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CHARLES G. ADDISON, ESQ. The history of the Knights Templars, Temple Church, and the Temple

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CHARLES G. ADDISON, ESQ.
The history of the Knights Templars, Temple Church, and the Temple
page 381



mother anil 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." * Tbe two societies of the Temple are of equal an tiquity ; 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 con tained 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 Angliœ, tells us that in his time the annual expenses of each law-student amounted to more than 28/., (equal to * Burlon'i Leicestershire, p. 235. t After the courts of Κ iug'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 barristers of the King* Bench and Exchequer were, consequently, at ditTerent times, commanded by writ to take upon them the degree of the coi/, and transfer their practice to the Common Pleas.


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