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Selden Society (11th-19th century)

The Selden Society was founded in 1887 by Frederic William Maitland, with the support of the judges, the Inns of Court, the universities and the legal profession, in England, the United States and other countries. It claims to be the only learned society and publisher devoted entirely to English legal history. This includes the history of the law, the development of legal ideas, the legal profession, the courts and legal institutions, individual judges and lawyers, legal literature and records, the languages of the law, legal portraiture and costume. In addition, because for most of the nation’s history, the only continuous records have been legal records, they contain a wealth of incidental information on many aspects of contemporary life and conditions to be found in no other source.

Most of the volumes consist of original source materials, never previously published: early law reports, courts’ records, judges’ notebooks, legal treatises, precedent and practice books. Each volume has the full original text together with a modern translation and a substantial introductory essay surveying and discussing the materials and setting them in their legal and historical context. Additional more wide-ranging information, for example of a biographical or linguistic nature, is also included. 

The Library holds c. 125 volumes published from 1887 to date. Examples of titles held include: Select Coroners’ Rolls; Select Pleas in the Court of Admiralty; Select Cases before the King’s Council 1243-1482; Readings and Moots at the Inns of Court; Yearbooks 6 & 7 Edward II 1313; and, English Lawsuits from William I to Richard I.