Napoleon’s Death and Walter Scott’s birth

Today is the two hundredth anniversary of the death of Napoleon Bonaparte on St Helena. It was a remarkable life. His actions had a major impact on the future of Europe. The University of Edinburgh possesses his dining table from St Helena, bought and brought back, and then gifted to the University by an alumnus.  It is a rather typical British Georgian snap-top table in mahogany.

Napoleon’s remains were brought back to Paris in 1840 and reburied in the Hôtel des Invalides in a tomb that your blogger thinks rather excessive; but perhaps it suits the character of the man. Around the tomb are some huge marble representations of aspects of his achievements, including the Code civil

One of the strange oddities of history is that Napoleon shares his birthday with his biographer Sir Walter Scott, though the novelist was born in 1771 and Napoleon in 1769. So this year, as well as being the anniversary of Napoleon’s death is also the two-hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Scott’s birth. The University of Edinburgh also owns a table connected with Scott, in this case his library table from his house in Castle Street.

In Scott’s biography, as your blogger has pointed out in an earlier blog, he criticised the Code civil, as unhistorical:

For a discussion of some of this, see the lecture given by your blogger to the Edinburgh Sir Walter Scott Club on 17 October, 2019

Judah Benjamin, 1811-1884, new book.

All historians of the law of Louisiana know of Judah Benjamin; all historians of the law of sale in England also know of Judah Benjamin. I shall not discuss the basics of his life. There is an adequate Wikipedia entry that I lack the knowledge to praise or condemn, with its  speculations on his family life. He had a distinguished career as a lawyer and politician, and when the Civil War came, he became Attorney General and then Secretary of War and then Secretary of State for the Confederacy. After escaping at the end of the War, he eventually reached England, where he was admitted to the bar. There is no need to go further into his remarkable life. 

This month Edinburgh University Press is to publish by William C. Gilmore, The Confederate Jurist: The Legal Life of Judah P. Benjamin (ISBN 9781474482004). It focuses on his career as Jewish lawyer, U.S. Senator, Confederate statesman, political exile, leader of the English bar, and distinguished jurist.

According to EUP, this is the first biography written from a legal perspective on the public life of Judah P. Benjamin (1811–1884), a prominent figure in the common law world in the second half of the 19th century. Drawing on a range of primary source materials including newspaper articles, case law and extensive archival research in the UK and USA, it charts his rise as a lawyer first in the mixed legal system of Louisiana and then nationally. In 1853 he was the first person of Jewish heritage to be offered nomination to the US Supreme Court – an honour he declined. Benjamin was also a member of the US Senate, a slave owner and a supporter of Southern secession. In the Civil War he served continuously in the Confederate Cabinet initially as Attorney General, then as Secretary of War and finally as Secretary of State. Following the victory of the Union he fled America, a fugitive. In political exile in England he requalified as a Barrister at Lincoln’s Inn. Within a decade he had written a scholarly and long-enduring treatise on commercial law and become the undisputed advocate of choice in appeals before the House of Lords and the Privy Council. This book considers the extraordinary career of this distinguished jurist and reflects upon his legal legacy. There is a forward by Stephen C. Neff, Professor of War and Peace at the University of Edinburgh and author of Justice in Blue and Gray: A Legal History of the Civil War (Harvard University Press, 2010).

William C. (Bill) Gilmore is Professor of International Criminal Law Emeritus at the university of Edinburgh

A Virtual Conversation about the Lost Translators of 1808 and the Birth of Civil Law in Louisiana

On 27 April, at 5.30 p.m. CST (Us and Canada) the Tulane Law School and the Center for International and Comparative Law invite you to a virtual conversation about the Lost Translators of 1808 and the Birth of Civil Law in Louisiana in celebration of the release of Vernon Palmer’s new book and his 50 years of teaching at Tulane Law School.

