Map A: All Legal Inns, 1292-1350
Origins of the Legal Inns
This map shows the earliest known legal inns. Legal inns were started when 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. Legal 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. The focus of this map is on the Holborn area before the founding of the “great inn” by the Chancery clerk John Tamworth in 1350.
The Earlier Inns
Of the Inns of Court, Lincoln’s Inn was on Holborn from early in the fourteenth century and was the only peripatetic Inn of Court. 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 Tudor London 1989 map, but in 1350 it was not yet an Inn of Chancery.
- Thavies Inn was sometimes called “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 confusing. 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 1379. This area of Holborn was the first major area 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 (the Domus Conversorum or House of [Jewish] Converts on Chancery Lane), the legal society of Clifford’s Inn had no real Chancery connection.
Other Possible Inns
The following are mapped and described in detail by Williams, but omitted by Baker (Inns of Chancery, p. ??), 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” 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 be at least noted on a map of medieval legal London.
- Bardelby’s Inn. Robert Bardelby (d. 1328), chancery clerk under Edward I, lived with law students on Faitor’s Lane near Fleet Street.
- Sir Richard Willoughby was a justice who had an inn in the 1330s where apprentices lived and also some disreputable “rents” in the area. Baker believes that it was probably not a legal inn but Willoughby’s home, and that the real legal inn was The Long Entry in the same area (see next map).
- Scrope’s Inn was founded in 1334, mainly for Serjeant’s and judges but may have been used as a place of education in a minor way.
- Bishop of Chichester’s Inn possibly had 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 was leased to the current Lincoln’s Inn in 1422. Previously members of Lincoln’s Inn had occupied perhaps two properties, including the one on Holborn shown on the map.