On 6 September 2021, Lord Matthews sentenced Nathan Shaw and John Lawrie to imprisonment. The report of his sentencing statement reveals that the two had earlier pled guilty to the crime of Hamesucken. The facts reveal that the accused did indeed pursue someone into his house in order to assault him, classic hamesucken. The report of the sentencing statement https://www.judiciary.scot/home/sentences-judgments/sentences-and-opinions/2021/09/06/hma-v-nathan-shaw-and-john-lawrie suggests that the indictment had used “hamesucken” as a nomen juris rather setting out an assault that was aggravated as to place. Hamesucken was a capital crime until 1887. The requirement of a nomen juris in an indictment was also abolished in 1887. The term has lingered on, however, often in references by judges to the formerly capital nature of offences committed by accused before them. The brief report of this on the twitter account of Judges Scotland elicited some comments of astonishment at the term. Indeed none of the newspaper reports that your blogger has found use the term, talking instead of the accused “pouncing” or “ambushing”.

The word was well known in Scots law in the past, and is an interesting example of the survival in Scots law of an Anglo-Saxon term and legal concept. It is interesting to note that the modern Danish “hjemsøge” and German “heimsuchen”, as well as their literal meaning, have the connotations of “hounding”, plaguing”, “persecuting” and “pestering” (I owe this insight to Professor Knud Haakonssen). The etymology can be further explored by reading Colman “Hamsocn: Its meaning and significance in early English law” (1981) 25 American Journal of Legal History, 95. Your blogger has always found hamesucken of interest and has discussed it in the past. That the term is found in Danish reminds your blogger of the fact that any Scot listening to popular “Scandi-noir” programmes on T.V. realises that Scots shares quite a number of words with the Nordic languages.

Thai Legal HIstory

The Centre for Legal History at Edinburgh is delighted to note the publication by Cambridge University Press of Thai Legal History: From Traditional to Modern Law, edited by Andrew Harding and Munin Pongsapan. The latter wrote the thesis for his Edinburgh Ph.D. on “The Reception of Foreign Private Law in Thailand: A Case Study of Specific Performance”, and is currently serving as Dean of the Law School of Thammasat University. Andrew Harding is a noted comparative scholar and expert in Asian legal studies based ate National University of Singapore. This work will open to a wider world the rich content and the fascination of the legal history of Thailand. See https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/thai-legal-history/9921886F17F6CBE2E0B37FAB9B8F754E 



Chair in Legal History Tilburg

The field of legal history is currently represented at Tilburg Law School within the Department of Global Law and Governance by a team of 5 tenured/tenure track faculty (1 part-time professor, 1 associate professor, 3 assistant professors), plus a varying number of junior lecturers and PhD fellows. (See [here]). The group provides several mandatory courses at the bachelor level in the LLB Dutch Law (Europese Rechtsgeschiedenis, The World’s Legal Systems) and the LLB Global Law (History of International Law; Global Legal History). It also offers legal history courses in at the master level and general history courses in the University’s bachelor in Liberal Arts and Sciences. It presently has two main research focuses: history of international law and, more recently, history of economic law. Both are included in the department’s research program Global Law and Governance.

The new chair in legal history is expected to develop an own research line and provide intellectual inspiration and leadership to the legal historians at Tilburg. The acquisition of external research funding is part of the portfolio of tasks. She/he will take a prominent and visible role in teaching, both in the mandatory courses at the bachelor level and in optional courses at the master level. Teaching may both be in English as in Dutch. She/he will also be available for managerial tasks within the department and the law school.

British Legal History Conference, Belfast, 2022: Extension of time for submission of proposals to 27 September, 2021

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 – https://president.ie/en/diary/details/president-hosts-machnamh-100-event 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 27 September 2021.
– Queries can be emailed to BLHC-2022-info@qub.ac.uk
– 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: https://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/BLH-Conference-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.

Legal Biographies Project – SLS/LSE

The Legal History Section of the Society of Legal Scholars and LSE’s Legal Biography Project are holding a joint online workshop on Legal Biographies on the afternoons of 9 and 10 September 2021.


