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

Regnal years

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

Oxford History of the Laws of England

Three volumes of the Oxford History of the Laws of England are now key texts for starting this period.

Their bibliographies & footnotes should be useful tools to begin wider searches of literature.

Holders of an Oxford SSO can read all three volumes online (via links below), or consult the print volumes in the Law Library

1820-1914: Sources and commentary

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However, the fact that the  LawBod keeps superseded editions of English law books in a Secondary Collection may be particularly useful.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.


1834 Six farm workers in Tolpuddle (Dorset) were transported to Australia for administering an illegal oath with the intention of forming a trade union. They would be pardoned before the end of the 7 year sentence.

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...

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.

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"

The All England Reprint volumes (available online via LexisLibrary 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