Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

September Books 15) King's Inns and the Kingdom of Ireland, by Colum Kenny

A history of the King's Inns, the professional society for Irish lawyers, starting in 1541 and taking us up to 1800 and the Act of Union. For most of that period, the King's Inns were located on the north side of the Liffey, immediately to the east of where the Four Courts are now - the Four Courts themselves were based in the grounds of Christchurch Cathedral for most of that time.

My biggest take from this is that it cannot have been hugely convenient for lawyers to oscillate back and forth across the river between the Inns and the cathedral, especially considering that the bridge was a toll bridge. Still, the building had a strategic location. It was where senior Irish judges plotted the return of Charles II at a time when Ireland was being ruled by Oliver Cromwell's younger brother. Thirty years on, Charles II's younger brother James II chose it as the location of the 1689 Patriot Parliament, which was of course expunged from history after he lost the war.

I still think that location is the biggest reason why the organisation had difficulty finding its feet. In addition, Irish lawyers were expected to have attended the Inns in London before they were allowed to join the Dublinn body and practice their profession. Also of course in areas less under central control it was difficult to enforce the principle that lawyers had to be members of the King's Inns. And it would have helped if there had been some educational function - indeed, I wasn't left very clear as to what the function of King's Inns actually was, other than providing office space for lawyers.

I didn't get much of what I wanted from this book - I was hoping to find lots more about my ancestor Sir Nicholas White, who was one of the early members. But there was enough interesting material to keep me engaged.
Tags: bookblog 2014, tudor ireland
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