This is the first detailed analysis of English barristers and the Inns of Court in the period 1680-1730. The four Inns of Court have constituted the principal institutional home of common lawyers since medieval times, and by the early modern period were regarded as a `third university'. Barristers were the pre-eminent professional men of Augustan England. In parliament, they played a disproportionate role in the business of the Commons. David Lemmings traces the
history of the Inns and the barristers during an important period of transition. He shows how the Inns declined from their former splendour during the later seventeenth century until, by the reign of
George II, they were principally dormitories and offices for a mass of non-lawyers, and comfortable dining clubs for a minority of their members. At the same time, the number of practising barristers fell. Together these changes represented an invigorating purge which re-structured the legal profession. The processes of professionalization among different occupational groups are of increasing historical interest. Gentlemen and Barristers is an original and
thorough analysis of a major profession at a significant stage of its development. Dr Lemmings breaks new ground in his use of contemporary material, including the archives of the Inns of Court. His eleven
appendices, detailing the business and finances of the barristers, will prove an invaluable reference tool. The history of the Inns and the barristers necessarily touches upon many aspects of life in this period, including commerce, high politics, and elite culture. This story offers a fresh perspective on England under the last Stuarts and first Hanoverians.
`an interesting and important book ... in this deeply researched and informative book Dr Lemmings has established the platform from which future work will proceed.'
EHR Oct 1993
`Dr Lemmings has written an important book, likely to be of enduring value for the student of English society as well as for the specialist legal historian ... Gentlemen and Barristers marks a considerable achievement by a young scholar of very evident promise; one, moreover, who corrects the errors of others with a courtesy and restraint that are refreshing in the light of some recent historians' conviction that abrasiveness is the key to
Times Literary Supplement
Times Higher Education Supplement
`Lemmings' book is, to the knowledge of this reviewer, unique in its focus on this short yet highly significant period in the Bar's history ... clearly an important contribution to the literature on the development of the English legal profession.'
Neil Duxbury, Journal of Legal History, Vol.11, No.3, Dec '90
`This book sits comfortably alongside much of the excellent work that has been done recently to clear the fog surrounding the history of the legal professions; furthermore, it maintains the high reputation of meticulously researched works published in the Oxford Historical Monographs series.'
Ian Haywood, British Journal of Eighteenth Century Studies
`David Lemming's finely crafted monograph on the inns of court and the bar during the period from 1680 to 1730 does more than simply fill a chronological gap in this literature. He demonstrates that this was an important transitional period both for the insitutions where the common lawyers received their training and for the profession to which they belonged.' Brian P. Levack, American Historical Review, June 92
'Lemmings's study fills a lacuna in our knowledge of the history of the Inns of Court and of the English Bar in the crucial period 1680-1730. Particularly intriguing for us is the way he uses the rise and decline of the lawyer MP as an index for the rise and decline of party strife.'
Tim Harris, Brown University, Journal of Modern History, Volume 64, Number 4, December 1992
'a welcome and worthy addition to this distinguished body of work ... This is a solid, four-square book which provides a well researched and well rounded account of the English bar in the years it covers. Lemmings has provided us with a multi-faceted and scholarly book which will be of interest to all with an interest in the period he studies, to legal history, and ... to the history of the professions.'
J.A. Sharpe, University of York, Parliamentary History
List of figures; List of tables; List of abbreviations; Introduction; The student body of the inns of court; Residence and finance: the transformation of the inns of court community; The quantity and 'quality' of barristers; Formal and informal legal education; The practising bar: practice and professional development; The practising bar: reputation, wealth, and social development; Barristers in parliament; The pattern of preferment; Conclusion; Appendices;