Selden Society
F.W. Maitland

The Selden Society is the only learned society and publisher devoted entirely to English legal history.  This includes the history of the law, the development of legal ideas, the legal profession, the courts and legal institutions, individual judges and lawyers, legal literature and records, the languages of the law, legal portraiture and costume;  in short, researching the history of everything which is characteristic of our unique English common law and legal system.   And because for most of the nation’s history, the only continuous records have been legal records, there is in them a wealth of incidental information on every aspect of contemporary life and conditions to be found in no other source.

The Society was founded in 1887 by Frederic William Maitland, with the support of the judges, the Inns of Court, the universities and the legal profession, in England, the United States and other countries.  Queen Victoria was its first Patron and it continues to enjoy royal patronage.

Membership:  This now stands at nearly 1,700.   It includes most of the major law and history libraries in the English-speaking world, as well as many leading national and university libraries in other countries.   However most members are individuals:  lawyers and historians, including many whose interest is amateur and who support the Society because of their sense of the importance of its work.   We welcome new members.   No formal qualification is needed;  only an appreciation of the Society’s achievement and a desire to be associated with its continuing work.

Organisation:  The Society is a charity.  It is governed by a President and Council who are elected for three years.  The current President is the Right Honourable Lord Judge, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.  A number of places on the Council are reserved for persons outside the UK and these are filled by distinguished judges, lawyers and historians from the common law world and beyond.  In addition, the Inns of Court, Law Society and British Academy each nominate representatives on the Council.  The scholarly work of the Society is supervised by its Literary Director, Professor Sir John Baker, QC, FBA. His predecessors in this post have been the pre-eminent legal historians of the day:  Maitland himself, Vinogradoff, Holdsworth, Plucknett and Milsom.  

Administration:   The Society’s membership and day-to-day affairs are administered by the Secretary, Victor Tunkel, at the School of Law, Queen Mary, Mile End Road, London E1  4NS.  In the main Commonwealth countries and the United States, membership matters are administered by our local Secretaries and Treasurers.

Publications:   Some 150 volumes have appeared with the Society’s imprint in its annual, Supplementary and other series.  These continue at the rate of one or more each year.   Most of the annual volumes consist of original source materials, never before in print:  early law reports, courts’ records, judges’ notebooks, legal treatises, precedent and practice books, and compilations of documents brought together by the Society’s editors for the first time.  Each volume has the full original text coupled with a modern translation, made as accessible as possible for the modern reader.  Although the Society does not publish monographs as such, it does provide in each volume a substantial introductory essay, surveying and discussing the materials presented, putting them in their legal and historical context as well as offering more wide-ranging information, for example of a biographical or linguistic nature.  These introductions themselves constitute much of the modern research the subject has received. The annual volumes may be found listed here.

There is also a Supplementary Series, including bibliographies of manuscripts, lists identifying judges and leading lawyers down the centuries, and shorter works not appropriate for the main (annual) volumes.  The Supplementary Series may be found listed here.

The whole of both series are in print.   Vols 1 – 99 are obtainable from Hein Inc.  More recent volumes are obtainable from the Society, as are volumes in the Supplementary Series.

In 1988 the Society published a Centenary Guide volume to its first hundred years’ publications, summarising their contents.  It also contains a history of the Society and lists all its officers since 1887.  The Guide may be found listed here along with other volumes published by the Society.

Meetings:   An annual general meeting is held each July in Lincoln’s Inn.  This is a business meeting at which members consider the annual report and accounts and elect Council members.  The meeting is sometimes concluded with a public lecture, which is later published in the Society’s lecture series and sent to all members.   Following the meeting a buffet supper is offered to members and their guests.  Local meetings are regularly held in some countries overseas, notably in the United States and Australia. 

Subscriptions:  Our work depends largely upon the income from members’ subscriptions.   The rates are:

 

 individuals 

institutions

 

 

 

United Kingdom:

£30

£40

 

 

 

United States:

$65

$90

 

 

 

other countries:

£35

£45

These rates include all dispatch costs.   They entitle a member to annual volumes, annual reports, published lectures, a copy of the Society’s handbook Publications, List of Members and Rules, and other occasional distributions;  concessional rates on the Supplementary Series, on volumes published by the Ames Foundation, and on new books by other publishers from whom we obtain special offers for members.   A new member may backdate to any recent year so as to obtain all volumes from then to the current year.

Research Assistance:  A further benefit of membership is our service in answering inquiries, obtaining information to assist individuals’ research, dealing with librarians’ and collectors’ queries, and in finding secondhand copies of our back volumes and of scarce legal history works generally.

Applications:   You may use our application form.  We will then send you further information or put you in touch with our appropriate overseas secretary.   We look forward to welcoming you to membership.

TO:  Secretary,  Selden Society, School of Law, Queen Mary, Mile End Road, London E1  4NS, England.

Phone:  (+44) (0) 20 7882 3968

Fax:      (+44) (0) 20 7882 7636

Email:   selden-society@qmul.ac.uk


Current Publications

Supplementary Series

Lectures & Pamphlets

Back Volumes

Centenary Guide

David Yale Prize

Research Enquiries

Ames Foundation

Annual General Meeting

Officers and Council

Hein Inc.

Application Form

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This page last updated 10/04/12. Contact Rosemary Spang with comments.
URL: http://www.selden-society.qmul.ac.uk /index.shtml.
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