Doctors' Commons

Various artists/makers

Not on view

Rowlandson and Pugin here describe the hall of a self-governing, teaching body known as the College of Civilians (or Society of Doctors' Commons) on Paternoster Row. Its members specialized in ecclesiastical and civil law (as opposed to English common law), earned doctorates at Oxford or Cambridge, then were admitted as advocates by the Dean of Arches who served the archbishop of Canterbury. The fellows worked with proctors whose duties paralleled those of solicitors and, in court, concerned themselves with cases of Church and Admiralty law. On an everyday level, they verified and stored documents such as wills and marriage and divorce certificates. By the mid-nineteenth century, as England moved towards establishing a centralized supreme court in charge of both civil and common law, the Doctor's Commons became obsolete and would be dissolved.

Doctors' Commons, Designed and etched by Thomas Rowlandson (British, London 1757–1827 London), Hand-colored etching and aquatint

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