The programme is as follows


9th September 15.00-18.00 BST: Lives in Context


15.05-15.55 BST: Morad El Kadmiri (UCL Faculty of Laws)

Wigmore and the Land of the Rising Sun: Revisiting Orientalism Through the Experience of a Late 19th Century Legal Westerniser


16.00-16.50 BST: Neil Harrison (Northumbria University)

Sir Joseph Cowen as Commissioner and Chairman of the Tyne Improvement Commission from 1850 to 1873: the Influence of his Networks on his Interpretation of the Law and his Actions


17.00-17.50 BST: Helen Rutherford (Northumbria University)

The People’s Judge: Examining the Life and Work of the Coroner for Newcastle upon Tyne 1857-1885



10th September 15.00-18.00 BST: Uses, Abuses and Methods in Legal Biographical Writing


15.05-15.55 BST: Sean Morris (University of Helsinki)

Walter George Frank Phillimore (1845 – 1929): The Early Years and Devotion to Church-Law Relations


16.00-16.50 BST: Charlotte Smith (University of Reading)

Legal Biography and Religion: Some Reflections


17.00-17.50 BST: John Tribe (University of Liverpool)

Pride & Posterity: A Reappraisal of the Earl of Birkenhead’s role in the passage of the Law of Property Act 1925


For further information, contact Victoria Barnes (barnes@lhlt.mpg.de)


You can register for this event via Eventbrite on https://www.eventbrite.com/e/legal-biography-workshop-tickets-162918711251.

Real History and Fake History

The British press has recently reported two events of interest. One is the result of a fascinating archaeological dig, the other the product of a fantasy and indeed fake history.

Your blogger shall look at the fake history first. On Tuesday 17 August, about twenty individuals entered Edinburgh Castle, a major tourist attraction, without paying, and refused to leave. They claimed to be retaking it for the people under article 61 of Magna Carta. Magna Carta has, of course, and never has had, any authority in Scotland. At the time it was signed, Scotland and England were separate kingdoms, and as component parts of the Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, they retain separate laws and legal systems. Indeed, in any case, article 61 was also quickly removed from Magna Carta, and it most certainly did not entitle “the people” to take back power from the Crown. One could go on; but your blogger gathers from the press that anti-Lockdown protesters have regularly cited article 61 as entitling them to ignore restrictions: see https://fullfact.org/online/did-she-die-in-vain/

A variety of other claims about the government and the rule of law were made by the protestors; with these I shall not trouble readers of this Blog. Examination of the websites of a number of newspapers, such as The Times, The Guardian, and The Independent, should give curious readers the gist. Had a policeman not suffered a (fortunately) minor injury, it might have just been an amusing curiosity.

That the Magna Carta never applied in Scotland immediately leads to dismissal of these claims; but interpretation of historical documents by those who do not really understand them can lead to troubling results. Your blogger can here think of some of the discussions of the historical document now known as the Declaration of Arbroath, in reality a letter from the Scottish barons to the then Pope.

Turning to actual history, the British press has recently publicised the discovery of well-preserved human remains in a necropolis by Pompeii. The individual, a man of around 60, almost certainly Marcus Venerio Secundio, a freed slave, who rose to become guardian of the Temple of Venus and member of a college of priests. The remains are unusual as Romans were commonly created in this era, and the tomb also contains, in a glass urn, the ashes of Novia Amabilis, who may well have been his wife. What is also interesting is that an inscription records that Venerio Secundo organised spectacles in Greek and Latin for four days. Of course, educated Romans were bilingual in Greek and Latin, but this gives an indication of the persistence of a more popular knowledge of the language.

The domination of a stereotype of slavery based on chattel slavery in the Americas always makes of great interest such indications of freedom and success in the Roman world.

Archives parlementaires: Revolutionary Era

All working on French legal history will be aware of the great progress made in rendering secondary and primary material accessible on-line through the portals Persée, Gallica, and Cairn.Info. The parliamentary sessions of the Revolutionary Era are now being made accessible through Persée. See https://archives-parlementaires.persee.fr 

See http://esclh.blogspot.com/2021/06/database-archives-parlementaires-persee.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+EuropeanSocietyForComparativeLegalHistory+%28EUROPEAN+SOCIETY+FOR+COMPARATIVE+LEGAL+HISTORY%29

Junior Research Fellow: Centre for Reparation Research, University of the West Indies


The Centre for Reparation Research, University of the West Indies 

Applications are invited from suitably qualified persons for the position of Junior Research Fellow, The Centre for Reparation Research, The University of the West Indies, Vice-Chancellery. 

