The Legal Profession and the Common Law: Historical Essays
Published: July 1986
Publisher: Hambledon Press
Country of Publication: UK
Out of Print
The importance of the law in early modern England and the interest of the legal profession and its workings are both acknowledged by historians. Yet a great deal of research remains to the done, especially on the period termed by J. H. Baker 'The Dark Age of Legal History'.
Few other writers have however done as much to establish landmarks in this area and to map out avenues for future investigation. Dr. Baker's work is marked by an ability, shown in his An Introduction to English Legal History, to write clearly on technical subjects, and an exceptional knowledge of both old legal books and the manuscript sources.
The Legal Profession and the Common Law is a substantial and coherent collection of articles written over the last fifteen years by Dr. Baker. Amongst the topics dealt with are:-
- the early history of the Inns of Court and the nature of their association;
- the historical development of - the professions of barrister and solicitor;
- Coke's method in writing and how his account has dominated the interpretation of Slade's case;
- the conflict between Coke and Ellesmere over Chancery jurisdiction in 1616;
- an unfinished legal masterpiece by Edward Littleton (1645), a direct descendant of the famous Sir Thomas;
- the so-called incorporation of the Law Merchant into the Common Law;
- and the Doctrine of Consideration.
There is also an outline of the processes of criminal law, some rare criminal reports from Newgate in the time of James I, and an account of the means by which the substantive law was gradually refined from the time of Henry VII to that of the Victorian law reforms. The volume ends with some reflections on legal changes in the Renaissance period.