The Early Modern Land Law
I have attempted to reduce the number of works to bare
essentials with the emphasis on more recent work which
encapsulates earlier work. I do not include work specifically
about courts/jurisdictions or personnel of the legal
profession (e.g. Brooks, Prest, Ives), but I can give you
pointers if you are interested. I also concentrate exclu-
sively on the early modern period (e.g. excluding Man-
chester's textbook on legal developments after 1750 or the
seminal tome by Megarry and Wade).
- A.W.B. Simpson, A History of the Land Law (2nd edn, Oxford, 1986).
- J.H. Baker, An Introduction to English Legal History (3rd
edn, London, 1990).
- S.F.C. Milsom, Historical Foundations of the Common Law (2nd
edn, London, 1981).
Uses and trusts, which are in a sense the antecedents of
strict settlement, have a long history before 1580. The
collusive actions involved in strict settlement (as well as
the notion of entails) also had their origins in the
medieval period, but I will spare you the literature.
- E.W. Ives, 'The genesis of the statute of uses', English
Historical Review 82 (1967), 673-97, although this argument
is not universally accepted.
Strict settlement: the family
- L. Bonfield, Marriage Settlements 1601-1740: the Adoption of
Strict Settlement (Cambridge, CUP, 1983).
- Amy L. Erickson, 'Common law versus common practice: the use
of marriage settlements in early modern England', Economic
History Review, 2nd ser. 43 (1990), 21-39.
[Note also her Women and Property in Early Modern England
(London, 1993; pb edn 1995).
- B. English and J. Saville, Strict Settlement: a Guide for
Historians (Hull, 1983).
- E. Spring, Land, Law and Family. Aristocratic Inheritance
in England, 1300-1800 (1993). This is the most recent work,
written by a historian who attempts to simplify the legal
notions and concentrate on what they meant for the notion of
the family .
- J. Habbakuk, Marriage, Debt and the Estates System. English
Landownership 1650-1950 (Oxford, 1994; the Ford Lectures for 1984).
This is the result of about 40 years of research by Sir John
into the meaning of settlements. It is an enormous book,
but you might read the first chapter. Sir John originally
proposed (some 40 years ago) that 'Tawney's Century' (1540-
1640) of the rise of the gentry was succeeded by the
reintegration of aristocratic (the great) estates from
c.1680. In the light of intevening research (e.g. Bon-
field), his stance has modified a little. This is the magnum
opus on the subject from an historian's point of view.
- Susan Staves, Married Women's Property 1600-1833 (Camb.,
- Erickson ut supra.
- J.H. Baker and S.F.C. Milsom, Sources of English Legal History.
Private Law to 1750 (1986).
- C.M. Gray, Copyhold, Equity and the Common Law (Camb.,
- C. Clay, 'The price of freehold land in the late seventeenth
and eighteenth centuries', Economic History Review, 2nd ser.
- E. Kerridge, 'The movement of rent, 1540-1640' repr. in E.M.
Carus-Wilson, ed., Essays in Economic History 2 (1962), 208-
Equity of redemption in mortgages is treated in the general