The Selden Society was founded by F.W. Maitland in 1887 to encourage the study and advance the knowledge of the history of English Law. For the past 130 years, we have taken up Maitland’s mission both through the publication of works on English legal history, and by encouraging the exchange of ideas between members through lectures, meetings and correspondence. The Selden Society also seeks to promote research in legal history among younger scholars through the Milsom PhD scholarship, a grant in aid of archival research (the Holt award) and the David Yale Prize for outstanding research by a younger scholar.
In our annual series of Selden Society volumes, we aim to produce definitive editions of unpublished material on English legal history. They include editions of legal records, such as cases taken from plea rolls, unpublished law reports and judicial notebooks. In addition, they include editions of legal treatises and collections of Readings and Moots at the Inns of Court. These volumes contain the full original text coupled with a modern translation, made as accessible as possible for the modern reader. Each volume also includes a substantial introductory essay, surveying and discussing the materials presented, putting them in their legal and historical contexts and explaining their wider significance. These volumes are distributed free of charge to members. In these volumes, the scholar can trace the evolution of the common law since its foundation, as well as changing notions of law and justice held by members of the legal profession.
In addition, the Society has published a number of volumes in its supplementary series. These include a number of volumes on the history of the legal profession, both at the Inns of Court and the Inns of Chancery, as well as volumes containing the letters and diaries of judges, and shorter treatises. These volumes are offered for sale.
The Selden Society is governed by a President and Council who are elected for three years. The current President is Nicholas Le Poidevin QC. The Society’s membership and day-to-day affairs are administered by the Secretary at the School of Law, Queen Mary, University of London. In the main Commonwealth countries and the United States, membership matters are administered by our local Secretaries and Treasurers.