Map A: All Legal Inns, 1292-1350
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Map A shows the earliest known legal inns in the “legal quarter” of the city. These legal inns were started when common law schools were banned from within the city walls in the thirteenth century, first by a papal bull in 1218 and then by a decree of Henry III in 1234. Common law teaching, therefore, jumped the city walls into the neighboring suburban ward of Farringdon to the west. Documentation mentioning the legal inns, none of it detailed, begins in the 1340s with the Inns of Court and the earliest Inns of Chancery, so it is likely that there were other informal inns whose existence in unknown earlier in the fourteenth century. The focus of this map is on the Farringdon area before the founding of the “great inn” by the Chancery clerk John Tamworth in 1350.
The Earlier Inns
Of the inns marked with green labels, only two, Thavies Inn and Clifford’s Inn, survived as “Inns of Chancery” by the time of Fortescue. Furnival’s Inn is shown as on the base map, but in 1350 it was not yet an Inn of Chancery.
- Thavies Inn or “Davy’s” Inn. It was once thought to be run by John Davy, a chancery clerk, but modern research has concluded that Davy the Chancery clerk never existed. The misunderstanding comes from a simple confusion of “Thavies” and “Davy’s.” John Tavy was a successful armorer. At least a portion of his property holdings on the south side of Holborn was his own shop and perhaps rooms for his apprentices. Parts of Tavy’s property had been let to apprentices (of the law?) before Thavy’s death in 1348/49. Thavies Inn was organized as a law society by the 1340s. Beyond those facts, the property history of this section of Holborn is complex. As the map shows, most of it ended up in the early 1370s in the hands of the Chancery clerk William Mirfield, who seems to have consolidated properties earlier held at various times by Chancery clerks William Newenham, Robert de Kelsey, Roger de Bamborough, Elis de Sutton, Thomas Cotingham the elder and younger (c. 1339-1370), and by John Travers, Justice of the Common Bench. Mirfield was unable to sustain his new holdings, however, as he died within a few years of the consolidation, by 1380. This area of Holborn was the first major site of Chancery clerk involvement with inn holding.
- Clifford’s Inn was leased in 1340 to David Wollore, Keeper of the Rolls of the Chancery, and in 1344 to apprentices to the law, so it is one of the earliest Inns of Chancery. Despite the proximity to the Chancery headquarters (which by the fourteenth century was established in the Domus Conversorum or House of [Jewish] Converts on Chancery Lane), the legal society of Clifford’s Inn had no real connections with Chancery clerks other than Wollore.
Other Possible Inns
The following are mapped and described in detail by Williams, but omitted by Baker, who says that Williams “tended to assume, without evidence, that any house belonging to a judge or official would have contained a body of clerks and students” (IoC, p. 6 n. 34). We leave to other scholars to judge the validity of Williams’ evidence, when it is possible to check it. These inns are therefore more likely proto-Inns of Chancery but should at least be noted on a map of medieval legal London. See the TIC for the basic details. The other early inns might include:
- Bardelby’s Inn.
- Willoughby’s Inn. Baker believes that it was probably not a legal inn but Willoughby’s home, and that the real legal inn was St. George’s Inn/The Long Entry in the same area.
- Scrope’s Inn.
- The Bishop of Chichester’s Inn probably had as residents both clerks of the Chancery (it was right across from the Domus Conversorum and hence very convenient for clerks) and apprentices-to-the-law in the fourteenth century to at least 1350, but it was leased to the current Lincoln’s Inn in 1422. Previously members of Lincoln’s Inn had occupied perhaps two properties, including one on Holborn.
- General Introduction
- Table of the Inns of Chancery
- Map A: All Legal Inns, 1292-1350
- Map B: Minor Legal Inns, 1350-1425
- Map C: All Legal Inns, 1292-1500
- Map D. Chancery Clerks’ Holdings 1350-1425
- Map E. Chancery Clerks’ New Inns 1425-1500
- Map F: Inns of Chancery, c. 1470
- Other Maps of the Legal Inns
- Chancery Clerks