Thavie's Inn - Bishops, Earls, and Thomas Called 'of Lincoln'

Bishops, Earls, and Thomas Called 'of Lincoln'

The Templar Order had its first house in Holborn street from sometime in the reign of King Stephen, building one of their characteristic round churches on the site, located at what is now Southampton Buildings, next to Chancery Lane. The Templars relocated to the present Temple area in 1161, selling the first property to Robert de Chesney Bishop of Lincoln as his 'London' palace. Bishops were then also senior government officers of the Crown and those of Lincoln where often the chancellor, the king's most senior officer.

The Dominicans or 'Black Friars' arrived at Holborn in 1224, extending and developing their estate in Holborn and southwards to Fleet Street. It is alleged that the Archbishop of Canterbury induced them to relocate to the nearby Thames side and eastern side of the Fleet in 1279, to an area better known since then as 'Blackfriars'. They sold their old property to Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln in that year. It is the claim of Lincoln's Inn that it derives its name from the Earl as its patron.

In 1369, the Benedictine cleric, the Abbot of Malmesbury, also required a London establishment for his affairs and the Benedictine Order acquired "Lyncolnesynne", that of one Thomas of Lincoln, who was a Serjeant at law, and thus a local landlord unrelated to the ecclesiastical or lay magnates of bearing a similar title/name. The Abbot did not occupy all of the buildings himself, instead letting them out to various tenants, perhaps some of them law apprentices and their masters. Thomas of Lincoln's property is located at what is now Furnivall Street, on the south-side of Holborn. This former site of "Lyncolnesynne" was close to the Thavie's Inn and Furnival's Inn sites.

The derivation of the present Lincoln's Inn name could simply be in reference to the group who migrated to the present 'Chichester Inn' site of Lincoln's Inn, in Chancery Lane, from this earlier Thomas's inn. At the latest, this was done by 1442, so that the group must have occupied at some time before something called 'Lincoln's Inn'. The Black Books start some twenty years before this move. Thavy's property itself was, however, a sub-division of Earl Henry de Lacy's manor so that the association of lawyers may have acquired their collective name from any informal affinity with the leading magnate's local interests.

As to why the Inns of Chancery became subject to the Inns of Court is a moot point; it is, however, notable that the two subject to Lincoln's Inn (Thavie's and Furnival's) were not adjacent to its present site, unlike the dispositions of the other Chancery Inns to their patron Inns, but further east actually closer to the Thomas de Lincoln site.

Lincoln's Inn sold Thavie's Inn for redevelopment in 1785, the proceeds being used to erect 'Stone Buildings'.

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