The Centre for Reparation Research at The University of the West Indies is seeking to hire a Junior Research Fellow for the period August 1, 2021 to July 31, 2023. The ideal candidate will have: 

 A Master’s Degree in History (or a related field) 

 Excellent research, analytical and proposal writing skills 

 An aptitude for research dissemination and advocacy on electronic, print and social media 

 A knowledge of critical issues in human rights & the global movement for reparatory justice 

 Excellent inter-personal skills 

 Excellent time management skills 

 Proficiency in the English Language (A working knowledge of French and/or Spanish would be an asset). 

The successful candidate will have a good work ethic, excellent interviewing skills and the ability to work on his/her own. She/he is to be a firm believer in reparation and will have to maintain confidentiality. 

The Junior Research Fellow must have a solid working knowledge of MS Word, Outlook, and Excel and database management, as he/she will collect and analyze data or to manage and update existing datasets. He/she will also conduct literature reviews or field research. 

Interested persons are being asked to send detailed applications giving i) full particulars of qualifications and experience, biodata; and ii) the names, titles, mailing and e-mail addresses, fax and telephone numbers of three (3) referees as soon as possible to: 


For further information about the Centre for Reparation Research, email reparation.research@uwimona.edu.jm. The deadline for application is June 25, 2021. Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted. 

Legal History Post K.U. Leuven


(ref. BZP-2021-12)

Last modification : Monday, June 7, 2021

The Faculty of Law of KU Leuven, invites scholars to apply for a full‐time research professorship in the Research Unit for Roman Law and Legal History. This position is funded by the Special Research Fund (BOFZAP), established by the Flemish Government. We are looking for motivated and internationally oriented candidates with an excellent research record and with educational competence in the field of modern legal history. The appointment is expected to start on October 1, 2022. Applications will be evaluated in parallel and independently by 1) the KU Leuven Research Council in a competitive process across academic domains and 2) the faculty advisory committee. During the first 10 years, the teaching obligations as a research professor will be limited. Afterwards, the position will be transformed into a regular professorship. This vacancy concerns modern legal history, since 1750. Preferably, the candidate should be adept in the comparative study of historical law, have a view on the Europeanisation and globalization of legal scholarship and see legal history as an integral part of legal thought. This position is imbedded in the Research Unit for Roman Law and Legal History. The unit consist of 3 professors and about 10 junior researchers. Its research focuses on European and international legal history since the 16th century, and in particular on three themes: the intellectual history of the jus commune, the history of economic law and the history of international law
It is part of the assignment of the appointed candidate to develop, within the domain of modern legal history, an international, competitive research programme, to pursue excellent scientific results at an international level and to support and promote national and international research partnerships. The candidate must meet a strong research profile or have the potential to do so. In addition, the candidate is expected to have a multidisciplinary attitude and a willingness to cooperate intensively with other researchers and research units at KU Leuven.
The candidate:
  • Is an excellent, internationally oriented researcher and develops a research programme at the forefront in the field of modern legal history since 1750 in an European, global and/or comparative perspective.
  • Strengthens existing research lines and brings complementary and/or additionally new expertise by working closely with the members of the Research Unit for Roman Law and Legal History. 
  • Publishes at the highest scientific level in an international context.
  • Develops an own research group.
  • Supervises master students, PhD students and postdocs at a high international level. 
  • Aims to acquire competitive research funding from national and/or international agencies and submits effective research project proposals for this purpose.
  • Establishes both within KU Leuven, national and international partnerships in the context of the research programme.
  • Strives for excellence in research and provides a contribution to the international research reputation of Research Unit for Roman Law and Legal History, the Faculty of Law and KU Leuven.
Although the position regards a research professorship at the start of employment, the candidate is expected to gradually contribute to state of the art teaching. 
The candidate also contributes to the pedagogic project of the faculty/university. He/she develops teaching in accordance with KU Leuven’s vision on activating and research‐based education and makes use of the possibilities for the educational professionalization offered by the faculty and the university.
During the first five years, the teaching portfolio will extend to courses both in the history of private law and the history of public law, primarily at the bachelor level, at the campuses of Leuven and Brussels. 
Scientific, societal  and internal services (administrative and/or institutional) are also part of the assignment. 
  • A doctoral degree and at least one degree that was awarded by a faculty of law. If the candidate has recently obtained the PhD, it is important that he/she supports the research and growth potential by referring to at least one top publication or by referring to promising research projects and articles in preparation.
  • A strong research profile in the field and an indisputable research integrity.
  • The quality of research is proven by international publications in renowned journals or with reputed academic publishing houses.
  • International research experience is considered as an important advantage.
  • Demonstrable qualities related to academic education. Teaching experience is a plus. 
  • Organizational skills, a cooperative attitude and leadership skills within a university context.
  • Excellent proficiency of spoken and written English. The official administrative language used at KU Leuven is Dutch. For candidates who do not speak Dutch (or do not speak it well) at the start of employment, KU Leuven will provide language training to enable them to take part in administrative meetings. Before teaching courses in Dutch or English, candidates will be given the opportunity to learn Dutch resp. English to the required standard.
  • We offer full-time employment in an intellectually challenging environment. KU Leuven is an research-intensive, internationally oriented university that carries out both fundamental and applied scientific research. Our university is highly inter- and multidisciplinary focused and strives for international excellence. In this regard, we actively collaborate with research partners in Belgium and abroad. We provide our students with an academic education that is based on high-quality scientific research.
  • Depending on qualifications and academic experience, the candidate will be appointed to or tenured in one of the grades of the senior academic staff: assistant professor, associate professor, professor or full professor. Each of these grades implies ius promovendi. In principle, junior researchers are appointed as assistant professor on the tenure track for a period of 5 years; after this period and a positive evaluation, they are permanently appointed as an associate professor.
  • You will work in Leuven, a historic and dynamic and vibrant city located in the heart of Belgium, within twenty minutes from Brussels, the capital of the European Union, and less than two hours from Paris, London and Amsterdam. The Law Faculty KU Leuven also has campuses in Kortrijk and Brussels and also provides education in Antwerp and Hasselt.
  • KU Leuven is well set to welcome foreign professors and their family and provides practical support with regard to immigration and administration, housing, childcare, language teaching, partner career coaching, …
  • In order to facilitate scientific onboarding and accelerate research in the first phase a starting grant of 100.000 euro is offered to new professors without substantial other funding and appointed for at least 50%. 
More information on the content of the job can be obtained from the academic contact person is prof. dr. Randall Lesaffer, head of the Research Unit for Roman Law and Legal History, randall.lesaffer@kuleuven.be.
More information on the guidelines, regulations and application file is available from Ms. Kristin Vermeylen (kristin.vermeylen@kuleuven.be, tel. +32 16 32 09 07) or Ms. Christelle Maeyaert (christelle.maeyaert@kuleuven.be, tel. +32 16 31 41 94).
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.