Featuring presentations by:

Vernon Palmer
Thomas Pickles Chair, Co-Director, Eason Weinmann Center for Comparative Law
Tulane Law School, Tulane University

John W. Cairns
Professor of Civil Law
Edinburgh Law School, University of Edinburgh

Olivier Moreteau
Professor of Law, Russell B. Long Eminent Scholars Chair, Assistant Dean & Director of the Center of Civil Law
Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Louisiana State University

Agustin Parise
Associate Professor
Faculty of Law, Maastricht University

Introductions by:
David D. Meyer
Mitchell Franklin Professor of Law and Dean of the Law School
Tulane Law School, Tulane University

And Q&A moderated by:
Sally Brown Richardson
A.D. Freeman Professor of Civil Law and Vice Dean for Academic Affairs
Tulane Law School, Tulane University
To register follow this link:

Translators of the Louisiana Code (Digest of Orleans) of 1808

In very recent years there has been a renewed interest in the legal history of Louisiana in the Territorial Period and the early years of statehood. There has been a complete rethinking of the sources of the first Louisiana Civil Code, the Digest of the Civil Laws of the Territory of Orleans, with renewed reflection on some related documents, such as the de la Vergne volume, and other source material.

One important product of this developing research is the new book by Professor Vernon Palmer of the Tulane Law School, The Lost Translators of 1808 and the Birth of Civil Law in Louisiana, published by the University of Georgia Press in its Southern Legal History Series, ISBN 9780820358338.

There is not the scope here for a full review of this important and enlightening work. Professor Palmer explores the lives of the translators, which illuminates much of the tensions and culture of the early territorial period, before reflecting on their work in a fascinating account of what they did.

All interested in translation, codification, and early Louisiana should read this handsomely produced monograph.

Early Career Fellowship in Legal History

Job Description

UE07 [£33,797 – £40,322]

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Science/School of Law

Fixed Term, 35 hours a week

1 August 2021 – 31 July 2024


We are looking for a specialist in Legal History committed to taking a leading role in teaching and researching in that field.  We would particularly welcome applications from early career colleagues who have interests in the areas of European Legal History and Roman Law.  This is a 3 year fixed term opportunity which may be extended subject to external funding.


The Opportunity:

To join an established team of academics working in the field of Legal History.  The post will enable you to establish a strong teaching profile and research profile and, in so doing, to build on your existing academic track record and develop professional contacts across the University of Edinburgh and beyond.


Your skills and attributes for success:

·       A strong academic profile in Legal History including a completed, or near completed, PhD

·       Ability to design and deliver course materials and to assess student performance.

·       Ability to supervise postgraduate research students.

·       Ability to work constructively as part of a collegial team within the subject area.

·       Excellent communication skills and an ability to engage students both on-campus and in online settings


Click here for a copy of the full job description


In addition to their main application candidates are requested to upload a brief outline of their current research and future research plan (1000 words max.) Alongside your research plan, please also upload one publication or sample of work.


As a valued member of our team you can expect:

An exciting, positive, creative, challenging and rewarding place to work. We give you support, nurture your talent and reward success. You will benefit from a competitive reward package and a wide range of staff benefits, which includes a generous holiday entitlement, a defined benefits pension scheme, staff discounts, family friendly initiatives, flexible working and much more. Access our staff benefits page for further information and use our reward calculator to find out the total value of pay and benefits provided.

The University of Edinburgh holds a Silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our commitment to advance gender equality in higher education. We are members of the Race Equality Charter and we are also Stonewall Scotland Diversity Champions, actively promoting LGBT equality.

If invited for interview you will be required to evidence your right to work in the UK.  Further information is available on our right to work webpages.

The University may be able to sponsor the employment of international workers in this role.  This will depend on a number of factors specific to the successful applicant.

About Us

As a world-leading research-intensive University, we are here to address tomorrow’s greatest challenges. Between now and 2030 we will do that with a values-led approach to teaching, research and innovation, and through the strength of our relationships, both locally and globally.

