponding with
the ceilings above; but they are now, alas! shrouded in darkness, choked with
modern brick partitions and staircases, and soiled with the damp and dust of
many centuries. These interesting remains form an upper and an under story,
the floor of the upper story being on a level with the floor of the hall, and
the floor of the under story on a level with the terrace on the south side
thereof. They were formerly connected with the church
by means of a covered way or cloister, which
ran at right angles with them over the site of the present cloister-chambers,
and communicated with the upper and under story of the chapel of St. Anne,
which formerly stood on the south side of the church. By means of this
corridor and chapel the brethren of the Temple had private access to the
church for the performance of their strict religious duties, and of their
secret ceremonies of admitting novices to the vows of the order. In 9 Jac. I.
A.D. 1612, some brick buildings three stories high were erected over this
antient cloister by Francis Tate, esq., and being burnt down a few years
afterwards, the interesting covered way which connected the church with the
antient convent was involved in the general destruction, as appears from the
following inscription upon the present buildings:
"VETUSTISSIMA TEMPLARIORUM PORTICU IGNE
CONSUMTA, ANNO 1678, NOVA HĘC, SUMPTIBUS MEDII TEMPLI EXTRUCTA ANNO 1681
GULIELMO WHITELOCKE ARMIGERO, THESAURARIO.
"The very antient portico of the Templars being
consumed by fire in the year 1678, these new buildings were erected at the
expense of the Middle Temple in the year 1681, William Whitlock, esq., being
The cloisters of the Templars formed the
medium of communication between the hall, the church, and the cells of the
serving brethren of the order.
During the formation of the present new
entrance into the Temple by the church, at the bottom of the Inner
Temple-lane, a considerable portion of the brickwork of the old houses was
pulled down, and an antient wall of great thickness was disclosed. It was
composed of chalk, rag-stone, and rubble, exactly resembling the walls of the
church. It ran in a direction east and west, and
appeared to have formed the extreme northern
boundary of the old convent.
The site of the remaining buildings of the
antient Temple cannot now be determined with certainty.
The mansion-house, (Mansum Novi Templi,)
the residence of the Master and knights, who were lodged separately from the
serving brethren and ate at a separate table, appears to have stood at the
east end of the hall, on the site of the present library and apartments of the
masters of the bench.
The proud and powerful Knights Templars were
succeeded in the occupation of the TEMPLE by a body of learned lawyers, who
took possession of the old hall and the gloomy cells of the military monks,
and converted the chief house of their order into the great and most antient
Common Law University of England.
For more than five centuries the retreats of
the religious warriors have been devoted to "the studious and eloquent
pleaders of causes," a new kind of Templars, who, as Fuller quaintly observes,
now "defend one Christian from another as the old ones did Christians from
Pagans." The modern Templars have been termed milites justitię, or "soldiers
of justice," for, as John of Salisbury, a writer of the twelfth century,
saith, "neque reipublicę militant soli illi, qui galeis thoracisque muniti in
hostes exercent tela quęlibet, sed et patroni causarum, qui lapsa erigunt,
fatigata reparant, nec minus provident humano generi, quam si laborantium
vitam, spem, posterosque, armorum pręsidio, ab hostibus tuerentur." "They do
not alone fight for the state who, panoplied in helmets and breastplates,
wield the sword and the dart against the enemy, for the pleaders of causes,
who redress wrongs, who raise up the oppressed, do protect and provide for the
human race as much as if they were to defend the
lives, fortunes, and families of industrious
citizens with the sword."
"Besides encounters at the bar
Are braver now than those in war,
In which the law does execution
With less disorder and confusion;
Has more of honour int, some bold,
Not like the new way, but the old,
When those the pen had drawn together
Decided quarrels with the feather,
And winged arrows killed as dead,
And more than bullets now of lead:
So all their combats now, as then,
Are managed chiefly by the pen;
That does the feat, with braver vigours,
In words at length, as well as figures."
The settlement of the lawyers in the Temple was
brought about in the following manner.
On the imprisonment of the Knights
Templars, the chief house of the order in London, in common with the other
property of the military monks, was seized into the king's hands, and was
committed to the care of James le Botiller and William de Basing, who, on the
9th of December, A.D. 1311, were commanded to hand it over to the sheriffs of
London, to be taken charge of by them. *
Two years afterwards the Temple was granted to that powerful nobleman, Aymer
de Valence, earl of Pembroke, who had been one of the leaders of the baronial
conspiracy against Piers Gavaston. As Thomas earl of Lancaster, however,
claimed the Temple by escheat as the immediate lord of the fee, the earl of
Pembroke, on the 3rd of Oct., A.D. 1316, at
the request of the king, and in
consideration of other lands being granted to him by his sovereign, remised
and released all his right and title therein to Lancaster. *
This earl of Lancaster was cousin-german to the English monarch, and first
prince of A the blood; he was the most powerful and opulent subject of the
kingdom, being possessed of no less than six earldoms, with a proportionable
estate in land, and at the time that the Temple was added to his numerous
other possessions he was at the head of the government, and ruled both the
king and country as president of the council. In an antient MS. account of the
Temple, formerly belonging to lord Somers and afterwards to Nicholls, the
celebrated antiquary, apparently written by a member of the Inner Temple, it
is stated that the lawyers "made composition with the earl of Lancaster for a
lodging in the Temple, and so came hither, and have continued here ever
since." That this was the case appears highly probable from various
circumstances presently noticed.
The earl of Lancaster held the Temple rather
more than six years and a half.
