Why Do English Lawyers wear Wigs?

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Why Do English Lawyers wear Wigs?

Initially, when the English barristers started wearing wigs, it was only to maintain style. They followed uninterruptedly wearing the wigs as it was not stopped by anyone. Wigs are costly and the barristers were offered stipend to pay for their wigs. Sometimes there was necessity to buy their own wigs by the barristers and some lawyers used to buy the wigs that were already used by others. There is an opinion about the reason for the lawyers to follow the tradition of wearing the wig as they tried to keep up their dignity of law towards the accused people. There is also another opinion by the people that the lawyers might not be recognized by others outside the court, if they use wigs. It will act as an element of disguise that protects the lawyer from those who try to harm them outside the court.

In earlier days, a head cover of one kind was used by the lawyers. After that the tradition of using the ‘black flat bonnet cap’ was in use. Then the lawyers began using wigs in the year 1680. From that period the legal wig was seen as white or grey colored hair for about 150 years. Later in the year 1822, a wig that is meant only for the lawyers called as legal wig was invented by ‘Humphrey Ravens croft’. This wig was comprised of greyish white horse hair which was not having curling, powdered, perfumed and frizzing characteristics.

Till the capital punishment was stopped in the year 1969, the lawyers were wearing black caps when they were announcing death sentence. Then the wigs were started to be used for the purpose of fashion. The manufacturing of wigs was done by taking the hair from the people for money. There was a trading done with the hair of the dead. It was found that the lice that were present in the wigs were spreading to the original hair of the lawyers. To maintain the hygiene they used to shave their head beneath the wigs. Now, the tradition has continued and wearing wigs has become a part of the court dress.

Author: Hari M

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