The Temple Garden—The erection of new buildings in the Temple—The dissolution of the Order of the Hospital of Saint John—The law societies become leasees of the crown— The erection of the magnificent Middle Temple Hall— The conversion of the old hall into chambers—The grant of the inheritance of the Temple to the two law societies— Their magnificent present to his Majesty—Their ancient orders and customs, and ancient hospitality—Their grand entertainments—Reader’s feasts—Grand Christmasses and Revels—The fox-hunt in the hall—The dispute with the Lord Mayor—The quarrel with the custos of the Temple Church.
“PLANTAGENET. Great lords and gentlemen, what means this silence?
Dare no man answer in a case of truth?
SUFFOLK… Within the TEMPLE HALL we were too loud:
The GARDEN here is more convenient.”
SHAKSPEARE makes the Temple Garden, which is to this day celebrated for the beauty and profusion of its flowers, the scene of the choice of the white and red roses, as the badges of the rival houses of York and Lancaster. Richard Plantagenet and the earl of Somerset retire with their followers from the hall into the garden, where Plantagenet thus addresses the silent and hesitating bystanders:
“Since you are tongue-ty’d, and so loath to speak,
In dumb significants proclaim your thoughts:
Let him, that is a true-born gentleman,
And stands upon the honour of his birth,
If he suppose that I have pleaded truth,
From off this brier pluck a white rose with me.
Somerset. Let him that is no coward, nor no flatterer,
But dare maintain the party of the truth,
Pluck a red rose from off this thorn with me.
Warwick. I love no colours; and, without all colour
Of base insinuating flattery,
I pluck this white rose with Plantagenet.
Suffolk. I pluck this red rose with young Somerset,
And say withal I think he held the right.
Vernon. Then for the truth and plainness of the case,
I pluck this pale and maiden blossom here,
Giving my verdict on the white rose side.
Somerset. … Come on, who else?
Lawyer. Unless my study and my books be false,
The argument you held was wrong in you;
In sign whereof I pluck a white rose too. [To Somerset.
Warwick. … This brawl to-day,
Grown to this faction in the Temple Garden,
Shall send, between the red rose and the white,
A thousand souls to death and deadly night.”
In the Cotton Library is a manuscript written at the commencement of the reign of Henry the Eighth, entitled “A description of the Form and Manner, how, and by what Orders and Customs the State of the Fellowshyppe of the Myddil Temple is maintained, and what ways they have to attaine unto Learning.”* It contains a great deal of curious information concerning the government of the house, the readings, mot-yngs, boltings, and other exercises formerly performed for the advancement of learning, and of the different degrees of benchers, readers, cupboard-men, inner-barristers, utter-barristers, and students, together with “the chardges for their mete and drynke by the yeare, and the manner of the dyet, and the stipende of their officers.” The writer tells us that it was the duty of the “Tresorer to gather of certen of the fellowship a tribute yerely of iiis. iiid. a piece, and to pay out of it the rent due to my lord of Saint John’s for the house that they dwell in.”
“Item; they have no place to walk in, and talk and confer their learnings, but in the church; which place all the terme times hath in it no more of quietnesse than the perwyse of Pawles, by occasion of the confluence and concourse of such as be suters in the lawe.” The conferences between lawyers and clients in the Temple Church are thus alluded to by Butler:
“Retain all aorta of witnesses
That ply in the Temple under trees,
Or walk the Round with knights of the posts,
About the cross-legged knights their hosts.”
“Item; they have every day three masses said one after the other, and the first masse doth begin at seaven of the clock, or thereabouts. On festivall days they have mattens and masse solemnly sung; and during the matyns singing they have three masses said.”*
* MS. Bib. Cotton. Vitellius, c, 9, fol. 320, a.
At the commencement of the reign of Henry VIII. a wall was built between the Temple Garden and the river; the Inner Temple Hall was “seeled,” various new chambers were erected, and the societies expended sums of money, and acted as if they were absolute proprietors of the Temple, rather than as lessees of the Hospitallers of Saint John.
In 32 Hen. VIII. was passed the act of parliament dissolving the Order of the Hospital, and vesting all the property of the brethren in the crown, saving the rights and interests of lessees, and others who held under them.
The two law societies consequently now held of the crown.
