1893 text

The Six Clerks’ Office was in Chancery Lane, near the Holborn end. The business of the office was to enrol commissions, pardons, patents, warrants, &c., that had passed the Great Seal; also other business in Chancery. In the early history of the Court of Chancery, the Six Clerks and their under-clerks appear to have acted as the attorneys of the suitors. As business increased, these under-clerks became a distinct body, and were recognized by the court under the denomination of ‘sworn clerks,’ or ‘clerks in court.’ The advance of commerce, with its consequent accession of wealth, so multiplied the subjects requiring the judgment of a Court of Equity, that the limits of a public office were found wholly inadequate to supply a sufficient number of officers to conduct the business of the suitors. Hence originated the ‘Solicitors’ of the Court of Chancery.” See Smith’s “Chancery Practice,” p. 62, 3rd edit. The “Six Clerks” were abolished by act of Parliament, 5 Vict. c. 5.

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

3 Annotations

First Reading

Terry F.  •  Link

Six Clerks' Office
On the west side of Chancery Lane, south of Carey Street, outside the City boundary (O. and M. 1677), opposite the Rolls.
First mention: 1520 (L. and P. H. VIII. V.p. 22).
Confirmation to the Six Clerks of Chancery and their successors of the house in Chancery Lane in their occupation formerly called "Harflu Inn," 31 H. VIII. (L. and P. H. VIII. XIV. (1), p.403).
Other references : Tenement of the Six Clerks called Harflete Inne," 35 H. VIII. 1543 (ib. XVIII. (1), p.530).
Stow says it belonged formerly to the Prior of Necton Parke, a house of Canons in Lincolnshire, called Hereflete Inne and was a Brewhouse, but "now faire builded for the Sixe Clearkes of the Chancerie" (S. 396).
In Lockie, 1810, and Elmes, 1831, it is described as at No.62, a few doors from Holborn, further north than formerly.
The site of the original office is now covered by the Law Institute.

From: 'Six Clerks' Office', A Dictionary of London (1918). URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/…. Date accessed: 19 July 2005.

Pauline  •  Link

from L&M Companion
An office of Chancery on the W. side of Chancery Lane, south of the modern Carey St, and opposite the Rolls. Rebuilt 1774-8 on a new site in the garden of Lincoln's Inn. The offices of the Law Society now cover the site.

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

Six Clerks, are Officers of great Account, next in Degree to the Twelve Masters in Chancery, whose Office is to inroll Commissions, Pardons, Patents, Warrants, &c. that are pass'd the Great-Seal. They were anciently Clerici, and afterwards forfeited their Places if they did marry, till by Act of Parliament, in the time of Henry VIII. they were allowed to take Wives.
They are also Attorneys for Plaintiffs and Defendants in Causes depending in this Court.
Under the afore-nam'd Six Clerks, there were Sixty, now Ninety other Clerks, viz. Ten to each of the Six Clerks, and who, with their Under-Clerks, dispatch the Business of that Office. Some of these Ninety, do severally get four, five, or six hundred Pounds per Annum, or more.
---Magnæ Britanniæ Notitia. E. Chamberlayne, 1710.

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