When the king's attachment for Hugh le
Despenser, another favourite, was declared, he raised the standard of
rebellion. He marched with his forces against London, gave law to the king and
parliament, and procured a sentence of attainder and perpetual exile against
Hugh le Despenser. The fortune of war, however, soon turned against him. He
was defeated, and conducted a prisoner to his own castle of Pontefract, where
king Edward sat in judgment upon him, and sentenced him to be hung, drawn, and
quartered, as a rebel and a traitor. The same day he was clothed in mean
attire, was placed on a lean jade without a bridle, a hood was put on his
head, and in this miserable
condition he was led through the town of
Pontefract to the place of execution, in front of his own castle. *
A few days afterwards, the king, whilst he yet
tarried at Ponfract, granted the Temple to Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke,
by a royal charter couched in the following terms:--
"Edward by the grace of God, king, &c.,
to the archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, earls, barons, justiciaries, &c.
&c., health. Know that on account of the good and laudable service which our
beloved kinsman and faithful servant Aymer de Valence hath rendered and will
continue to render to us, we have given and granted, and by our royal charter
have confirmed to the said earl, the mansion-house and messuage called the New
Temple in the suburb of London, with the houses, rents, and all other things
to the same mansion-house and messuage belonging, formerly the property of the
Templars, and afterwards of Thomas earl of Lancaster, our enemy and rebel, and
which, by the forfeiture of the same Thomas, have come into our hands by way
of escheat, to be had and holden by the same Aymer and the heirs of his body
lawfully begotten, of us and our heirs, and the other chief lords of the fee,
by the same services as those formerly rendered; but if the said Aymer shall
die without heirs of his body lawfully begotten, then the said mansion-house,
messuage, &c. &c., shall revert to us and our heirs."
Rather more than a year after the date of this
grant, Aymer de Valence was murdered. He had accompanied queen Isabella to the
court of her father, the king of France, and was there slain (June 23rd, A.D.
1323) by one of the English fugitives of the Lancastrian faction, in revenge
for the death of the earl of Lancaster, whose destruction he was believed to
[paragraph continues] His dead body was brought
over to England, and buried in Westminster Abbey at the head of Edmund
Crouchback, earl of Lancaster. He left no issue, and the Temple, consequently,
once more reverted to the crown.
It was now granted to Hugh le Despenser
the younger, the king's favourite, at the very time that the act of parliament
(17 Edward II.) was passed, conferring all the lands of the Templars upon the
Hospitaliers of St. John. Hugh le Despenser, in common
with the other barons, paid no attention to the parliament, and held the
Temple till the day of his death, which happened soon after, for on the 24th
of September, A.D. 1326, Queen Isabella landed in England with the remains of
the Lancastrian faction; and after driving her own husband, Edward the Second,
from the throne, she seized the favourite, and caused him instantly to be
condemned to death. On St. Andrew's Eve he was led out to execution; they put
on him his surcoat of arms reversed, a crown of nettles was placed on his
head, and on his vestment they wrote six verses of the psalm, beginning,
Quid gloriaris in malitiā. After which be was
hanged on a gallows eighty feet high, and was then beheaded, drawn, and
quartered. His head was sent to London, and stuck upon the bridge; and of the
four quarters of his body, one was sent to York, another to Bristol, another
to Carlisle, and the fourth to Dover.
Thus perished the last private possessor of the
Temple at London.
The young prince, Edward the Third, now
ascended the throne, leaving his parent, the dethroned Edward the Second, to
the tender mercies of the gaolers of Berkeley Castle. He seized the
[paragraph continues] Temple, as forfeited to him
by the attainder of Hugh le Despenser, and committed it to the keeping of the
mayor of London, his escheator in the city. The mayor, as guardian of the
Temple, took it into his head to close the gate leading to the waterside,
which stood at the bottom of the present Middle Temple Lane, whereby the
lawyers were much incommoded in their progress backwards and forwards from the
Temple to Westminster. Complaints were made to the king on the subject, who,
on the 2nd day of November, in the third year of his reign, wrote as follows
to the mayor:
"The king to the mayor of London, his
escheator in the same city.
"Since we have been given to understand that
there ought to be a free passage through the court of the New Temple at London
to the river Thames, for our justices, clerks, and others, who may wish to
pass by water to Westminster to transact their business, and that you keep the
gate of the Temple shut by day, and so prevent those same justices, clerks of
ours, and other persons, from passing through the midst of the said court to
the waterside, whereby as well our own affairs as those of our people in
general are oftentimes greatly hindered, we command you, that you keep the
gates of the said Temple open by day, so that our justices and clerks, and
other persons who wish to go by water to Westminster, may be able so to do by
the way to which they have hitherto been accustomed.
"Witness ourself at Kenilworth, the 2nd
day of November, and third year of our reign."
The following year the king again wrote to the
mayor, his escheator in the city of London, informing him that he had been
given to understand that the bridge in the said court of the Temple, leading
to the river, was so broken and decayed, that his clerks and law officers, and
others, could no longer get across it, and were consequently prevented from
passing by water to Westminster. "We therefore," he proceeds, "being desirous
of providing such a remedy as we ought for this evil, command you to do
whatever repairs are necessary to the said bridge, and to defray the cost
thereof out of the proceeds of the lands and rents appertaining to the said
Temple now in your custody; and when we shall have been informed of the things
done in the matter, the expense shall be allowed you in your account of the
"Witness ourself at Westminster, the 15th
day of January, and fourth year of our reign."
Two years afterwards (6 E. III, A.D.
1333) the king committed the custody of the Temple to "his beloved clerk,"
William de Langford, "and farmed out the rents and proceeds thereof to him for
the term of ten years, at a rent of 24l. per annum, the said William
undertaking to keep all the houses and tenements in good order and repair, and
so deliver them up at the end of the term."
