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Legal history: England & common law tradition: 1820-1914

Commentary and sources

Three volumes of the Oxford History of the Laws of England are now key introductions to this period. Their bibliographies & footnotes should be useful tools to begin wider searches of literature.

Printed resources

A lot of material for this period may well be in the Law Bod's normal open shelf collections!
However, the fact that the  LawBod keeps superseded editions of English law books in a Secondary Collection may be particularly useful. The shelfmarks of old editions end with (sec coll). If you wish to consult one of these editions, please just ask a member of staff for directions.

SOLO searches will find you examples both books and ebooks. Look out for the shelf marks: they may not be in the Law Bod, but in another part of the Bodleian...

The print copies of this first group are in the Bodleian Law LIbrary

Books which are in the Bodleian History collections

Example of a book where the print copy could be requested from the Closed Stacks if preferred. Please ask a Bodleian staff member for assistance.

Regnal years & legislation

George IV 29 Jan 1820 - 26 June 1830

William IV 26 June 1830 - 20 June 1837

Victoria 20 June 1837 - 22 Jan 1901

Edward VII 22 Jan 1901 - 6 May 1910

George V 6 May 1910 - 20 Jan 1936


Courts and Reporters Active

The opening of this period coincides with a marked improvement in law reporting.The House of Lord had led the way by appointing official reporters to record their reasoning. A succession of recognized (authorized?) reporters began covering the superior courts of law and equity from 1820.  The English Reports (ER) and the Revised Reports are both available in print in the Law Bod, or online for holders of an Oxford SSO via H

The English Reports reprinted the nominate reports; the Revised Reports concentrated on "Such Cases in the English Courts of Common Law and Equity, from the Year 1785, as Are Still  [as of 1891] of Practical Utility" These are available via HeinOnline, Lexis+ UK and Westlaw Edge UK for holders of an Oxford SSO and via CommonLII on the free web.

The All England Reprint volumes (available online via Lexis for holders of an Oxford SSo) have a smaller selection of old reports from 1558 onwards, including those from the Law Times Reports 1843-1975

In 1866, the Incorporated Council for Law Reporting produced the first volume of the Law Reports, and the law student branching into legal history will be in familiar territory at last!

Official papers