About the Team

Edinburgh Law School ( is situated in the historic Old College, at the heart of Edinburgh’s legal centre. For over three hundred years the School has been providing world-leading education and research in the eclectic discipline of law. As one of the eleven constituent Schools of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Science, the School encourages multi- and interdisciplinary connections throughout its teaching and research.
The School values diversity across all staff and students, and supports flexible and family-friendly working. The School provides active support and professional development (including mentoring, training, and networking opportunities) for all staff.
The School is fully committed to promoting equality and diversity, and to welcoming and including all who choose to study, work, or visit us.
With over 1400 students and 150 members of academic, research and professional services staff, Edinburgh Law School is an international, vibrant community dedicated to providing research and teaching with local and global reach and impact.

Selden Society, Milsom Studentship in English Legal History, 2021

 Selden Society: Milsom Studentship in English Legal History 2021 

The Society invites applications for a Milsom Studentship beginning in September/October 2021. 

The Selden Society regularly funds a Milsom Studentship for a person undertaking research in English legal history leading to the degree of PhD (or equivalent) at a university in the United Kingdom. The Studentship is named in honour of the late Professor S.F.C. Milsom, sometime Literary Director and President of the Society. 

The studentship is tenable for a maximum of three years, subject to an annual review of progress. The annual value of the studentship is a sum equivalent to the current total of the home fees and recommended minimum maintenance allowance at the university at which the student is registered for the PhD degree, to a total maximum of £22,500. Preference may be given to applicants who do not have funding from another source. 

Applicants are asked to submit their research proposal and CV, and indicate the university and department where they will pursue their degree. Applicants should also arrange for two academic references to be submitted. 

Application forms may be downloaded from the Grants and Prizes page on the Selden Society website, or obtained from the Secretary of the Society, School of Law, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS, The deadline for receipt of applications and references is 23 April 2021. 

British Legal History Conference, 2022, Belfast: Call for Papers

The 25th British Legal History Conference 2022
In association with the Irish Legal History Society

Queen’s University, Belfast
6-9 July 2022


Abstracts are invited for the 25th BRITISH LEGAL HISTORY CONFERENCE which is being run jointly with the Irish Legal History Society and hosted by Queen’s University Belfast, on Wednesday 6 July – Saturday 9 July 2022.

The conference was originally scheduled for 2021. Queen’s, Belfast, was given the honour of hosting the BLHC in 2021, because it is a significant year in the “Decade of Centenaries” in Ireland, north and south, marking both the centenary of the opening in June 1921 of the Parliament of Northern Ireland, established under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, and the centenary of the signing of articles of agreement for the Anglo-Irish Treaty in December 1921, leading to the establishment of the Irish Free State. The conference theme, “Law and Constitutional Change”, was chosen against this background. The Covid-19 pandemic intervened, making postponement unavoidable.

Organising the conference in 2022 will, however, allow us to celebrate the half-centenary of the British Legal History Conference, first held in Aberystwyth in 1972. Our hope is that attendance at the conference can be in person, but this will be kept under review and, if necessary, the option of online attendance/participation will be considered.

Conference papers can examine from any historical perspective the relationship between law and constitutional change. The difficulty of defining constitutional change was noted by the Select Committee on the Constitution in their report, The Process of Constitutional Change (HL Paper 177, 2011, para. 10), but they identified several examples, without being exhaustive: parliamentary sovereignty; the rule of law and the rights and liberties of the individual; the union state; representative government; and state membership of international organisations, such as (then) the EU and the Commonwealth. These are, of course, only examples and the conference theme will be interpreted in all its breadth.

In the context of present-day analysis of the political and constitutional upheavals in British-Irish relations in the early 1920s, the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, has adopted the Irish word, Machnamh, meaning reflection, contemplation, meditation and thought, for a series of online reflections – In the spirit of Machnamh, we invite you to join the conversation on law and constitutional change in Queen’s, Belfast, in July 2022.