In the mean time, however, the pope, the
bishops, and the Hospitaliers had been vigorously exerting themselves to
obtain a transfer of the property, late belonging to the Templars, to the
order of the Hospital of Saint John. The Hospitaliers petitioned the king,
setting forth that the church, the cloisters, and other places within the
Temple, were consecrated and dedicated to the service of God, that they had
been unjustly occupied and detained
from them by Hugh le Despenser the younger,
and, through his attainder, had lately come into the king's hands, and they
besought the king to deliver up to them possession thereof. King Edward
accordingly commanded the mayor of London, his escheator in that city, to take
inquisition concerning the premises.
From this inquisition, and the return
thereof, it appears that many of the founders of the Temple Church, and many
of the brethren of the order of Knights Templars, then lay buried in the
church and cemetery of the Temple; that the bishop of Ely had his lodging in
the Temple, known by the name of the bishop of Ely's chamber; that there was a
chapel dedicated to St. Thomas-ą-Becket, which extended from the door of the
TEMPLE HALL as far as the ancient gate of the Temple; also a cloister which
began at the bishop of Ely's chamber, and ran in an easterly direction; and
that there was a wall which ran in a northerly direction as far as the said
king's highway; that in the front part of the cemetery towards the north,
bordering on the king's highway, were thirteen houses formerly erected, with
the assent and permission of the Master and brethren of the Temple, by Roger
Blom, a messenger of the Temple, for the purpose of holding the lights and
ornaments of the church; that the land whereon these houses were built, the
cemetery, the church, and all the space inclosed between St. Thomas's chapel,
the church, the cloisters, and the wall running in a northerly direction, and
all the buildings erected thereon, together with the hall, cloisters, and St.
Thomas's chapel, were sanctified places dedicated to God; that Hugh le
Despenser occupied and detained them unjustly, and that through his attainder
and forfeiture, and not otherwise, they came into the king's hands.
After the return of this inquisition, the
said sanctified places were assigned to the prior and brethren of the Hospital
of Saint John; and the king, on the 11th of January, in the tenth year of his
reign, A.D. 1337, directed his writ to the barons of the Exchequer, commanding
them to take inquisition of the value of the said sanctified places, so given
up to the Hospitaliers, and of the residue of the Temple, and certify the same
under their seals to the king, in order that a reasonable abatement might be
made in William de Langford's rent. From the inquiry made in pursuance of this
writ before John de Shorditch, a baron of the Exchequer, it further appears
that on the said residue of the Temple upon the land then remaining in the
custody of William de Langford, and withinside the great gate of the Temple,
were another HALL *
and four chambers connected therewith, a kitchen, a garden, a stable, and a
chamber beyond the great gate; also eight shops, seven of which stood in Fleet
Street, and the eighth in the suburb of London, without the bar of the New
Temple; that the annual value of these shops varied from ten to thirteen,
fifteen, and sixteen shillings; that the fruit out of the garden of the Temple
sold for sixty shillings per annum in the gross; that seven out of the
thirteen houses erected by Roger Blom were each of the annual value of eleven
shillings; and that the eighth, situated beyond the gate of entrance to the
church, was worth four marks per annum. It appears, moreover, that the total
annual revenue of the Temple then amounted to 73l. 6s. 11d.,
equal to about 1,000l. of our
present money, and that William de Langford was abated 12l. 4s.
2d. of his said rent.
Three years after the taking of this
inquisition, and in the thirteenth year of his reign, A.D. 1340, king Edward
the Third in consideration of the sum of one hundred pounds, which the prior
of the Hospital promised to pay him towards the expense of his expedition into
France, granted to the said prior all the residue of the Temple then remaining
in the king's hands, to hold, together with the cemetery, cloisters, and the
other sanctified places, to the said prior and his brethren, and their
successors, of the king and his heirs, for charitable purposes, for ever.
From the above grant it appears that the porter of the Temple received sixty
shillings and tenpence per annum, and twopence a day wages, which were to be
paid him by the Hospitaliers.
At this period Philip Thane was prior of
the Hospital; and he appears to have exerted himself to impart to the
celebration of divine service in the Temple Church, the dignity and the
splendour it possessed in the time of the Templars. He, with the unanimous
consent and approbation of the whole chapter of the Hospital, granted to
Brother Hugh de Lichefeld, priest, and to his successors, guardians of the
Temple Church, towards the improvement of the lights and the celebration of
divine service therein, all the land called Ficketzfeld, and the garden called
Cotterell Garden; a and two years afterwards he made a further grant, to the
said Hugh and his successors, of a thousand-fagots a year to be cut of the
wood of Lilleston, and carried to the New Temple to keep up the fire in the
King Edward the Third, in the
thirty-fifth year of his reign, A.D. 1362, notwithstanding the grant of the
Temple to the Hospitallers, exercised the right of appointing to the porter's
office, and by his letters patent he promoted Roger Small to that post for the
term of his life, in return for the good service rendered him by the said
Roger Small. *
It is at this period that the first distinct
mention of a society of lawyers in the Temple occurs.
The poet Chaucer, who was born at the close of
the reign of Edward the Second, A.D. 1327, and was in high favour at court in
the reign of Edward the Third, thus speaks of the MANCIPLE, or the purveyor of
provisions of the lawyers in the Temple:
"A gentil Manciple was there of the TEMPLE,
Of whom achatours mighten take ensemple,
For to ben wise in hying of vitaille.
For whether that he paid or toke by taille,
Algate he waited so in his achate,
That he was aye before in good estate.
Now is not that of God a full fayre grace,
That swiche a lewed mannes wit shal pace,
The wisdome of an hepe of lerned men?"
"Of maisters had he mo than thries ten,
THAT WERE OP LAWE EXPERT AND CURIOUS:
Of which there was a dosein in that hous
Worthy to ben stewardes of rent and lond
Of any lord that is in Englelond,
To waken him live by his propre good,
In honour detteles, but if he were wood,
Or live as scarsly, as him list desire;
And able for to helpen all a shire,
In any cas that mighte fallen or happe;
And yet this manciple cette hir aller cappe."
