Overview The Archives of Lincoln's Inn include the longest-running record series of any of the four Inns of Court: the Black Books commencing in 1422. Originally, the Black Books of Lincoln's Inn were memoranda books of the Inn's business in which everything deemed worthy of preservation was written. Until 1641 they contain more or less full transcripts of annual accounts rendered by Treasurer, Pensioner and Steward. No separate record of admissions to the Society was kept until 1573, of admissions to chambers until 1614, and calls to the bar were entered only in the Black Books until as late as 1767. The Black Books are now the major minute series of the governing Council of benchers.Other Archive classes survive from as early as the sixteenth century. Indexes to individual members - their admissions, occupation of chambers, calls to the bar and to the bench - will be found in many of the primary sources in addition to those in the printed versions.
The Black Books are available in print in six volumes covering the period 1422 to 1965. Admissions covering 1420 to 1893 and Chapel Registers covering 1695 to 1852 are published together in two volumes. See < Information on Past Members >
It should be noted that while the Library's collection of manuscripts has more material emanating from past members there is little by way of personal papers as such.
Research and Access
The Archives staff welcome enquiries from both members and non-members. Personal visits in connection with such enquiries are not generally necessary and then should only be made by prior arrangement. Academic researchers are welcome to use the Inn's Archives by appointment and application should be made in writing enclosing a letter of introduction from a university or appropriate institution.
We are preparing some information sheets on some of our most famous members. Please click on the links for those currently available: