Early Modern Bankruptcy (and other) Readings in the Inns of Court - The Barkesdale Manuscript

01 MAR 2009

The volume of primary source material touching early modern insolvency law and practice and adjunct commercial areas is not insubstantial. The material also includes bankruptcy documents. There are also documents extant on the education of practitioners in relation to the law of bankruptcy in the Inns of Court. As the practice of insolvency law is incontrovertibly linked to the attendant areas of trade, credit, and debt it is interesting to mull on the preparation that intending practitioners went through before practice and whilst in practice. In this regard we may consider the training of sergeants, barristers, attorneys, solicitors and so forth.

It is also interesting to mull on the further educational value of the insolvency and related subject Readings in the context of wider commercial education during the period under consideration.  Whether or not there were early modern equivalents of post- Cork insolvency practitioners, perhaps forerunners of the Official Receiver and so forth remains to be investigated.  That is to say individuals who worked on insolvent estate management exclusively. However, as Baker has opined, “Accountancy may require some legal training, but it is not a legal exercise as such.” With this in mind we might not find evidence of the insolvency education of such a professionals in the legal archives.

The seventeenth century saw a particular burst of activity in this legal educational discourse. Handwritten, generally by students, the Readings provide an intriguing insight into the practical application of seventeenth century insolvency laws and allow a glimpse into the education of seventeenth century practitioners and their professional development in the field of insolvency law. There were nineteen insolvency, bankruptcy, usury and other relevant subject readings delivered in Gray’s Inn, Inner Temple, Lincoln’s Inn and Middle Temple between 1601 and 1695.

Perhaps the most important reading was that delivered by John Barkesdale in 1628 (Lincoln’s Inn Library - Manuscript - John Barkesdale. Reading at Lincoln’s Inn on bankruptcy, 21 Jac I, c.19, bankruptcy. 1628. (H-1788)). For a discussion of the transcription, translation and importance of this reading see here. The picture in this posting is a page from Maynard 57, the Barkesdale manuscript. Here are the details of the other readings and their locations:

1520 – George Treherne. Reading on 11. Hen V.II, c.8, usury at Lincoln’s Inn.

1576 – George Watt. Reading  on 37. Hen V.III, c.9, usury at Lincoln’s Inn.

1585 – John Tindal. Reading at Lincoln’s Inn on fraudulent conveyances, 27 Eliz I, c.4 fraudulent conveyances. 1585.

1588 – Thomas Harris. Reading at Middle Temple on fraudulent conveyances, 27 Eliz I, c.4 fraudulent conveyances. 1588.

1587 – Nicholas Fuller. Reading at Gray’s Inn on bankruptcy, Eliz I, c.7. , 1587.

1587 – Nicholas Fuller. Reading at Gray’s Inn on usury, 13 Eliz I, c.8. 1587.

1590 – George Snigge. Reading at Middle Temple on usury, 13 Eliz I, c.8. 1590.

1590 – Thomas Wade. Reading at Gray’s Inn on fraudulent conveyances, 27 Eliz I, c.4 fraudulent conveyances. 1590.

1598 – Roger Wilbraham. Reading at Gray’s Inn on fraudulent conveyances, 27 Eliz I, c.4 fraudulent conveyances. 1598.

1601 – George Chawworth. Reading on usury at Gray’s Inn, 13 Eliz I, c.8, usury. 1601.

1602 – Anthony Dyott. Reading at Inner Temple on fraudulent conveyances, 27 Eliz I, c.4 fraudulent conveyances. 1602.

1603 – Henry Hobart. Reading at Lincoln’s Inn on fraudulent conveyances, 27 Eliz I, c.4 fraudulent conveyances. 1603.

1608 – William Brock. Reading at Inner Temple on fraudulent conveyances, 27 Eliz I, c.4 fraudulent conveyances. 1608.

1608 – John More. Reading at Lincoln’s Inn on fraudulent conveyances, 27 Eliz I, c.4 fraudulent conveyances. 1608.

1608 – Lawrence Hyde. Reading at Middle Temple on fraudulent conveyances, 27 Eliz I, c.4 fraudulent conveyances. 1608.

1616 – George Shurley. Reading at Middle Temple on fraudulent conveyances, 27 Eliz I, c.4 fraudulent conveyances. 1616.

1622 – Egremond Thynne. Reading on usury at Middle Temple. 13 Eliz I, c.8, usury. 1622.

1623 – John Bramston. Reading at Middle Temple on fraudulent conveyances, 27 Eliz I, c.4 fraudulent conveyances. 1623.

1627 – William Whitaker. Reading at Middle Temple on fraudulent conveyances, 13 Eliz. I, c.5. 1627.

1628 - John Barkesdale. Reading at Lincoln’s Inn on bankruptcy, 21 Jac I, c.19, bankruptcy. 1628.

1629 – Philip Jermyn. Reading at Middle Temple on bankruptcy, 21 Jac I, c.19, bankruptcy. 1629.

1634 – Francis Bacon. Reading at Gray’s Inn on fraudulent conveyances, 27 Eliz I, c.4 fraudulent conveyances. 1634.

1634 – William Farrer. Reading at Inner Temple on usury, 21 Jac. I, c.17, usury. 1643.

1634 – Godfrey Copley. Reading at Lincoln’s Inn on usury, 21 Jac. I, c.17, usury. 1634.

1639. Edward Johnson. Reading at Inner Temple on usury, 21 Jac. I, c.17, usury. 1639.

1642 – William Hussey. Reading at Middle Temple on usury, 21 Jac. I, c.17, usury. 1642.

1656 – Stone, J. Reading upon the Statute of the thirteenth of Elizabeth, chapter 7, touching bankrupts. 1656. (Dulwich) (Bodley). See Below on this practitioners' text.

1661 – Eure Armine. Reading at Gray’s Inn on usury, 12 Car II, c.13, usury. 1661.

1670 – John Amherst. Reading at Gray’s Inn on fraudulent conveyances, 27 Eliz I, c.4 fraudulent conveyances. 1670.

1695 - Stone, J. The reading upon the statute of the thirteenth of Elizabeth, chapter 7, touching bankrupts. London, 2nd Edition. 1695. (Dulwich) (Bodley). This is not a reading but a text book or more accurately a practitioners' text. To celebrate the forthcoming release of both Professor Ian F. Fletcher's 4th edition of his Law of Insolvency, and Professor Vanessa Finch's 2nd edition of her Corporate Insolvency: Perspectives and Principles, I will be doing a future blog entry on Insolvency Texts through the Ages. I will start with Stone and other early works.

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