It appears, therefore, that the lawyers in the
Temple, in the reign of Edward the Third, had their purveyor of provisions as
at this day, and were consequently then keeping commons, or dining together in
In the fourth year of the reign of Richard the
Second, A.D. 1381, a still more distinct notice occurs of the Temple, as the
residence of the learners and the learned in the law.
We are told in an antient chronicle, written in
Norman French, formerly belonging to the abbey of St. Mary's at York, that the
rebels under Wat Tyler went to the Temple and pulled down the houses, and
entered the church and took all the books and the rolls of remembrances which
were in the chests of the LEARNERS OF THE LAW in the Temple, and placed them
under the large chimney and burnt them. (Les rebels alleront a le TEMPLE et
jetteront les measons a la terre et avegheront tighles, issint que ils fairont
coverture en mal array; et alleront en lesglise, et pristeront touts les
liveres et rolles de remembrances, que furont en leur huches deins LE TEMPLE
DE APPRENTICES DE LA LEY; et porteront en le haut chimene et les arderont.")
And Walsingham, who wrote in the reign of Henry the Sixth, about fifty years
after the occurrence of these events, tells us that after the rebels, under
Wat Tyler and Jack Straw, had burnt the Savoy, the noble palace of John of
Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, they pulled down the place called Temple Barr, where
the apprentices or learners of the highest branch of the profession of the law
dwelt, on account of
the spite they bore to Robert Hales,
Master of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, and burnt many deeds which
the lawyers there had in their custody. ("Quibus perpetratis, satis malitiose
etiam locum qui vocatur Temple Barre, in quo apprenticii juris
morabantur nobiliores, diruerunt, ob iram quam conceperant contra
Robertum de Hales Magistrum Hospitalis Sancti Johannis Jerusalem, ubi plura
munimenta, quę Juridici in custodiā habuerunt, igne consumpta sunt." *
In a subsequent passage, however, he gives us a
better clue to the attack upon the Temple, and the burning of the deeds and
writings, for he tells us that it was the intention of the rebels to
decapitate all the lawyers, for they thought that by destroying them they
could put an end to the law, and so be enabled to order matters according to
their own will and pleasure. ("Ad decollandum omnes juridicos, escaetores, et
universos qui vel in lege docti fuere, vel cum jure ratione officii
communicavere. Mente nempe conceperant, doctis in lege necatis, universa juxta
communis plebis scitum de cętero ordinare, et nullam omnino legem fore futuram,
vel si futura foret, esse pro suorum arbitrio statuenda."
It is evident that the lawyers were the
immediate successors of the Knights Templars in the occupation of the Temple,
as the lessees of the earl of Lancaster.
Whilst the Templars were pining in captivity in
the dungeons of London and of York, king Edward the Second paid to their
servants and retainers the pensions they had previously received from the
treasury of the Temple, on condition that they continued to perform the
services and duties they had rendered to their antient masters. On the 26th of
November, A.D. 1311, he granted to Robert Styfford, clerk, for his maintenance
in the house of the Temple at London, two deniers a day, and five
shillings a year for necessaries,
provided he did service in the church; and when unable to do so, he was to
receive only his food and lodging. Geoffrey Talaver was to receive, in the
same house of the Temple, three deniers a day for his sustenance, and twenty
shillings a year for necessaries, during the remainder of his life; also one
denier a day for the support of his boy, and five shillings a year for his
wages. Geoffrey de Cave, clerk, and John de Shelton, were also, each of them,
to receive from the same house, for their good services, an annual pension of
forty shillings for the term of their lives. *
Some of these retainers, in addition to their various stipends, were to have a
gown of the class of free-serving brethren of the order of the Temple each
year; one old garment out of the stock of old garments belonging to the
brethren; one mark a year for their shoes, &c.; their sons also received so
much per diem, on condition that they did the daily work of the house.
These retainers were of the class of free servants of office; they held their
posts for life, and not being members of the order of the Temple, they were
not included in the general proscription of the fraternity. In return for the
provision made them by the king, they were to continue to do their customary
work as long as they were able.
Now it is worthy of remark, that many of the
rules, customs, and usages of the society of Knights Templars are to this day
observed in the Temple, naturally leading us to conclude that these domestics
and retainers of the antient brotherhood became connected with the legal
society formed therein, and transferred their services to that learned body.
From the time of Chaucer to the present
day, the lawyers have dined together in the antient hall, as the military
monks did before them; and the rule of their order requiring "two and two to
eat together," and "all the fragments to be given in brotherly charity to the
domestics," is observed to this day, and has been in force from time
immemorial. The attendants at table, moreover, are still called paniers,
as in the days of the Knights Templars. The leading
punishments of the Temple, too, remain the same as in the olden time. The
antient Templar, for example, for a light fault, was "withdrawn from the
companionship of his fellows," and not allowed "to eat with them at the same
table," and the modern Templar, for impropriety of conduct, is "expelled the
hall" and "put out of commons." The brethren of the antient fraternity were,
for grave offences, in addition to the above punishment, deprived of their
lodgings, and were compelled to sleep with the beasts in the open court; and
the members of the modern fellowship have in bygone times, as a mode of
punishment, been temporarily deprived of their chambers in the Temple for
misconduct, and padlocks have been put upon the doors. The Master and Chapter
of the Temple, in the time of the Knights Templars, exercised the power of
imprisonment and expulsion from the fellowship, and the same punishments have
been freely used down to a recent period by the Masters of the Bench of the
modern societies. Until of late years, too, the modern Templars have had their
readers, officers of great dignity, whose duty
it has been to read and expound LAW in the hall, at and after meals, in the
same way as the readers of the Knights Templars read and expounded RELIGION.