In 5 Eliz. the present spacious and magnificent Middle Temple Hall, one of the most elegant and beautiful structures in the kingdom, was commenced, (the old hall being converted into chambers;) and in the reigns both of Mary and Elizabeth, various buildings and sets of chambers were erected in the Inner and Middle Temple, at the expense of the Benchers and members of the two societies. All this was done in full reliance upon the justice and honour of the crown. In the reign of James I., however, some Scotchman attempted to obtain from his majesty a grant of the fee-simple or inheritance of the Temple, which being brought to the knowledge of the two societies, they forthwith made “humble suit” to the king, and obtained a grant of the property to themselves. By letters patent, bearing date at Westminster the 13th of August, in the sixth year of his reign, A.D. 1609, King James granted the Temple to the Benchers of the two societies, their heirs and assigns for ever, for the lodging, reception, and education of the professors and students of the laws of England, the said Benchers yielding and paying to the said king, his heirs, and successors, ten pounds yearly for the mansion called the Inner Temple, and ten pounds yearly for the Middle Temple.†
In grateful acknowledgment of this donation, the two societies caused to be made, at their mutual cost, “a stately cup of pure gold, weighinge two hundred ounces and an halfe, of the value of one thousand markes, or thereabouts, the which in all humbleness was presented to his excellent majestie att the court att Whitehall, in the said sixth year of his majestie’s raigne over the realme of England, for a new yeare’s gifte, by the hands of the said sir Henry Mountague, afterwards baron Mountague, viscount Mandevil, the earl of Manchester, Richard Daston, esq., and other eminent persons of both those honourable societies, the which it pleased his majesty most gratiously to accept and receiue … Upon one side of this cup is curiously engraven the proporcion of a church or temple beautified, with turrets and pinnacles, and on the other side is figured an altar, whereon is a representation of a holy fire, the flames propper, and over the flames these words engraven, Nil nisi vobis. The cover of this rich cup of gold is in the upper parte thereof adorned with a fabrick fashioned like a pyramid, whereon standeth the statue of a military person leaning, with the left hand upon a Roman-fashioned shield or target, the which cup his excellent majestie, whilst he lived, esteemed for one of his roialest and richest jewells.”*
* MS. Bib. Cotton, c. 9, fol. 320, a.
† Hargrove, MS. No. 19, 81. f. 5. fol. 46.
Some of the ancient orders and regulations for the government of the two societies are not unworthy of attention.
From the record of a parliament holden in the Inner Temple on the 15th of November, 3 and 4 Ph. and Mary, A.D. 1558, it appears that eight gentlemen of the house, in the previous reading vocation, “were committed to the Fleete for wilfull demenoure and disobedience to the Bench, and were worthyly expulsed the fellowshyppe of the house, since which tyme, upon their humble suite and submission unto the said Benchers of the said house, it is agreed that they shall be readmitted into the fellowshyppe, and into commons again, without payeing any ffine.”† Amongst the ancient customs and usages derived from the Knights Templars, which were for a lengthened period religiously preserved and kept up in the Temple, was the oriental fashion of long beards. In the reign of Philip and Mary, at the personal request of the queen, attempts were made to do away with this time-honoured custom, and to limit the length of a lawyer’s beard.
On the 22nd of June, 3 and 4 Philip and Mary, A.D. 1557, it was ordered that none of the companies of the Inner and Middle Temple, under the degree of a knight being in commons, should wear their beards above three weeks growing, upon pain of XLs., and so double for every week after monition. They were, moreover, required to lay aside their arms, and it was ordered “that none of the companies, when they be in commons, shall wear Spanish cloak, sword and buckler, or rapier, or gownes and hats, or gownes girded with a dagger;” also, “that “none of the companions, except Knights or Benchers, should thenceforth wear in their doublets or hoses any light colours, except scarlet and crimson; or wear any upper velvet cap, or any scarf, or wings on their gownes, white jerkyns, buskins or velvet shoes, double cuffs on their shirts, feathers or ribbens on their caps! That no attorney should be admitted into either of the houses, and that, in all admissions from thenceforth, it should be an implied condition, that if the party admitted “should practyse any attorneyship,” he was ipso facto dismissed.*
In 1 Jac. I., it was ordered, in obedience to the commands of the king, that no one should be admitted a member of either society who was not a gentleman by descent—that none of the gentlemen should come into the hall “in cloaks, boots, spurs, swords, or daggers;” and it was publicly declared that their “yellow bands, and ear toyes, and short cloaks, and weapons,” were “much disliked and forbidden.”
* MS. in Bib. In. Temp., No. 19, fol.
