Dublin Inns of Court

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

INNS OF COURT.

The King's Inns are situated on a piece of elevated ground of about three acres, formerly called the Primate's Garden, at the northern end of Henrietta-street, the tenure of which having been deemed doubtful, as being held under the Dean and Chapter of Christ-Church, was secured to the society by act of parliament. The structure consists of a centre and two wings, each with a back return; the principal front has a northern aspect, looking towards the rear of the houses on Constitution Hill, but the more usual approach for purposes of business is at the rear through Henrietta-street. The centre, which is crowned with an elegant octagonal cupola and dome, forms a lofty arched gateway, with a door on each side, leading into a confined area between the wings, the northern of which contains the dining-hall, and the southern, the Prerogative and Consistorial Courts, and the repository for the registration of deeds; The Prerogative Court is established for the trial of all testamentary cases where the testator has bequeathed property in more than one diocese. Its jurisdiction is vested in the Lord-Primate, under the acts of the 28th of Henry VIII. and 2nd of Elizabeth, which gives him power to appoint the judge or commissary, who ranks next after the judges of the supreme courts.

In the Consistorial Court are decided all cases of ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the province of Dublin. The library of the King's Inns is kept in a separate building, erected in Henrietta-street in 1827, at an expense of £20,000, after designs by Mr. Darley: the upper story is a spacious apartment, with recesses for the books and a gallery continued all round; it contains a very extensive collection, which was partly the property of Christopher Robinson, Esq., senior puisne judge of the Court of King's Bench; the law books were chiefly selected by Earl Camden, Lord-Chancellor. The library was entitled to one of the eleven copies of new publications appropriated to the public institutions under the late copyright act, which right has been lately commuted for an equivalent in money. The lower part of the building contains accommodations for the librarian.

Bankrupt cases were tried before commissioners, appointed by the lord-chancellor, of whom there were 25, arranged in five sets who presided alternately; the court was held in an upper apartment of the Royal Exchange. By a late act the duties have been transferred to a single judge, under the title of Commissioner of Bankruptcies. The court for the relief of insolvent debtors was placed by an act of the 2nd of George IV. under the jurisdiction of two commissioners, to be appointed by the lord-lieutenant, who hold their court in North Strand-street, with which is connected a suite of offices on Lower Ormond Quay. Prisoners under processes from the courts of justice and insolvent debtors are confined in the Four Courts Marshalsea, a large building in Marshalsea-lane, off Thomas-street: the prison has two court-yards, two chapels, several common halls and a ball-court. The Law Club was instituted in 1791 by a number of the most respectable solicitors and attorneys: the clubhouse is a plain building in Dame-street. The Law Society was formed in 1830; it proposes to form a law library, and to erect a common hall for the purposes of the society: the meetings are at present held in chambers on the King's Inns' Quay. The Law Students' Society, instituted in 1830, consists exclusively of law students and barristers.

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