There has also been, in connexion with
the modern fellowship, a class of associates similar to the associates
of the antient Templars. These were illustrious persons
who paid large sums of money, and made presents of plate, to be admitted to
the fellowship of the Masters of the Bench; they were allowed to dine at the
Bench table, to be as it were honorary members of the society, but were freed
from the ordinary exercises and regulations of the house, and had at the same
time no voice in the government thereof.
The conversion of the chief house of the most
holy order of the Temple of Solomon in England into a law university, was
brought about in the following manner.
Both before, and for a very considerable period
after, the Norman conquest, the study of the law was confined to the
ecclesiastics, who engrossed all the learning and knowledge of the age. In
the reign of king Stephen, the foreign clergy who had flocked over after the
conquest, attempted to introduce the ancient civil law of Rome into this
country, as calculated to promote the power and advantage of their order, but
were resolutely resisted by the king and the barons, who clung to their old
customs and usages. The new law, however, was introduced into all the
ecclesiastical courts, and the clergy began to abandon the municipal
tribunals, and discontinue the study of the common law. Early in the reign of
Henry the Third, episcopal constitutions
were published by the bishop of
Salisbury, forbidding clerks and priests to practise as advocates in the
common law courts. (Nec advocati sint clerici vel sacerdotes in foro
sęculari, nisi vel proprias causas vel miserabilium personarum prosequantur. *)
Towards the close of the same reign, (A.D. 1254,) Pope Innocent IV. forbade
the reading of the common law by the clergy in the English universities and
seminaries of learning, because its decrees were not founded on the
imperial constitutions, but merely on the customs of the laity.
As the common law consequently gradually ceased
to be studied and taught by the clergy, who were the great depositaries of
legal learning, as of all other knowledge in those days, it became necessary
to educate and train up a body of laymen to transact the judicial business of
the country; and Edward the First, who, from his many legal reforms and
improvements, has been styled "the English Justinian," made the practice of
the common law a distinct profession.
In antient times the Court of Common Pleas
had the exclusive administration of the common law, and settled and
decided all the disputes which arose between subject and subject;
and in the twentieth year of the reign of Edward the First, (A.D. 1232,) the
privilege of pleading causes in this court was confined to a certain number of
learned persons appointed by authority. By an order in council, the king
commanded John de Metingham, chief justice of the Court of Common Pleas, and
the rest of his fellow justices, that they, according to their discretions,
and ordain from every county a certain
number of attorneys and apprentices of the law, of the best and most apt for
their learning and skill, to do service to his court and people, and those so
chosen should follow his court and transact the affairs therein, and no
others; the king and his council deeming the number of fourscore to be
sufficient for that employment; but it was left to the discretion of the said
justices to add to that number, or to diminish it, as they should think fit. *
At this period the Court of Common Pleas had
been fixed at Westminster, which brought together the professors of the common
law at London; and about the period of the dissolution of the order of the
Temple, a society appears to have been in progress of formation, under the
sanction of the judges, for the education of a body of learned secular lawyers
to attend upon that court. The deserted convent of the Knights Templars,
seated in the suburb of London, away from the noise and bustle of the city,
and presenting a ready and easy access by water to Westminster, was a
desirable retreat for the learned members of this infant legal society; and we
accordingly find, that very soon after the dissolution of the religio-military
order of Knights Templars, the professors of the common law of England
mustered in considerable strength in the Temple.
In the sixth year of the reign of Edward the
Third, (A.D. 1333,) when the lawyers had just established themselves in the
convent of the Temple, and had engrafted upon the old stock of Knights
Templars their infant society for the study of the practice of the common law,
the judges of the Court of Common Pleas were made KNIGHTS, being the earliest
instance on record
of the grant of the honour of knighthood for
services purely civil, and the professors of the common law, who had the
exclusive privilege of practising in that court, assumed the title or degree
of FRERES SERJENS or FRATRES SERVIENTES, so that knights and serving-brethren,
similar to those of the antient order of the Temple, were most curiously
revived and introduced into the profession of the law.
It is true that the word serviens,
serjen, or serjeant, was applied to the professors of the law long
before the reign of Edward the Third, but not to denote a privileged
brotherhood. It was applied to lawyers in common with all persons who did
any description of work for another, from the serviens domini regis ad
legem, who prosecuted the pleas of the crown in the county court, to the
serviens or serjen who walked with his cane before the concubine
of the Patriarch in the streets of Jerusalem. *
The priest who worked for the Lord was called serjens de Dieu, and the
lover who served the lady of his affections serjens damour. *
It was in the order of the Temple that the word freres serjens or
fratres servientes signified an honorary title or degree, and denoted a
powerful privileged class of men. The fratres servientes armigeri or
freres serjens des armes, of the chivalry of the Temple, were of the rank
of gentlemen. They united in their own persons the monastic and the military
character, they were allotted one horse each, they wore the red cross of the
order of the Temple on their breasts, they participated in all the privileges
of the brotherhood, and were eligible to the dignity of Preceptor. Large sums
of money were frequently given by seculars who had not been advanced to the
honour of knighthood,
to be admitted amongst this highly-esteemed
order of men.
The freres serjens of the Temple
wore linen coifs, and red caps close over them. *
At the ceremony of their admission into the fraternity, the Master of the
Temple placed the coif upon their heads, and threw over their shoulders the
white mantle of the Temple; he then caused them to sit down on the ground, and
gave them a solemn admonition concerning the duties and responsibilities of
their profession. They were warned that they must enter
upon a new life, that they must keep themselves fair and free from stain, like
the white garment that had been thrown around them, which was the emblem of
purity and innocence; that they must render complete and perfect obedience to
their superiors; that they must protect the weak, succour the needy, reverence
old men, and do good to the poor.