† In. Temp. Ad. Parliament, ibm. XV. die Novembris Anno Philippi et Mariæ tertio et quarto, coram Johe Baker Milite, Nicho Hare Mlite, Thoma Whyte Milite, et al. MS. Bib. In. Tern. Div. p, shelf 5, vol. xvii. Fol. 393.
In A.D. 1623, King James recommended the ancient way of wearing caps to be carefully observed; and the king was pleased to take notice of the good order of the house of the Inner Temple in that particular. His majesty was further pleased to recommend that boots should be laid aside as ill befitting gownsmen; “for boots and spurs,” says his majesty, “are the badges rather of roarers than of civil men, who should use them only when they ride. Therefore we have made example in our own court, that no boots shall come into our presence.”
The modern Templars for a long period fully maintained the ancient character and reputation of the Temple for sumptuous and magnificent hospitality, although the venison from the royal forests, and the wine from the king’s cellars,† no longer made its periodical appearance within the walls of the old convent. Sir John Fortescue alludes to the revels and pastimes of the Temple in the reign of Henry VI., and several ancient writers speak of the grand Christmasses, the readers’ feasts, the masques, and the sumptuous entertainments afforded to foreign ambassadors, and even to royalty itself. Various dramatic shows were got up upon these occasions, and the leading characters who figured at them were the “Marshall of the Knights Templars!” the constable marshall, the master of the games, the lieutenant of the Tower, the ranger of the forest, the lord of misrule, the king of Cockneys, and Jack Straw!
The Constable Marshall came into the hall on banqueting days “fairly mounted on his mule,” clothed in complete armour, with a nest of feathers of all colours upon his helm, and a gilt poleaxe in his hand. He was attended by halberdiers, and preceded by drums and fifes, and by sixteen trumpeters, and devised some sport “for passing away the afternoon.”
The Master of the Game, and the Ranger of the Forest, were apparelled in green velvet and green satin, and had hunting horns about their necks, with which they marched round about the fire, “blowing three blasts of venery.”
The most remarkable of all the entertainments was the hunt in the hall, when the huntsman came in with his winding horn, dragging in with him a cat, a fox, a purse-net, and nine or ten couple of hounds! The cat and the fox were both tied to the end of a staff, and were turned loose into the hall; they were hunted with the dogs amid the blowing of hunting horns, and were killed under the grate!!
* Ex registr. In. Temp., f. 112, 119, b. Med. Temp., f. 24, a.Dugd.,Orig. Jurid., p. 310, 311.
† Ante, p. 180.
The quantity of venison consumed on these festive occasions particularly at the readers’ feasts, was enormous. In the reign of Queen Mary, it was ordered by the benchers of the Middle Temple, that no reader should spend less than fifteen bucks in the hall, and this number was generally greatly exceeded: “there be few summer readers,” we are informed in an old MS. account of the readers’ feasts, “who, in half the time that heretofore a reading was wont to continue, spent so little as threescore bucks, besides red deer; some have spent fourscore, some a hundred …”* The lawyers in that golden age breakfasted on “brawn and malmsey,” and supped on “venison pasties and roasted hens!” Among the viands at dinner were “faire and large bores’ heads served upon silver platters, with minstralsye, roasted swans, bustards, herns, bitterns, turkey chicks, curlews, godwits, &c. &c.”
The following observations concerning the Temple, and a grand entertainment there, in the reign of Queen Mary, will be read with interest. “Arriuing in the faire river of Thames, I landed within halfe a leage from the city of London, which was, as I coniecture in December last. And drawing neere the citie, sodenly hard the shot of double cannons, in so great a number, and so terrible, that it darkened the whole aire, wherewith, although I was in my native countrie, yet stoode I amazed, not knowing what it ment. Thus, as I abode in despaire either to returne or to continue my former purpose, I chaunced to see comming towardes me an honest citizen, clothed in long garment, keping the highway, seming to walke for his recreation, which prognosticated rather peace than perill Of whom I demaunded the cause of this great shot, who frendly answered,’ It is the warning shot to th’ officers of the Constable Marshall of the Inner Temple to prepare to dinner! Why, said I, is he of that estate, that seeketh not other meanes to warn his officers, then with such terrible shot in so peaceable a countrey? Marry, saith he, he vttereth himselfe the better to be that officer whose name he beareth. I then demanded what prouince did he gouerne that needeth such an officer. Hee answered me, the prouince was not great in quantitie, but ancient in true nobilitie; a place, said he, priuileged by the most excellent princess, the high gouernour of the whole land, wherein are store of gentilmen of the whole realme, that repaire thither to learne to rule, and obey by laws, to yeelde their fleece to their prince and common weale, as also to vse all other exercises of bodie and minde whereunto nature most aptly serueth to adorne by speaking, countenance, gesture, and vse of apparel, the person of a gentleman; whereby amitie is obtained and continued, that gentilmen of al countries in theire young yeares, norished together in one place, with such comely order and daily conference, are knit by continual acquaintance in such vnitie of mindes and manners, as lightly neuer after is seuered, then which is nothing more profitable to the commonweale.