Please note the following rules:
– If you submitted an abstract in 2020, you must make a fresh submission.
– Abstracts must be for individual papers only, not for panels. Co-authored papers are acceptable.
– Only one abstract should be submitted per person.
– Abstracts must be submitted as Microsoft Word documents using the online portal on the Call for Papers page of the conference website. Please do not submit by email.
– Abstracts must not exceed 500 words.
– Please indicate if your proposal is contingent on the availability of an option of online participation.
– The deadline for submission of abstracts is Monday 30 August 2021.
– Queries can be emailed to
– At the conference, individual oral presentations will last 15-20 minutes.

We hope to publish the programme on the conference website in October 2021. Details of plenary speakers will also appear there in due course.

Proposals from postgraduate and early career researchers are welcome.

Further information about travel to Belfast, accommodation, and so on, will be added to the conference website during 2021-2022:

Poster competition

This, the second joint BLHC – ILHS conference, was proposed by Sir Anthony Hart, retired High Court judge, former president of ILHS and enthusiastic supporter of BLHCs, who died suddenly in July 2019. A poster competition is planned during the 2022 conference as a tribute to Tony. There will be two prizes, including one for the PGR/early career category. The prizes are generously funded by the Journal of Legal History and by the Irish Legal History Society. Details of the competition will be posted on the conference website.

Gender and Justice In Scotland: Historical and Legal Perspectives

Gender and justice in Scotland: historical and legal perspectives ‘Gender and Justice in Scotland: Historical and Legal Perspectives’ is a collaborative symposium between the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Gender History and the School of Law. The historical struggle for gender equality has transformed women’s access to justice in Scotland today. Over the last two centuries, Scottish feminists and their supporters campaigned for women’s right to vote, to own property, to seek marital separation, to obtain custody of their children and to have bodily autonomy. Understanding women’s access to justice in the Scottish past can help legal practitioners and the courts make better-informed decisions when encountering similar problems today. The ways in which we make sense of women’s social agency needs to acknowledge the intersectional nature of ongoing discrimination throughout history. Even today, the struggle for gender equality is far from complete, and a glaring disparity between the achieved equality of women and their lived realities still remains. This is a call for papers which aims to explore issues affecting women’s access to justice in Scotland across time and space, and we welcome research on all Scottish courts, regions, jurisdictions, ethnicities, sexual and gendered identities, languages and religious and confessional identities. We also welcome papers that approach Scotland through a comparative or international perspective. Post-graduate students are particularly encouraged to apply. We welcome abstracts from a variety of disciplines, including (but not limited to): history, law, criminology and social science. We invite papers that address the following or related themes in a historical or legal perspective: • inheritance, succession and family law • cohabitants’ rights on separation and death • civil partnership, marriage, and divorce • civil remedies for domestic abuse and gender-based violence • reproductive health rights • parental rights and responsibilities, children and adoption The symposium will be held online on 6 and 7 May 2021. Please send a 300-word abstract with a short biography to the organiser with ‘Gender and Justice’ in the subject line by 19 March 2021. Organiser: Dr Rebecca Mason, ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Law Email: Co-organisers: Dr Maud Bracke and Dr Jackie Clarke (Centre for Gender History); Professor Jane Mair (School of Law)

Post-Doc: History of Slavery in the City of London

Postdoctoral Researcher: History of Slavery in the City of London, Nuffield College, University of Oxford

Nuffield College seeks a Postdoctoral Researcher to research the role of the City of London and its commercial institutions in the eco-system of the transatlantic slave trade and ownership. Co-funded by the global law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, and under the supervision of Professor Andrew Thompson (Professor of Imperial and Global History, Nuffield College), the researcher will contribute to the growing body of scholarly literature on British imperialism and its intersection with transatlantic slavery, exploring the past and bringing it into close dialogue with the present.

It is worth pointing out the huge possibilities this presents for a postdoctoral researcher. Work by, for example Nick Draper, just to name one, indicates the rich story to be explored.

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