The knights and serjeants of the common law, on
the other hand, have ever constituted a privileged fraternity, and
always address one another by the endearing term brother. The religious
character of the antient ceremony of admission into this legal brotherhood,
which took place in church, and its striking similarity to the antient mode of
reception into the fraternity of the Temple, are curious and remarkable.
"Capitalis Justitiarius," says an antient
MS. account of the creation of serjeants-at-law in the reign of Henry the
Seventh, "monstrabat eis plura bona exempla de eorum prędecessoribus, et tunc
posuit les coyfes super eorum capitibus, et induebat eos
singulariter de capital de skarletto, et
sic creati fuerunt servientes ad legem." In his admonitory exhortation,
the chief justice displays to them the moral and religious duties of their
profession. "Ambulate in vocatione in quā vocati estis. . . . Disce cultum
Dei, reverentiam superioris (!), misericordiam pauperi." He
tells them the coif is sicut vestis candida et immaculata, the emblem
of purity and virtue, and he commences a portion of his discourse in the
scriptural language used by the popes in the famous bull conceding to the
Templars their vast spiritual and temporal privileges, "Omne datum optimum
et omne donum perfectum desursum est descendens a patre luminum, &c. &c.!
The freres serjens of the Temple were
strictly enjoined to "eat their bread in silence," and "place a watch upon
their mouths," and the freres serjens of the law, we are told, after
their admission, did "dyne together with sober countenance and lytel
The common-law lawyers, after their location in
the Temple, continued rapidly to increase, and between the reigns of Richard
the Second and Henry the Sixth, they divided themselves into two bodies. "In
the raigne of king Henry the Sixth," says the MS. account of the Temple,
written "Charles the First," they were soe multiplied and grown into soe great
a bulke as could not conveniently be regulated into one society, nor indeed
old hall capable of containing so great a
number, whereupon they were forced to divide themselves. A new hall was then
erected which is now the Junior Temple Hall, whereunto divers of those who
before took their repast and diet in the old hall resorted, and in process of
time became a distinct and divided society."
From the inquisition taken 10. E. III. A.D.
1337, it appears that in the time of the Knights Templars there were two
halls in the Temple, so that it is not likely that a fresh one was built.
One of these halls, the present Inner Temple Hall, had been assigned, the year
previous to the taking of that inquisition, to the prior and brethren of the
Hospital of Saint John, together with the church, cloisters, &c., as before
mentioned, whilst the other hall remained in the hands of the crown, and was
not granted to the Hospitallers until 13 E. III. A.D. 1340. It was probably
soon after this period that the Hospitaliers conceded the use of both halls
to the professors of the law, and these last, from dining apart and being
attached to different halls, at last separated into two societies, as at
"Although there be two several societies,
yet in sundry places they are promiscuously lodged together without any metes
or bounds to distinguish them, and the ground rooms in some places belong to
the new house, and the upper rooms to the old one, a manifest argument that
both made at first but one house, nor did they either before or after this
division claim by several leases, but by one entire grant. And as they took
their diet apart, so likewise were they stationed apart in the church, viz.
those of the Middle Temple on the left hand side as you go therein, and those
of the old house on the right hand side, and so it remains between them at
this day." *
Burton, the antiquary, who wrote in the reign
of queen Elizabeth, speaks of this "old house" (the Inner Temple) as "the
mother and most antient of all the other
houses of courts, to which," says he, "I must acknowledge all due respect,
being a fellow thereof, admitted into the same society on the 20th of May,
1593." * The
two societies of the Temple are of equal antiquity; the members in the
first instance dined together in one or other of the antient halls of the
Templars as it suited their convenience and inclination; and to this day, in
memory of the old custom, the benchers or antients of the one society dine
once every year in the hall of the other society. The period of the division
has been generally referred to the commencement of the reign of Henry the
Sixth, as at the close of that long reign the present four Inns of Court were
all in existence, and then contained about two thousand students. The Court of
King's Bench, the Court of Exchequer, and the Court of Chancery, had then
encroached upon the jurisdiction of the Common Pleas, and had taken cognizance
of civil causes between subject and subject, which were formerly decided in
that court alone. The legal business of the country had
consequently greatly increased, the profession of the law became highly
honourable, and the gentry and the nobility considered the study of it a
necessary part of education.
Sir John Fortescue, who was chief justice of
the King's Bench during half the reign of Henry the Sixth, in his famous
discourse de laudibus legum Anglię, tells us that in his time the
annual expenses of each law-student amounted to more than 28l., (equal
about 450l. of our present money.) that
all the students of the law were gentlemen by birth and fortune, and had great
regard for their character and honour; that in each Inn of Court there was an
academy or gymnasium, where singing, music, and dancing, and a variety
of accomplishments, were taught. Law was studied at stated periods, and on
festival days: after the offices of the church were over, the students
employed themselves in the study of history, and in reading the Holy
Scriptures. Everything good and virtuous was there taught, vice was
discouraged and banished, so that knights, barons, and the greatest of the
nobility of the kingdom, placed their sons in the Temple and the other Inns of
Court; and not so much, he tells us, to make the law their study, or to enable
them to live by the profession, as to form their manners and to preserve them
from the contagion of vice. "Quarrelling, insubordination, and murmuring, are
unheard of; if a student dishonours himself, he is expelled the society; a
punishment which is dreaded more than imprisonment and irons, for he who has
been driven from one society is never admitted into any of the others; whence
it happens, that there is a constant harmony amongst them, the greatest
friendship, and a general freedom of conversation."
