‘Between the University and the Temple’ (1744–53)

Wilfrid Prest

in William Blackstone

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199550296
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720925 | DOI:
 ‘Between the University and the Temple’ (1744–53)

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This chapter begins with an account of All Souls College, where Blackstone was elected to a fellowship in 1743. It discusses his two earliest surviving letters, both written from All Souls, which illuminate his maturing attitudes and values, as does the remarkable poem ‘A Lawyer's Farewell to his Muse’, which sets out an ambitious agenda of legal reform and renovation. After glancing at the nature of the civil law studies which led to his graduation with a BCL degree in mid-1745, we move on to consider his study of the common law at London's Middle Temple, and subsequent ill-starred attempt to establish a practice as a barrister in the central courts of Westminster Hall, while remaining heavily involved in Oxford commitments. The chapter concludes by examining the implications of his accepting a provincial legal post, as recorder of the Berkshire borough of Wallingford.

Keywords: All Souls College; poetry; law reform; civil law; common law; Middle Temple; Westminster Hall; London; Wallingford; Berkshire

Chapter.  10603 words. 

Subjects: History of Law

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