* Dugd. Orig. Jurid. p. 316. Herbert Antiq., p. 223 to 272.
“And after he had told me thus much of honor of the place, I commended in mine own conceit the pollicie of the gouernour, which seemed to vtter in itselfe the foundation of a good commonweale. For that the best of their people from tender yeares trayned vp in precepts of justice, it could not chose but yeelde forth a profitable people to a wise commonweale. Wherefore I determined with myselfe to make proofe of that I heard by reporte.
“The next day I thought for my pastime to walke to this Temple, and entering in at the gates, I found the building nothing costly; but many comly gentlemen of face aud person, and thereto very courteous, saw I passe too and fro. Passing forward, I entered into a church of auncient building, wherein were many monumentes of noble personnages armed in knighteley habite, with their cotes depainted in auncient shieldes, whereat I took pleasure to behold . … .
“Anon we heard the noise of drum and fyfe. What meaneth this drumme? said I. Quod he, this is to warn gentlemen of the household to repaire to the dresser; wherefore come on with me, and yee shall stand where ye may best see the hall serued; and so from thence brought me into a long gallerie that stretcheth itselfe alongest the hall, neere the prince’s table, where I saw the prince set, a man of tall personage, of mannelye countenance, somewhat browne of visage, strongelie featured, and thereto comelie proportioned. At the neather end of the same table were placed the ambassadors of diuers princes. Before him stood the caruer, seruer, and cup-bearer, with great number of gentlemen wayters attending his person. The lordes steward, treasorer, with diuers honorable personages, were placed at aside-table neere adjoyning the prince on the right hand, and at another table on the left side were placed the treasorer of the household, secretarie, the prince’s serjeant of law, the four masters of the reaulles, the king of armes, the deane of the chapell, and diuers gentlemen pentioners to furnish the same. At another table, on the other side, were set the maister of the game, and his chiefe ranger, maisters of household, clerkes of the greene cloth and checke, with diuers other strangers to furnish the same. On the other side, againste them, began the table of the lieutenant of the Tower, accompanied with diuers captaines of footbandes and shot. At the neather ende of the hall, began the table of the high butler and panter, clerkes of the kitchen, maister cooke of the priue kitchen, furnished throughout with the souldiours and guard of the prince …
“The prince was serued with tender meates, sweet fruites, and daintie delicates, confectioned with curious cookerie, as it seemed woonder a word to serue the prouision. And at euerie course, the trompettes blew the courageous blaste of deadlye warre, with noise of drum and fyfe, with the sweet harmony of viollens, shakbuts, recorders, and cornettes, with other instruments of musicke, as it seemed Apolloe’s harpe had tewned their stroke.”
After dinner, prizes were prepared for “tilt and turney, and such knighteley pastime, and for their solace they masked with bewtie’s dames with such heauenly armonie as if Apollo and Orpheus had shewed their cunning.”*
Masques, revels, plays, and eating and drinking, seem to have been as much attended to in the Temple in those days as the grave study of the law. Sir Christopher Hatton, a member of the Inner Temple, gained the favour of Queen Elizabeth, for his grace and activity in a masque which was acted before her majesty. He was made vice-chamberlain, and afterwards lord chancellor!† In A.D. 1568, the tragedy of Tancred and Gismund, the joint production of five students of the Inner Temple, was acted at the Temple before Queen Elizabeth and her court.‡ On the marriage of the Lady Elizabeth, daughter of King James I., to Prince Frederick, the elector palatine, (Feb. 14th, A.D. 1613), a masque was performed at court by the gentlemen of the Temple, and shortly after, twenty Templars were appointed barristers there in honour of Prince Charles, who had lately become prince of Wales, “the chardges thereof being defrayed by a contribution of xxxs. from each bencher, xvs. from euery barister of seauen years’ standing, and xs. a peice from all other gentlemen in commons.”§
Of all the pageants prepared for the entertainment of the sovereigns of England, the most famous one was that splendid masque, which cost upwards of £20,000, presented by the Templars, in conjunction with the members of Lincoln’s Inn and Gray’s Inn, to King Charles I., and his young queen, Henrietta of France. Whitelock, in his Memorials, gives a minute and most animated account of this masque, which will be read with interest, as affording a characteristic and admirable exhibition of the manners of the age.
