03 November 2022

JOURNAL: The Journal of Legal History, XLII (2021, nr. 3)

(Image source: Taylor&Francis online)


The Requirement of a Deed in the Action of Covenant (David Ibbetson) / DOI: 10.1080/01440365.2021.1996037

The origin of the rule that an action of covenant required a deed is something of a mystery, although its consequences were of the greatest importance in the development of the common law. The most recent contribution to the debate has even doubted whether it was a rule of the action of covenant at all. The present article aims to cast as much light on this as possible given the surviving evidence. It restates the traditional view that it was indeed a rule of the action of covenant, dates its appearance, and tentatively suggests that it had may have had a legislative or quasi-legislative origin.

Confessors’ Manuals and the Practice of Law in Medieval Ecclesiastical Courts (J. S. Kirkland) / DOI: 10.1080/01440365.2021.1996039

This article suggests that confessors’ manuals are key to understanding the practice of law in the late medieval ecclesiastical courts. Using court records from fifteenth-century England, it suggests that the courts may have used the ideas found in confessors’ manuals in their application of the law. Court scribes seem to have included information in the court records which was vital to confessors’ manuals, but inconsequential from the perspective of the official canon law. If confessors’ manuals were deemed acceptable sources of law by medieval ecclesiastical courts, then it would add yet another layer to the complexity to medieval law.

Summary Jurisdiction and the Decline of Criminal Jury Trial in Victorian England (Conor Hanly) / DOI: 10.1080/01440365.2021.1996032

Trial by jury was the standard dispositive mechanism for felony trials in England at the start of the nineteenth century. By the end of the century, the summary courts were dealing with a large number of formerly felony cases. This change came about as a result of the inefficiencies of the jury process, which resulted in a push to expand the jurisdiction of the summary courts. Three statutes – the Juvenile Offenders Act 1847, the Larceny Act 1850, and the Criminal Justice Act 1855 – enacted in the middle of the century transferred jurisdiction to deal with the great majority of larcenies from the courts of Quarter Sessions to the Petty Sessional courts. To enact these statutes, reformers had to overcome considerable opposition. The consequence of the new legislation was to initiate a decline in the use of the criminal jury that continues to this day.

Britain, Rhodesia, and the Law of Treason, 1964–1980 (Hugh Pattenden) / DOI: 10.1080/01440365.2021.1996043

This article explores the law of treason in relation to the run up to and unfolding of the Rhodesian Unilateral Declaration of Independence crisis of 1965–80. It considers how contemporaries debated the applicability of the treason laws to the unique situation created by the actions of the Smith government, and shows how it was unclear exactly who was culpable, and under what laws they would be so. In doing this it demonstrates how accusations of treason came to be used as a political tool, and the extent to which treachery was still a concept within the national mindset in the late 1960s and 1970s. Finally, it suggests that the law was arguably in need of serious reform, but that the unusual circumstances of the Rhodesian rebellion served to obscure how far this was the case.


Edward Coke, William West, and the Law of Libel (Joseph Mansky) / DOI: 10.1080/01440365.2021.1996042

This note uncovers a new source for Edward Coke’s seminal account of the law of libel in his 1605 report De libellis famosis: the second part of William West’s Symboleography (1594). West adapted much of his popular English law book, including his definition of libel, from the work of the German civilian Hermann Vulteius. Coke in turn borrowed wholesale from West. That borrowing not only underscores the sixteenth-century roots of Coke’s law of libel but also suggests the difficulty of disentangling common law practice from civil law precept in late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century England.


  • Loving Justice: Legal Emotions in William Blackstone’s England by Kathryn D. Temple, New York, New York University Press, 2019, ix + 265 pp., (including index), $ 45, (hardback), ISBN 9781479895274 (Andrew J. Cecchinato). DOI: 10.1080/01440365.2021.1996027

Read the whole issue with Taylor & Francis Online.

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