queen's counsel (king's counsel). These were barristers appointed in the late 16th cent. to assist the law officers of the crown in the conduct of legal affairs. Unlike the serjeants at law they belonged to the Inns of Court. During the 18th cent. they ceased to be closely connected with the crown and the title came to be merely a mark of honour for distinguished barristers. They are said to ‘take silk’ on appointment, as they then wear a silk gown instead of a ‘stuff’ gown. To some extent they replaced the serjeants at law whose office died out in the 19th cent. in that they became the senior members of their profession.
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