The Inns of Court came to be known as “the third university of England” under the Tudor reigns, when they established the superiority of common law over civil codes of foreign origin, and their own claim as the only competent organism for legal training. They were formed as a society of lawyers in the last quarter of the fourteenth century, but may have begun in the 1340s when the settlement of the royal law courts in Westminster drew professional counsels to find lodgings nearby, on the slope of Holborn. A document of 1388 mentions the names of three inns, Gray’s, Inner Temple and Middle Temple. The appellation “Inns of Court” appears later, with their first records, around 1425, an ambiguity cultivated to …
Goy-Blanquet, Dominique. "Inns of Court". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 12 July 2006; last revised 30 November -1.
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=1672, accessed 26 April 2015.]