The procession from the Temple to the palace of Whitehall was the most magnificent that had ever been seen in London. “One hundred gentlemen in very rich clothes, with scarce anything to be seen on them but gold and silver lace, were mounted on the best horses and the best furniture that the king’s stable and the stables of all the noblemen in town could afford.” Each gentleman had a page and two lacqueys in livery waiting by his horse’s side. The lacqueys carried torches, and the page his master’s cloak. “The richness of their apparel and furniture glittering by the light of innumerable torches, the motion and stirring of their mettled horses, and the many and gay liveries of their servants, but especially the personal beauty and gallantry of the handsome young gentlemen, made the most glorious and splendid show that ever was beheld in England.”
* Leigh’s Armorie, fol. 119. ed. 1576.
† Naunton’s Fragmenta Regalia, p. 248.
‡ Chalmer’s Diet. Biograph., vol. xvii. p. 227.
§ Dugd. Orig. Jurid., p. 150. Ex registro Hosp. In. Temp. f. 123.
These gallant Templars were accompanied by the finest band of picked musicians that London could afford, and were followed by the antimasque of beggars and cripples, who were mounted on “the poorest, leanest jades that could be gotten out of the dirtcarts.” The habits and dresses of these cripples were most ingeniously arranged, and as the “gallant Inns of Court men” had their music, so also had the beggars and cripples. It consisted of keys, tongs, and gridirons, “snapping and yet playing in concert before them.” After the beggars’ antimasque came a band of pipes, whistles, and instruments, sounding notes like those of birds, of all sorts, in excellent harmony; and these ushered in “the antimasque of birds,” which consisted of an owl in an ivy bush, with innumerable other birds in a cluster about the owl, gazing upon her. “These were little boys put into covers of the shape of those birds, rarely fitted, and sitting on small horses with footmen going by them with torches in their hands, and there were some besides to look unto the children, and these were very pleasant to the beholders.” Then came a wild, harsh band of northern music, bagpipes, horns, &c., followed by the “antimasque of projectors” who were in turn succeeded by a string of chariots drawn by four horses a breast, filled with “gods and goddesses,” and preceded by heathen priests. Then followed the chariots of the grand masquers drawn by four horses abreast.
The chariots of the Inner and Middle Temple were silver and blue. The horses were covered to their heels with cloth of tissue, and their heads were adorned with huge plumes of blue and white feathers. “The torches and flaming flamboys borne by the side of each chariot made it seem lightsom as at noonday … It was, indeed, a glorious spectacle.”
Whitelock gives a most animated description of the scene in the banqueting-room. “It was so crowded,” says he, “with fair ladies glittering with their rich cloaths and richer jewels, and with lords and gentlemen of great quality, that there was scarce room for the king and queen to enter in.” The young queen danced with the masquers herself, and judged them “as good dancers as ever she saw!” The great ladies of the court, too, were “very free and easy and civil in dancing with all the masquers as they were taken out by them.”
Queen Henrietta was so delighted with the masque, “the dances, speeches, musick, and singing,” that she desired to see the whole thing acted over again! whereupon the lord mayor invited their majesties and all the Inns of Court men into the city, and entertained them with great state and magnificence at Merchant Taylor’s Hall.*
Many of the Templars who were the foremost in these festive scenes afterwards took up arms against their sovereign. Whitelock himself commanded a body of horse, and fought several sanguinary engagements with the royalist forces.
The year after the restoration, Sir Heneage Finch, afterwards earl of Nottingham, kept his readers’ feast in the great hall of the Inner Temple with extraordinary splendour. The entertainments lasted from the 4th to the 17th of August.
