The initials stand for Queen’s Counsel: “a barrister of seniority and experience who has been granted this title in recognition of eminence in the law. The colloquial phrase of becoming a Q.C. is ‘to take the silk,’ because a barrister who is a Q.C. wears a silk gown, whereas other barristers wear a ‘stuff’ gown” (244). On their appointment they are called “within the bar” and thereafter sit on the front row of the court, which is separated from other advocate rows by a wooden bar in the older courts (142). When a queen is replaced by a king, all those Q.C.’s become K.C.’s (257).

Shepherd (263) notes that in this opera the Q.C. title apparently belongs to the notary, which seems strange because notaries are of a separate profession. Donkin (257) explains that some barristers are also notaries, and even one who was a Q.C. would be honored to officiate at a betrothal ceremony uniting the parish’s two foremost families. Burgess (60) hypothesizes that Mr Wells is using the term ironically.


And that respectable Q.C.

Act II