Yorkshire Law Society

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The Yorkshire Law Society traces its history back to 1786 and the publication of the following announcement:

“Many Gentlemen being of the Opinion that General Meetings, to be occasionally held, will be of public utility and productive of useful Regulations; and a Bill in Parliament is intended which may materially affect the Profession, a General Meeting of ATTORNIES and SOLICITORS resident in the County and City of York and of such others as attend the Assizes, is requested to be held at the house of MR. RINGROSE in York on TUESDAY EVENING next, the 21st March, instant, precisely at SEVEN o’clock to consider of the Heads of the proposed Bill, and fix upon a proper Plan for establishing General Meetings in the future.”

The Yorkshire Law Society was thus established at the meeting convened, during the reign of George III and the days of William Pitt “the Younger”. It is therefore the second oldest of the now numerous regional law societies in England & Wales.

Since its formation, the Yorkshire Law Society has continued to thrive. In 1985 the Society was formally incorporated into a private company limited by guarantee and continues to operate in this form to this day.

Whilst the Yorkshire Law Society is now no longer the only law society within the Yorkshire counties, it has always been proud of its heritage and retains its original representative name.

Yorkshire Law Society Silver 

Few members are perhaps aware of the existence of the Society's silver collection which is kept in store. The collection is made up of three items, all of which have inscriptions.

Small CupThis is the smallest of the three pieces - a tankard bearing two separate inscriptions as follows:
Presented to Jonathan Gray Esq

by the Yorkshire Law Society at the Lent Afsizes
Presented to the Yorkshire Law Society at the Lent Afsizes, 1877
by William Gray, son of Jonathan Gray

Tony Lawton, Associate Member, formerly of Grays, Past President of the Society, and author of

'The Yorkshire Law Society-a personal tribute',  has been able to provide us with some further information with regards to this particular piece:

Jonathan Gray was much involved with the Society.  His father, William (William Senior 1751-1845) had been a founder member, as well as being Honorary Secretary for a year in 1787, Vice President in 1790 and President in 1791.  Jonathan (1779-1837 - he was outlived by his father), served on the committee set up in the summer of 1814 to make representations to the judges about the inadequacy of costs allowed on party and party taxations in the common law courts.  He and two others formed a deputation which went down to London to bend the judges' ears - not with any great success it has to be said.  Jonathan became Vice President in 1816 and President a year later when the Society presented him with the tankard.  He was to remain on the committee until 1826.  Tony has been unable to find any direct references to the tankard in the Minutes, although has found a reference to the costs issue at a meeting held on 4th July 1815 in which a resolution was passed "That the cordial thanks of this Society be given to Mr Chas. Frost, Mr Garland and Mr John. Gray for their great and able exertions in carrying into effect the objects of the Society with respect to costs de incremento" and that "it is the opinion of this Society that some compliment should be made to those gentelmen for their services" and that "the manner of doing this be referred to a committee of 3 members composed of Mr Jno. Brook, Mr Shepherd, Mr Newstead".  At the next general meeting on 14th March 1816, Messrs Brook, Shepherd and Newstead duly reported "on the manner of complimenting Mr Chas Frost, Mr Garland and Mr John. Gray" but unfortunately the Minutes don't go into detail, merely recording that the report was read, followed by a resolution "that the same be carried into effect".  The following general meeting on 11th March 1817 makes no further reference to the matter, so it can only be an assumption that in the case of Jonathan Gray the "compliment" referred to took the form of the tankard - although it may be disconnected.

Tony also discovered a reference in the Society's annual report dated 18th July 1877 which reads as follows:-

At the Lent Assizes 1816, the Society presented to the late JONATHAN GRAY, ESQUIRE, a SILVER TANKARD, in recognition of the valuable services rendered to him; and your Committee have great pleasure in recording the fact that his son WILLIAM GRAY, ESQUIRE, your present honorary Treasurer, has generously given such Tankard to the Society to be hereafter used as a "Loving Cup".

The same report unanimously resolved that "the best thanks of this Meeting to be tendered" to Mr Gray.

Large Cup


This is the largest piece (depicting three ladies holding a bowl) and is inscribed as follows:

Presented to

William Thorpe, Esq., Solicitor, Thorne,

at a Dinner given to him at Fendalls Hotel, London

by his clients and friends

as a token of their warm esteem of this worth & virtues

in private as well as public life

and in acknowledgment of the indefatigable zeal & skill

displayed by him in his profession during many years and particularly in the successful results of important railway cases entrusted in his care. 27th May, 1857


William Thorpe joined the Society on 27th May 1857.  Solicitors at this period were heavily involved in the promotion of railway bills in parliament and York was a major railway centre.  Fendalls Hotel, where the dinner took place, was a well known London hotel of the period situated in Palace Yard, Westminster.

Three Handled CupThis third, and most recent piece bears the following inscription:
 Presented to
The Yorkshire Law Society
William Lowther Carrick
President 1911
JUS VIM VINCIT (translation: Justice conquers force)

William Carrick joined the Society on 25th July 1890.  A Special General Meeting on 29th January 1912 contains the following entry:

6. Moved by Mr F J Munby, Seconded by Mr J E Jones

That the best thanks of the Society be accorded to the President for his services during the past year and particularly for his gift of a Loving Cup of the Society.  Carried by acclamation.

The Annual Report for 1941 under the heading 'Obituary' contains brief details:

William Lowther Carrick of Stokesley.  He was admitted in 1880 and joined the Society in 1890.  He occupied the office of President in the year 1911.  During his year of office he presented to the Society a handsome silver Loving Cup.


To view a full list of members dating from 1786 to 2008, click here.

All cups


© 2008-2017 Yorkshire Law Society Limited Registration No: 1902873 Registered Office: Ware & Kay Brunswick Court, Victoria Street, Wetherby, England, LS22 6RE. All rights reserved

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