In 1713 my 7th great-uncle William Champion Crespigny (1698 – 1721) was apprenticed to Edward Mills, gentleman, of the Inner Temple. William’s father Thomas, who died in 1712, had been a soldier, but William was following in the profession of his uncle Pierre Champion Crespigny (1652 – 1739). William’s younger brother Philip (1704 – 1765) was also apprenticed to a lawyer in 1718.

The Inner Temple is one of the four London Inns of Court, professional associations which trained barristers. The others are Middle Temple, Lincolns Inn, and Gray’s Inn.

Each of the four Inns of Court has three ordinary grades of membership: students, barristers, and masters of the bench or “benchers”. The benchers constitute the governing body for each Inn, with the right to appoint new members from among their barrister members.

In the 14th century the Inner Temple began training lawyers. Many of this Inn’s buildings were destroyed in the Great Fire of London. Some of what remained was damaged in two more fires in 1677 and 1678.

William Champion Crespigny does not seem to have been admitted to the Inner Temple. His name is not recorded in the admissions register. He died in 1721.

There are two Edward Mills listed on the list of admissions in the seventeenth century. The master of William Champion Crespigny was probably Edward Mills, admitted 26 October 1673 and called to the bar on 12 February 1682. Mill’s occupation is given as ‘gentleman’ and his address City of London. Being ‘Called to the Bar’ was the formal ceremony by which student members were promoted to the status of barrister.

Members of the Inns of Court were in theory men who wished to become barristers. But besides these, many joined an Inn without going on to be called to the Bar. Before the twentieth century this second group was relatively numerous. Attending one of the Inns of Court was a way to make good social contacts, not necessarily to qualify as a barrister.

The admissions registers of the Inns have been digitised. I have looked for members of my family associated with them.

I have been unable to find anyone of the Champion de Crespigny family being admitted to the Inner Temple.

The admissions register of Middle Temple, however, shows Herbert J. W.S.C. de Crespigny admitted on 23 April 1822 and William O.R.C. de Crespigny admitted on 6 November 1807. Herbert Joseph Champion de Crespigny (1805 – 1881) and William Other Robert Champion de Crespigny (1789 – 1816) were my 2nd cousins 5 times removed. They were sons of William, the second baronet. William Other Robert was much lamented when he died very young, much like his great grand uncle William, who died at the age of twenty-three.

Another Middle Temple relative was Edward Mainwaring (1635 – 1703), one of my eighth great grandfathers, who was admitted to Middle Temple on 24 November 1652. The register of admissions states: EDWARD MAINWARING, son and heir of Edward M., of Whitmore, Staffs., esq. Edward, then 17 years old, was a student at Christ’s College Cambridge. There are other Mainwarings on the register of admissions to Inner Temple but none of them seem to be of the Whitmore Mainwaring line.

At Lincoln’s Inn, Claude Crespigny, gen., eldest son of Philip Champion C., of Doctors Commons, London, Esq. was admitted on 23 October 1750 aged fifteen. Claude Crespigny (1734 – 1818), my 6th great uncle, was Receiver-General of the Droits of Admiralty. He later became the first baronet. Claude Crespigny was educated at Eton, and became a Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge. When he died in 1818 it was at his house at Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

Another of my Lincoln’s Inn relatives was George Crespigny (17), “2 s. Charles Fox Champion C., of Tally-Uyn Ho., co. Brecon, gent.”, admitted to Lincoln’s Inn on 4 November 1833. George Blicke Champion de Crespigny (1815 – 1893), my fourth great uncle, did not go on to follow the legal profession but joined the army ending up as Lieutenant Colonel and Paymaster.

I have found no de Crespigny family connection with Gray’s Inn. There is no one of that surname on the Register of Admissions 1521 – 1889. There is one distantly related Mainwaring, however: Philip Mainwaring (1589 – 1661), who was admitted to Gray’s Inn on 14 March 1609. Philip was my second cousin 12 times removed. He became a member of Parliament and Principal Secretary to the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Lord Strafford.


Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, with Sir Philip Mainwaring c.1639–40 by Anthony Van Dyck in the collection of the Tate, image retrieved from Wikimedia Commons

Inns of Court map

Sketch plan of the Inns of Court from The Inns of Court Author: Cecil Headlam Illustrator: Gordon Home first published 1909 and reissued as an ebook by Project Gutenberg

Legal London

Legal London, A Map showing the Inns of Court and places frequented by the Learned in Law, 1931 retrieved from the British Library


Further reading