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Nothing is known of the origin or early history of the Library of Gray's Inn. The first mention of it which has been found in the existing records of the Society, is in an Account, dated 1568, of certain repairs which had been done, in that year, to a “Chamber by yo Lyberary."
ye ” And it appears from several Orders of Pension made in the reign of Elizabeth, between the years 1571 and 1588, that candidates for the degree of Utter-Barrister had to perform, “ at the Skreen in the Library,” those exercises which were then prescribed, as a condition to their obtaining that degree. But there are no means of knowing what, or how many books the Library then contained ; although it is pretty certain, that the collection must have been small, even for those days.
During the early part of the seventeenth century, however, the members of the Inn appear to have taken a very lively interest in the state of the Library, and to have added greatly to its contents by donations of books. Among the earliest of these donors were the following, viz. (in 1634) Finch, afterwards Lord Keeper, and Sir J. Banks, who was then Attorney-General, and afterwards became Chief Justice of the Common Pleas; (in 1635) Sir Richard Hutton, one of the Justices of the Common Pleas; Sir Edward Moseley, Attorney-General for the County Pala