The two societies of the Temple are now
distinguished by the several denominations of the Inner and the Middle Temple,
names that appear to have been adopted with reference to a part of the antient
Temple, which, in common with other property of the Knights Templars, never
came into the hands of the Hospitallers. After the lawyers of the Temple had
separated into two bodies and occupied distinct portions of ground, this part
came to be known by the name of the outward Temple, as being the farthest away
from the city, and is thus referred to in a manuscript in the British Museum,
written in the reign of James the First.--"A third part, called outward
Temple, was procured by
one Dr. Stapleton, bishop of Exeter, in
the days of king Edward the Second, for a residing mansion-house for him and
his successors, bishops of that see. It was called Exeter Inn until the reign
of the late queen Mary, when the lord Paget, her principal secretary of state,
obtained the said third part, called Exeter-house, to him and his heirs, and
did re-edify the same. After whom the said third part of the Templar's house
came to Thomas late duke of Norfolk, and was by him conveyed to Sir Robert
Dudley, knight, earl of Leicester, who bequeathed the same to Sir Robert
Dudley, knight, his son, and lastly, by purchase, came to Robert late earl of
Essex, who died in the reign of the late queen Elizabeth, and is still called
When the lawyers came into the Temple, they
found engraved upon the antient buildings the armorial bearings of the Knights
Templars, which were, on a shield argent, a plain cross gules, and (brochant
sur le tout) the holy lamb bearing the banner of the order, surmounted by
a red cross. These arms remained the emblem of the Temple until the fifth year
of the reign of queen Elizabeth, when unfortunately the society of the Inner
Temple, yielding to the advice and persuasion of Master Gerard Leigh, a member
of the College of Heralds, abandoned the antient and honourable device of the
Knights Templars, and assumed in its place a galloping winged horse called a
Pegasus, or, as it has been explained to us, "a horse striking the earth with
its hoof, or Pegasus luna on a field argent!" Master Gerard Leigh, we
are told, "emblazoned them with precious stones and planets, and by these
strange arms he intended to signify that the knowledge acquired at the learned
seminary of the Inner Temple would raise the professors of the law to the
highest honours, adding, by way of motto, volat ad ęthera virtus, and
he intended to allude to what are esteemed the more liberal sciences, by
giving them Pegasus
forming the fountain of Hippocrene, by striking
his hoof against the rock, as a proper emblem of lawyers becoming poets, as
Chaucer and Gower, who were both of the Temple!"
The society of the Middle Temple, with better
taste, still preserves, in that part of the Temple over which its sway
extends, the widely-renowned and time-honoured badge of the antient order of
The assumption of the prancing winged horse by
the one society, and the retention of the lamb by the other, have given rise
to the following witty lines--
"As thro the Templars' courts you go,
The lamb and horse displayed,
The emblematic figures show
The merits of their trade.
That clients may infer from hence
How just is their profession;
The lamb denotes their INNOCENCE,
The horse their EXPEDITION.
Oh, happy Britain! happy isle!
Let foreign nations say,
Here you get justice without guile,
And law without delay."
"Unhappy man! those courts forego,
These all are tricks,
Nor trust such cunning elves,
The artful emblems only show
Their clients, not themselves.
These all are shams,
With which they mean to cheat ye,
But have a care, for you're the LAMBS,
And they the wolves that eat ye.
Nor let the plea of no delay
To these their courts misguide ye,
For you're the PRANCING HORSE; and they
The jockeys that would ride you!"
344 P. 899, 900.
345 ante, p. 255.
347 Joan Sariaburiensis. Polycrat. lib.
vi. cap. 1.
347 Acta Rymeri, tom. iii. p. 296, 297.
347 Cart. vi. E. 2. n. 41. Trivet.
cont., p. 4. T. de la More, p. 593.
348 Pat. 8. E. 2. in. 17. The Temple is
described therein as "de feodo Thom ę Comitis Lancastrię, et de honore
349 Processus contra comitem Lancastrię. Acta
Rymeri, tom. iii. p. 936. Lel. coll. vol. i. p. 668. La More,
349 Cart. 15. E. II. m. 21. Acta Rymeri,
tom. iii. p. 940.
350 Dugd. Baron., vol. i. p. 777, 778.
350 Rot. Escaet. 1. E. III.
350 H. Knyghton, apud X script col. 2546.7.
Lel. Itin. vol. vi. p 86. Walsingham, 106.
350 Claus. 4. E. III. m. 9. Acta Rymeri,
tom. iv. p. 461.
351 There was in those days an escheator
in each county, and in various large towns: it was the duty of this officer to
seize into the king's hands all lands held in capite of the crown, on
receiving a writ De diem clausit extremum, commanding him to assemble a
jury to take inquisition of the value of the lands, as to who was the next
heir of the deceased, the rents and services by which they were holden, &c.
351 Claus 3. E. III. in. 6. d. Acta Rymeri,
tom. iv. p. 406.
352 Claus. 4. E. III. m. 7. Acta Rymeri,
tom. iv. p. 464.
352 Pat. 6. E. III. p. 2. m. 22. in original,
apud Rolls Garden ex parte Remembr. Thesaur.
353 Rot. Escaet. 10. E. 3. 66. Claus 11 E. 3.
p. 1. m. 10.
354 Sunt etiam ibidem claustrum, capella Sancti
Thomę, et quędam platea terrę eidem capellę annexata, cum una aula et
camera supra edificata, quę sunt loca sancta, et Deo dedicata, et dictę
ecclesię annexata, et eidem Priori per idem breve liberata . . . . Item dicunt,
quod pręter ista, sunt ibidem in custodia Wilielmi de Langford infra Magnam
Portam dicti Novi Templi, extra metas et disjunctions prędictas, una
aula et quatuor camerę, una coquina, unum gardinum, unum stabulum, et una
camera ultra Magnam Portam prędictam, &c.
355 In memorandis Scacc. inter recorda de
Termino Sancti Hilarii, 11. E. 3. in officio Remembratoris Thesaurarii.
355 Pat. 12. E. 3. p. 2. m. 22. Dugd.
Monasticon, vol. vii. p. 810, 811.