At the first day’s dinner were several of the nobility of the kingdom and privy councillors, with divers others of his friends; at the second were the lord mayor, aldermen, and principal citizens of London; to the third, which was two days after the former, came the whole college of physicians, who all appeared in their caps and gowns; at the fourth were all the judges, advocates, and doctors of the civil law, and all the society of Doctors’ Commons; at the fifth were entertained the archbishops, bishops, and chief of the clergy; and on the 15th of August his majesty King Charles the Second came from Whitehall in his state barge, and dined with the reader and the whole society in the hall. His majesty was accompanied by the duke of York, and attended by the lord chancellor, lord treasurer, lord privy seal, the dukes of Buckingham, Richmond, and Ormond; the lord chamberlain, the earls of Ossory, Bristol, Berks, Portland, Strafford, Anglesy, Essex, Bath, and Carlisle; the lords Wen-tworth, Cornbury, De la Warre, Gerard of Brandon, Berkley of Stratton and Cornwallis, the comptroller and vice-chamberlain of his majesties’s household; Sir William Morice, one of his principal secretaries of state; the earl of Middleton, lord commissioner of Scotland, the earl of Glen-cairne, lord chancellor of Scotland, the earls of Lauderdale and New-burgh, and others the commissioners of that kingdom, and the earl of Kildare and others, commissioners of Ireland.
An entrance was made from the river through the wall into the Temple Garden, and his majesty was received on his landing from the barge by the reader and the lord chief justice of the Common Pleas, whilst the path from the garden to the hall was lined with the readers’ servants in scarlet cloaks and white tabba doublets, and above them were ranged the benchers, barristers, and students of the society, “the loud musick playing from the time that his majesty landed till he entered the hall, where he was received with xx. violins.” Dinner was brought up by fifty of the young gentlemen of the society in their gowns, “who gave their attendance all dinner-while, none other appearing in the hall but themselves.”
On the 3rd of November following, his royal highness the duke of York, the duke of Buckingham, the earl of Dorset, and Sir William Mor-rice, secretary of state, were admitted members of the society of the Inner Temple, the duke of York being called to the bar and bench.*
* Whitelock’s Memorials, p. 18—22. Ed. 1732.
In 8 Car. II., A.D. 1668, Sir William Turner, lord mayor of London, came to the readers’ feast in the Inner Temple with his sword and mace and external emblems of civic authority, which was considered to be an affront to the society, and the lord mayor was consequently very roughly handled by some of the junior members of the Temple. His worship complained to the king, and the matter was inquired into by the council, as appears from the following proceedings:
“At the Courte att Whitehall, the 7th April, 1669,
“Present the king’s most excellent majestie.”
H. R. H. the duke of York. Lord bishop of London.
Lord Keeper. Lord Arlington.
Duke of Ormonde. Lord Newport.
Lord Chamberlaine. Mr. Treasurer.
Earle of Bridgewater. Mr. Vice-chamberlaine.
Earle of Bath. Mr. Secretary Trevor.
Earle of Craven. Mr. Chancellor of the Dutchy.
Earle of Middleton. Mr. John Duncombe.
“Whereas, it was ordered the 31st of March last, that the complaints of the lord maior of the city of London concerneing personall indignities offered to his lordshippe and his officers when he was lately invited to dine with the reader of the Inner Temple, should this day have a further hearing, and that Mr. Hodges, Mr. Wyn, and Mr. Mundy, gentlemen of the Inner Temple, against whome particular complaint was made, sshould appeare att the board, when accordingly, they attendinge, and both parties being called in and heard by their counsell learned, and affidavits haveing been read against the said three persons, accuseing them to have beene the principall actors in that disorder, to which they haveing made their defence, and haveing presented severall affidavits to justifie their carriage that day, though they could not extenuate the faults of others who in the tumult affronted the lord maior and his officers; and the officers of the lord maior, who was alleaged to have beene abused in the tumult, did not charge it upon anie of their particular persons; upon consideration whereof it appeareing to his majestie that the matter dependinge very much upon the right and priviledge of beareing up the lord maior’s sword within the Temple, which by order of this board of the 24th of March last is left to be decided by due proceedings of lawe in the courts of Westminster Hall; his majestie therefore thought fitt to suspend the declaration of his pleasure thereupon until the said right and priviledge shall accordinglie be determined att lawe.”
On the 4th of November, 14 Car. II., his highness Rupert prince palatine, Thomas earl of Cleveland, Jocelyn lord Percy, John lord Berkeley of Stratton, with Henry and Bernard Howard of Norfolk, were admitted members of the fellowship of the Inner Temple.*
* Dugd. Orig. p. 157. Biog. Brit. vol. xiv. p. 305.
We must now close our remarks on the Temple, with a short account of the quarrel with Dr. Micklethwaite, the custos or guardian of the Temple Church.
