Sir Richard Alfred Pinsent of Birmingham, president of the Law Society, set the ball rolling with £1,000. The prime minister, the Rt Hon David Lloyd George MP, chipped in with five guineas (£5.25).
They were among the 950-odd members of the profession listed as contributing to the Solicitors' War Memorial Fund (registered under the War Charities Act, 1916). The appeal opened in January 1919 to raise funds for a permanent memorial to the 569 solicitors and 341 articled clerks who had died in the war. By June 1919, the fund had raised more than £30,000.
A list of contributions shows donations from at least 950 members of the profession. They are listed in descending order of size, noting 'Amounts raised from Country Solicitors are so marked, the remainder are from London Solicitors.'
A surprising number of firms on the list are still recognisable, especially at the top end of the table: Hill, Dickinson & Co of Liverpool donated £525, Coward & Hawksley, Sons & Chance the same sum. Slaughter & May (sic) decided on £315, Linklater & Co £265, Wragge & Co Birmingham, £200. The largest anonynmous donation was £300.
Apart from the prime minister, the list includes some notable political names. Arthur Greenwood, who would rise to deputy leader of the Labour Party and serve in Churchill's war cabinet, donated 10 guineas. The Rt. Hon KBE MP Sir Donald Maclean, leader of the Liberal opposition to Lloyd George's coalition, donated the same sum.
Some donations recall specific losses. Newcastle-upon-Tyne firm Clayton & Gibson donated £150 'In Memoriam, Lieut. W.R.A. Wareing MC, killed in action March 23, 1918.' The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records that William Wareing was 27 and a captain (presumably promoted posthumously) in the King's (Liverpool) Regiment and is buried in Seraucourt-le-Grand cemetery, in the Somme battlefield of Picardy. He enlisted in August 1914 and served three years on the Western front.
Herbert Lidiard of London donated five guineas. His son and articled clerk, Richard John Abraham Lidiard, a lieutenant in the 3rd City of London Battallion Royal Fusiliers, was one of so many killed on 1 July 1916.
Further down the list, a Mrs Julia Gill, of London, donated two guineas. Two Law Society members of that surname were killed in the war. Like the others, they are commemorated on the walls of the Reading Room in Chancery Lane, which is still dominated by a memorial by sculptor Gilbert Bayes RA.
Opening the appeal, Sir Richard Pinsent said: 'It is not a charity we are proposing to dispense, it is the discharge - and it can only be an inadequate one - of a debt of gratitude.'