355 Ex registr. Sancti Johannis Jerus. fol.
141. a. Dugd. Monast., tom. vi. part 2, p. 832.
355 Ibid. ad ann. 1341.
356 Rex omnibus ad quota &c. salutem. Sciatis
quod de gratiā nostrā speciali, et pro bono servitio quod Rogerus Small nobis
impendit et impendat in futuro, concessimus ei officium Janitoris Novi
Templi London Habend. &c. pro vitā suā &c. pertinend. &c. omnia vada et
feoda &c. eodem modo qualia Robertus Petyt defunct. Qui officium illud ex
concessione domini Edwardi nuper regis Anglię patris nostri habuit . . . .
Teste meipso apud Westin. 5 die Aprilis, anno regni nostri 35. Pat. 35. E. 3.
p. 2. m. 33.
357 Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. The wages
of the Manciples of the Temple, temp. Hen. VIII. were xxxvis. viiid. per
annum. Bib. Cotton. Vitellius, c. 9. f. 320, a.
357 Annal. Olim-Sanctę Marię Ebor.
358 Walsing. 4 Ric. 2. ad ann. 1381.
Hist. p. 249, ed. 1603.
359 Rot. claus b. E. 2. m. 19. Acta Rymeri,
tom. iii. p. 292, 293, 294.
359 Unam robam per annum de secta liberorum
servientium, et quinque solidos per annum, et deserviat quamdiu poterit loco
liberi servientis in domo prędictā. Ib. m. 2. Acta Rymeri, tom. iii. p.
359 Quolibet anno ad Natale Domini unum vetus
indumentum de veteribus indumentis fratrum, et quolibet die 2 denarios pro
victu garcionis sui, et 5 solidos per annum per stipendiis ejusdem garcionis,
sed idem garcio deserviet in domo illā. Ib.
360 Thomas of Wothrope, at the trial of the
Templars in England, was unable to give an account of the reception of some
brethren into the order, quia erat panetarius et vacabat circa suum
officium. Concil. Mag. Brit., tom. ii. p. 355. Tunc panetarius mittat
comiti duos panes atque vini sextarium . . . Ita appellabant officialem
domesticum, qui mensę panem, mappas et manutergia subministrabat. Ducange,
Gloss. verb. panetarius.
360 Regula Templariorum, cap. lxvii.
ante p. 25.
360 Concil. Mag. Brit., tom. ii. p. 371
to 373, ante, p. 235.
361 Dugd. Orig. Jurid., p. 212.
361 Nullus clericus nisi causidicus. Will. Malm.,
lib. iv. f. 69. Radulph de Diceto, apud Hist. Angl. Script. Antiq.,
lib. vii. col. 606, from whom it appears that the chief justitiary and
justices itinerant were all priests.
362 Spelm. Concil., tom. ii. ad ann.
362 INNOCENTIUS, &c. . . . Pręterea cum in
Anglię, Scotię, Wallię regnis, causę laicorum non imperatoriis legibus, sed
laicorum consuetudinibus decidantur, fratrum nostrorum, et aliorum
religiosorum consilio et rogatu, statuimus quod in prędictis regnis leges
sęculares de cętero non legantur. Matt. Par., p. 883, ad ann.
1254, et in additamentis, p. 191.
363 Et quod ipsi quos ad hoc elegerint, curiam
sequantur, et se de negotiis in eadem curia intromittant, et alii non.
Et videtur regi et ejus concilio, quod septies vigenti sufficere poterint,
&c.--Rolls of Parl. 20. E. 1. vol. i. p. 84, No. 22.
363 Dugd. Orig. Jurid., cap. xxxix. p.
364 Ante, page 118. Mace-bearers, bell-ringers,
thief-takers, gaolers, bailiffs, public executioners, and all persons who
performed a specific task for another, were called servientes, serjens, or
serjeants.--Ducange Gloss. Pasquier's Researches, liv. viii. cap. 19.
364 Will. Tyr., lib. i. p. 50, lib. xii.
365 Dugd. Hist. Warwickshire, p. 704.
365 Et tunc Magister Templi dedit sibi
mantellum, et imposuit pileum capiti suo, et tunc fecit eum sedere ad terram,
injungens sibi, &c.--Acta contra Templarios. Concil. Mag. Brit.,
tom. ii. p. 380. See also p. 335.
365 It has been supposed that the coif
was first introduced by the clerical practitioners of the common law to hide
the tonsure of those priests who practised in the Court of Common
Pleas, notwithstanding the ecclesiastical prohibition. This was not the case.
The early portraits of our judges exhibit them with a coif of very much larger
dimensions than the coifs now worn by the serjeants-at-law, very much larger
than would be necessary to hide the mere clerical tonsure. A covering
for that purpose indeed would be absurd. The antient coifs of the serjeants-at-law
were small linen or silk cape fitting close to the top of the head. This
peculiar covering is worn universally in the East, where the people shave
their heads and cut their hair close. It was imported into Europe by the
Knights Templars, and became a distinguishing badge of their order. From the
freres serjens of the Temple it passed to the freres serjens of
366 Ex cod. MS. apud sub-thesaurarium Hosp.
Medii Templi, f. 4. a. Dugd. Orig. Jurid. cap. 43, 46.
367 MS. in Bib. Int. Temp. No. 17. fo. 408.
368 Burton's Leicestershire, p. 235.
368 After the courts of King's Bench and
Exchequer had by a fiction of law drawn to themselves a vast portion of the
civil business originally transacted in the Common Pleas alone, the degree of
serjeant-at-law, with its exclusive privilege of practising in the last-named
court, was not sought after as before. The advocates or banisters of the
King's Bench and Exchequer were, consequently, at different times, commanded
by writ to take upon them the degree of the coif, and transfer their
practice to the Common Pleas.
370 Malcom. Lond. Rediviv., vol. ii. p.