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The Black Books

Although fragments of records from before 1422 exist, the Black Books, minutes of the Inn’s Council, survive in an unbroken sequence from 1422 – the earliest administrative records of any Inn of Court. The earliest volumes (1 – 4, covering the period 1422 – 1562) are written in a mixture of English, French and Latin. Volumes 5 – 9 (covering the period 1562 – 1691) are written in a mixture of English and Latin.

These volumes (and their successor volumes to 1965) have been translated and published. This version is available via The published volumes contain folio references to the original documents which makes them ideal for cross-referencing. When preparing the volumes for publication, the editors did not produce full transcripts, but a precis of the documents. This means that these digitised images of the originals represent the first time that the full original text of the Black Books has been publicly available.

To watch a short film discussing the content of the Black Books click here Into the archives.