Lincoln's Inn Book Reader

The first volume of the Black Books covers the period 1422 – 1471. Most passages are written in Latin, others in English or Norman French.

Perhaps understandably given the antiquity of these records when they originally bound up some of the records for this period were missed from this volume and included with volume 2 instead. Thus the first 15 folios of volume 2 contain additional material for the period 1439 -56. (The printed Black Books incorporate this material chronologically but provide references to folios in volumes 1 and 2 as appropriate).

The first folios mainly consist of list of names. These were omitted from the published version of the Black Books but can be found in the published version of the Admissions Registers. (Lincoln’s Inn did not keep a separate Admissions Register until 1573. When publishing the Admissions Registers the editors gleaned the information from the Black Books).

The first substantial entry appears on folio 8r, which is headed “Ceux sont les nouns de ceux qe fuerent assignes de continuer yci le nowel, l’an primer H. vj.” In other words, this is the list of names of those who were assigned to keep Christmas here, in the first year [of the reign of] Henry VI [i.e. 1422]. This entry is a good example of the Norman French which is used in the early volumes of the books.

Folio 20 includes the first entry in English “The feast of Saynt Arkenwold…” This folio also contains the first reference to the Inn’s Revels – a major feature in the life of all the Inns of Court.

Many other entries relate to money received by or owed to the Society and the annual accounts of the Treasurer. The first reference to the office of Treasurer occurs on folio 93, when the position is recorded as being held by Thomas Umfray.

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