The meaning of Serjeants


A Serjeant-at-Law, commonly known simply as a Serjeant, was a member of an order of barristers at the English bar. The position of Serjeant-at-Law was centuries old; there are writs dating to 1300 which identify them as descended from figures in France prior to the Norman Conquest. The Serjeants were the oldest formally created order in England, having been brought into existence as a body by Henry II. The order rose during the 16th century as a small, elite group of lawyers who took much of the work in the central common law courts. With the creation of Queen's Counsel during the reign of Elizabeth I, the order gradually began to decline, with each monarch opting to create more King's or Queen's Counsel. The last purely English Serjeant-at-Law was Lord Lindley, who died in 1921 (see photo).

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