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Collections

The Library holds about 150,000 volumes, the core of which is a comprehensive range of English legal materials for the practitioner and Bar student. Although all topics are covered, Chancery practice is particularly catered for in the acquisition of English materials.

Core collection

Our core collection of UK law is comprised of textbooks (including old editions), law reports, legal journals, primary, secondary and local legislation, encyclopaedias, government publications and legal databases. We also have primary legal sources and commentary covering the other UK jurisdictions of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and material relating to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

The following lists can be downloaded from this page:

  • Our current textbooks by subject
  • Our law reports and serials
  • A list of the subject specialisations of each Inn library (Subject specialisation list)

Commonwealth materials

The Library holds extensive collections of Commonwealth legislation and law reports. The current acquisitions policy is to concentrate mainly on Australia and New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore and the Pacific, and Africa, with Inner Temple Library having primary responsibility for Canada, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan and the Caribbean, though the Library does hold some materials from those jurisdictions. A list of Commonwealth jurisdictions held by Lincoln’s Inn and Inner Temple, and a list of each Inn libraries’ subject specialisations, are available to download from this page.

Parliamentary materials

The Library holds a virtually complete set of all Parliamentary papers and debates from 1801. The main exception is House of Commons Standing Committee debates (published separately from the main Hansard) which, other than for a small selection for sessions 1954/55 to 1971/72, are held only from 1983/84.

The staff are always willing to give assistance in using Parliamentary materials, and are experienced in helping with “Pepper v Hart” research in particular. An introduction to Pepper v Hart research can be viewed and downloaded from this page.

Rare books and manuscripts

The Library is an ancient foundation – it is first mentioned in the Inn’s records in 1471 – and has important collections of rare books and manuscripts, by no means all connected with the law.

The most important are the Hale Manuscripts. They take their name from Sir Matthew Hale, Chief Justice of the King’s Bench and a great antiquary, who bequeathed his large personal collection on his death in 1676. The collection includes most of the Library’s 63 medieval manuscripts.

The Inn also possesses an important collection of the paper books of four common law judges, covering the period 1771 to 1816. The collection contains almost 100 bundles of paper books that were the personal copies delivered individually to four common law judges – William Ashhurst, Francis Buller, Soulden Lawrence, and Henry Dampier. A case name index has been prepared by Dr Andrew Lyall and can be viewed and downloaded from this page.

There are also subject indexes to the majority of this collection, prepared by James Oldham, St. Thomas More Professor of Law and Legal History at the Georgetown University Law Center. Professor Oldham’s project came to end before the completion of the Buller paper books and covers Buller MSS 510-842. Dr Andrew Lyall is in the process of completing the Buller subject index from MS 509 back to 1, i.e. in reverse order. It is work in progress but the present version of his indexes is accessible below.

You can view and download the index for the different classes of document from this page.

  • Introduction
  • Buller paper books MSS 510-842 (Prof. Oldham)
  • Buller paper books MSS 1-509 (work in progress, Dr Lyall)
  • Lawrence paper books
  • Grose-Dampier paper books
  • Dampier House of Lords papers
  • Dampier briefs

There are well over 1,000 volumes of other manuscripts. The printed catalogue by Joseph Hunter published in 1838 remains the main guide. A copy of the later typescript addenda is deposited with the National Register of Archives. Further useful information on the manuscripts may be found in J.H. Baker’s catalogue of the Library’s holdings of Year Books, Law Reports and Readings: English Legal Manuscripts, vol. 2 (Zug: Inter-Documentation, 1978), and in N.R. Ker Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries. Vol. 1: London (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969).

Apart from an outstanding collection of English legal treatises and extensive collections of early civil and continental law, the Library has a large collection of pamphlets and tracts, over 2000 of which date from before 1700, and which contain important material of interest not only to the legal historian.

Note that the computer catalogue currently excludes much of the civil law and pamphlet collections, but is otherwise comprehensive. The Library’s holdings are covered by Wing and STC (but not the English Short Title Catalogue), and the small number of the Library’s incunabula are included in the on-line ISTC.