After the Hospitallers had been put into possession of the Temple by King Edward the Third, the prior and chapter of that order, appointed to the ancient and honourable post of custos, and the priest who occupied that office, had his diet in one or other of the halls of the two law societies, in the same way as the guardian priest of the Order of the Temple formerly had his diet in the hall of the ancient Knights Templars. He took his place, as did also the chaplains, by virtue of the appointment of the prior and chapter of the Hospital, without admission, institution or induction, for the Hospitallers were clothed with the privileges, as well as with the property, of the Knights Templars, and were exempt from episcopal jurisdiction. The custos had, as before mentioned, by grant from the prior and chapter of the Order of St. John, one thousand faggots a year to keep up the fire in the church, and the rents of Ficketzfeld and Cotterell Garden to be employed in improving the lights and providing for the due celebration of divine service. From two to three chaplains were also provided by the Hospitallers, and nearly the same ecclesiastical establishment appears to have been maintained by them, as was formerly kept up in the Temple by the Knights Templars. In 21 Hen. VII. these priests had divers lodgings in the Temple, on the east side of the churchyard, part of which were let out to the students of the two societies.
By sections 9 and 10 of the act 32 Hen. VIII., dissolving the Order of the Hospital of St. John, it is provided that William Ermsted, clerk, the custos or guardian of the Temple Church, who is there styled “Master of the Temple,” and Walter Limseie and John Winter, chaplains, should receive and enjoy, during their lives, all such mansion-houses, stipends, and wages, and all other profits of money, in as large or ample a manner as they then lawfully had the same, the said Master and chaplains of the Temple doing their duties and services there, as they had previously been accustomed to do, and letters patent confirming them in their offices and pensions were to be made out and passed under the great seal. This appellation of “Master of the Temple,” which anciently denoted the superior of the proud and powerful order of Knights Templars in England, the counsellor of kings and princes, and the leader of armies, was incorrectly applied to the mere custos or guardianof the Temple Church. The act makes no provision for the successors of the custos and chaplains, and Edward the Sixth consequently, after the decease of William Ermsted, conveyed the lodgings, previously appropriated to the officiating ministers, to a Mr. Keilway and his heirs, after which the custos and clergymen had no longer of right any lodgings at all in the Temple.*
* Dugd. Orig. p. 158.
From the period of the dissolution of the Order of Saint John, down to the present time, the custos, or, as he is now incorrectly styled, “the Master of the Temple,” has been appointed by letters patent from the crown, and takes his place as in the olden time, without the ceremony of admission, institution, or induction. These letters patent are couched in very general and extensive terms, and give the custos or Master many things to which he is justly entitled, as against the crown, but no longer obtains, and profess to give him many other things which the crown had no power whatever to grant. He is appointed, for instance, “to rule, govern, and superintend the house of the New Temple;” but the crown had no power whatever to make him governor thereof, the government having always been in the hands of the Masters of the bench of the two societies, who succeeded to the authority of the Master and chapter of the Knights Templars. In these letters patent the Temple is described as a rectory, which it never had been, nor anything like it. They profess to give to the custos “all and all manner of tythes,” but there were no tythes to give, the Temple having been specially exempted from tythe as a religious house by numerous papal bulls. The letters patent give the custos all the revenues and profits of money which the custodes had at any time previously enjoyed by virtue of their office, but these revenues were dissipated by the crown, and the property formerly granted by the prior and chapter of Saint John, and by pious persons in the time of the Templars, for the maintenance of the priests and the celebration of divine service in the Temple Church was handed over to strangers, and the custos was thrown by the crown for support upon the voluntary contributions of the two societies. He received, indeed, a miserable pittance of 37l 6s. 8d. per annum from the exchequer, but for this he was to find at his own expense a minister to serve the church, and also a clerk or sexton !
As the crown retained in its own hands the appointment of the custos and all the ancient revenues of the Temple Church, it ought to have provided for the support of the officiating ministers, as did the Hospitallers of Saint John.
“The chardges of the fellowshyppe,” says the MS. account of the Temple written in the reign of Hen. VIII., “towards the salary or mete and drink of the priests, is none; for they are found by my lord of Saint John’s, and they that are of the fellowshyppe of the house are chardged with nothing to the priests, saving that they have eighteen offring days in the yeare, so that the chardge of each of them is xviiid.”*
In the reign of Jamcs the First, the custos, Dr. Micklethwaite’s, put forward certain unheard-of claims and pretensions, which led to a rupture between him and the two societies. The Masters of the bench of the society of the Inner Temple, taking umbrage at his proceedings, deprived the doctor of his place at the dinnertableland “willed him to forbear the hall till he was sent for.” In 8 Car. I., A. D. 1633, the doctor presented a petition to the king, in which he claims precedence within the Temple “according to auncient custome, he being master of the house,” and complains that “his place in the hall is denyed him and his dyett, which place the Master of the Temple hath ever had both before the profession of the lawe kept in the Temple and ever since, whensoever he came into the hall. That tythes are not payde him, whereas by pattent he is to have omnes et omnimodas decimas. … That they denye all ecclesiastical jurisdiction to the Master of the Temple, who is appointedby the king’s majesty master and warden of the house ad reyendum, gubernandum, et officiendum dornum et ecclesiam,” &c. The doctor goes into a long list of grievances showing the little authority that he possessed in the Temple, that he was not summoned to the deliberations of the houses, and he complains that “they will give him no consideración in the Inner House for his supernumerarie sermons in the forenoon, nor for his sermons in the afternoon,” and that the officers of the Inner Temple are commanded to disrespect the Master of the Temple when he comes to the hall.”
* Harleian MS., No. 830
The short answer to the doctor’s complaint is, that the custos of the church never had any of the things which the doctor claimed to be entitled to, and it was not in the power of the crown to give them to him.
The ancient custos being, as before mentioned, a priest of the Order of the Temple, and afterwards of the Order of the Hospital, was a perfect slave to his temporal superiors, and could be deprived of his post, be condemned to a diet of bread and water, and be perpetually imprisoned, without appeal to any power, civil or ecclesiastical, unless he could cause his complaints to be brought to the ear of the pope. Dr. Micklethwaite quite misunderstood his position in the Temple, and it was well for him that the masters of the benches no longer exercised the despotic power of the ancient master and chapter, or he would certainly have been condemned to the penitential cell in the church, and would not have been the first custos placed in that unenviable retreat.*
The petition was referred to the lords of the council, and afterwards to Noy, the attorney-general, and in the mean time the doctor locked up the church and took away the keys. The societies ordered fresh keys to be made, and the church to be set open. Noy, to settle all differences, appointed to meet the contending parties in the church, and then alluding to the pretensions of the doctor, he declared that if he were visitor he would proceed against him tanquam elatus et superbus.
In the end the doctor got nothing by his petition.
In the time of the Commonwealth, after Dr. Micklethwaite’s death, Oliver Cromwell sent to inquire into the duties and emoluments of the post of “Master of the Temple,” as appears from the following letter:
* MS. Bib. Cotton. Vitellius, c. 9. fol. 320 a.
“From his highness I was commanded to speake with you for resolution and satisfaction in theise following particulers—
“1. Whether the Master of the Temple be to be putt in him by way of presentation, or how?
“2. Whether he be bound to attend and preach among them in terme times and out of terme?
“3. Or if out of terme an assistant must be provided? then, whether at the charge of the Master, or how otherwise?
“4. Whether publique prayer in the chapell be allwayes performable by the Master himselfe in terme times? And whether in time of vacation it be constantly expected from himselfe or his assistant.
“5. What the certain revenue of the Master is, and how it arises?
“6. Sir, the gentleman his highness intends to make Master is. Mr. Resburne of Oundle, a most worthy and learned man, pastor of the church there, whereof I myselfe am an unworthy member.
“7. The church would be willing (for publique good) to spare him in terme times, but will not part with him altogether. And in some of the particulers aforementioned Mr. R. is very desirous to be satisfyd; his highness chiefly in the first.
“8. I begg of you to leave a briefe answer to the said partienlars, and I shall call on your servant for it.
“For the honourable Henry Scobell, esq., theise.”†
During the late repair of the Temple Church, A.D. 1830, the workmen discovered an ancient seal of the Order of the Hospital, which was carried away, and appears to have got into the hands of strangers. On one side of it is represented the holy sepulchre of Jerusalem, with the Saviour in his tomb. At his head is an elevated cross, and above is a tabernacle or chapel, from the roof of which depend two incense pots. Around the seal is the inscription, “Fr––––Berengarii Custos Pauperum Hospitalis Jherusalem.” On the reverse a holy man is represented on his knees in the attitude of prayer before a patriarchal cross, on either side of which are the letters Alpha and Omega. Under the first letter is a star.
These particulars have been furnished me by Mr. Savage, the architect.
* See the examination of Brother Radulph de Barton, priest of the Order of the Temple, and custos of the Temple Church, before the papal inquisitors at London.––Concil Mag. Brit., tom. ii. p. 335, 338, ante, p. 221, 222.
† Peck, Desiderata Curiosa, lib. xiii. p. 504, 505. Ed. 1779.