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Law: Legal History

The library guide for Cambridge University's Squire Law Library.

Legal History at the University of Cambridge

The Law Faculty is very proud of its eminence in the field of English legal history. The University of Cambridge's main library (the University Library) is a legal deposit library and has been collecting legal materials for hundreds of years. This historical material is now split between the Maitland Legal History Room at the Squire Law Library and the Rare Books room at the University Library.

Squire Librarian

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David Wills
Squire Law Library
10 West Road
- 44 1223 330077

Using old books and materials

Please consult this guide for advice on using old materials to ensure their preservation.

Digital resources

The following digital resources are particularly useful for legal historical research:

Anglo-American Legal Tradition - digitised images of Corum Regis Rolls

Maitland Legal History Room

Photo of a bust of Frederic Maitland surrounded by rare books in the Maitland Legal History Room of the Squire Law Library.

The Maitland Legal History Room in the Squire Law Library includes an extensive collection of historical legal treatises, the nominate law reports, abridgments, statutes and other documents of interest to legal historians of English law but there is also material on the common law, European continental law and public international law.

The Maitland Room is closed access so please speak to a member of staff at the enquiry desk.

University Library

Various historical legal material is also held in the Rare Books Room and the Manuscripts Room at the University Library. The material held in Rare Books (such as very old editions of treatises and textbooks) can be located via the iDiscover catalogue and then requested to be fetched.

The University Archives also holds some historical material from local courts, a brief summary of which is given on the Manuscripts and Archives webpages.

Some legal history e-journals

Click on the covers to access the content

Journal of Legal History cover Journal of the History of International Law
Grotiana Fundamina


Maitland Legal History Room

The Maitland Legal History Room opened in 2004. Follow this link for an article in Lawlink about the opening.

Members of the law faculty and Lord Chancellor Irvine chat amongst the books on the official opening of the Maitland Legal History Room.

Centre for English Legal History

The Centre for English Legal History was established in 2012 to provide a hub for researchers working in legal history across the University of Cambridge.

Legal Biographies

The Squire has a dedicated legal biography collection including texts on lawyers, politicians and judges. Many of the volumes have been donated to the library and are shelved in the Librarian's Office. The books are catalogued on iDiscover but for a snapshot of material available see the excel spreadsheet below.

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