This project provides a digitized version of a manuscript by Sir Robert Forsyth Scott (1849-1933), Cambridge University Library MS Add.6707 vol. 9, that contains a consolidated index of admissions to the Inns of Court from ‘Indian’ and other non-British-born entrants between 1859 and 1887. The manuscript provides an important record of the development of the legal profession within the British Empire. The MS is provided here both as a scanned image of the handwritten pages and in transcript form.

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A short account by Leigh Denault of the issues arising from this project is available here.

Introduction to the MS and its author »
Earlier MSS versions by Foster »
Note on transliteration of Indian names »
Note on abbreviations in the text »
Acknowledgements »

Introduction to the MS and its author

Sir Robert Forsyth Scott (1849-1933) was Master of St. John's College, Cambridge between 1908 and 1933, and Vice Chancellor of the University of Cambridge from 1910 to 1912. An academic, lawyer and author, he studied as a boy in Stuttgart and Edinburgh before going to University College, London, in the early 1870s. He went on to read mathematics at St. John's College, and was elected to a fellowship in 1877. While his earliest publication was in the field of mathematics, (The Theory of Determinants and Their Applications, 1880), he would publish no further mathematical studies, turning instead to legal and institutional history. His study of law led him to become a barrister in 1883. Later publications included histories of St. John's College, Cambridge, published between 1882 and 1907. Ever the polymath, in his will, he left the St. John's College library one of the largest collection of Burmese manuscripts in Europe (see p. 38 of Margaret Burton's Famous Libraries of the World: Their History, Collections and Administrations). Other MS holdings by Scott may be found here.

In the nineteenth century, Joseph Foster worked on consolidated indexes of admissions to the Inns of Court (also at the UL, described below) that Sir Robert Forsyth Scott later updated. The excerpt which is the focus of this web project is a part of MS CUL [Cambridge University Library].Add.6699-6707 Sir Robert Forsyth Scott (d. 1933): consolidated alphabetical index of admissions to all four inns of court, covering 1801-87, 1899-1901. Autograph, in Sir Robert’s handwriting, in nine vols. Vol. 9 includes ‘Indians etc. in chronological order’, 1859-87 (f. 95-150, approx 250 individuals), Times biographical notices 1901-32 (f. 152-464, approx 1,100 individuals).

This MS listing of ‘Indian’ and other non-British-born entrants to the four Inns of Court between 1859 and 1887 provides an important record of the development of the legal profession within the context of the British Empire. Sir Robert's interest in India probably stemmed from his elder brother, George, who was a traveller to Burma, also a lawyer, and eventually assistant commissioner to the Shan States. George left the collection of Burmese material to Sir Robert, who in turn left it to the College, whence some of the material formed the UL's South East Asian Collection. The capsule biographies sometimes reference individuals who would go on to become renowned – among them Romesh Chunder Dutt (1848-1909), father of Indian economic nationalism, and Jiju Sanetomi, son of Prince Sanjo Sanetomi (1837-1891), prime minister of Japan (1889) and key politician of the Meiji Restoration. Many, however, remain obscure, with these entry notes providing clues for historians interested in prosopography of non-European professionals as they studied, practiced and travelled along imperial networks. The MS has been provided both as a scanned image of the handwritten pages, and as a typed transcription (occasionally, unclear passages will be marked with a [?] to indicate uncertainty about the transcription).

Earlier MSS versions by Foster

CUL.Add.6694-98 Joseph Foster consolidated an alphabetical index of admissions to all four inns of court, covering to 1800. Written c. 1885; at least 50,000 entries, sometimes with biographical details entered. Foster was unable to find adequate support to publish the entire series, although separate admissions registers of inns were subsequently published, that of Gray's Inn by Foster himself. Foster's Alumni Oxonienses refers to ‘Foster's Inns of Court Reg.’ Subsequently, the MSS belonged to Sir Robert Forsyth Scott, Master of John's (d. 1933, presented to UL by Lady Scott)

Add.6708-6721. Consolidated alphabetical index of calls to bar in the four Inns of Court, 1518-1887. Autograph. Contains more biographical notes than in admissions series, notes augmented by newspaper information by Robert Scott. Referred to in Foster's Al. Ox. as ‘Foster's Judges and Barristers'.

Note on transliteration of Indian names

I have not modernized the spelling of the names overall, simply transcribing the original document. Where individuals are better known by a different spelling, or place names vary significantly from modern terminology, I have added the more usual spelling in a footnote and occasionally clarified the location of various towns and institutions.

Note on abbreviations in the text

The following initials designate the four Inns of Court:
G.I.: Gray’s Inn
L.I.: Lincoln’s Inn
I.T.: Inner Temple
M.T.: Middle Temple

Biographies often contain a variation on abbreviations such as ‘I.S.S.’ or I.S.’ for ‘issue’, ‘O.S.’ (only son) ‘est.S.’ (eldest son) or 3.S (third son), etc.

‘N.W.P.’ stands for the North-Western Provinces of British India, later called the ‘United Provinces of Agra and Oudh’, and the boundaries are roughly the same as the present-day Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. ‘Zemindar’ (literally landlord, a term often used to define a class whose income derived from agrarian estate surplus and rent, modern spelling: zamindar) is often used interchangeably with ‘landowner’ and ‘landed proprietor’


Many thanks are due to Dr. David Palfrey, who brought this fascinating MS to our attention and inspired the transcription and digitization project for the Digitization of History website. Dr. Palfrey has served as a member of the advisory board for the Digitization of History project since 2008.

We also thank the Syndics of the University Library for their kind permission to add the transcription and scan to our website.


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