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This study traces the history of the law of bills and notes in England from medieval times to the period in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries when bills played a central role in the domestic and international financial system. It challenges the traditional theory that English commercial law developed by incorporation of the concept of negotiability and other rules from an ancient body of customary law known as the law merchant. Rogers shows that the law of bills was developed within the common law system itself, in response to changing economic and business practices. This account draws on economic and business history to explain how bills were actually used and to examine the relationship between the law of bills and economic and social controversies.