Your blogger may add that Leuven is one of the most attractive University Towns in Northern Europe, close to Brussels and Brussels airport. It has a fine tradition in Legal History. The late Laurent Waelkens, one of the kindest men, led and developed an excellent team.

Scotland, Sweden, and the Universities of the United Provinces of the Netherlands

The significance and implications of Scots studying law abroad have long interested and intrigued your blogger. Of course, most attention has been devoted to study in the Northern Netherlands. The connections of Scotland and the Low Countries have recently been the subject of two excellent programmes by the broadcaster Billy Kay. The first one, “Will Ye gae tae Flanders”, explores the links between Scotland and Flanders, covering Flemings coming to Scotland, bringing skills and expertise, as well as Scots trading in wool, notably with Bruges, which, for a while, was the Scottish staple port. Flemish influenced the Scots language. As well as the obvious surname “Fleming”, many other Scottish names have a Flemish origin. They assimilated into all ranks of Scottish society; many Scots correspondingly settled in Bruges as merchants. This is also reflected in Scottish political links with the Duchy Of Burgundy, once Flanders became under the control of the Dukes. The second is a programme is entitled “The Scots Dutchmen”. This focuses on the move of the Scottish links to the Netherlands, to the north, to the United Provinces, for whose independence from the Spanish Habsburgs many Scots fought in the Eighty Years War, and indeed for whom many continued to fight in the Scots Brigade. Significant in this was the shared Calvinism of the Northern Netherlands and the Scots. The Scottish staple moved north eventually settling in Campvere. The northern Netherlands now became a major focus for Scottish trade and intellectual life, as many Scots traders settled there while many Scots students studied in the Universities of the United Provinces, notably Utrecht and Leiden. There Scottish students learned law, notably the Roman (or Civil) law central to Scots legal practice, theology, and medicine, all, of course, taught in the lingua franca of Latin. But students did not confine themselves to narrow disciplines, but law students might also study chemistry or mathematics, and all might takes classes in dancing, fencing, horse-riding, and other skills necessary for gentlemen, while visiting relatives serving in the Dutch army. Utrecht was popular, as Scots students could there mingle with the local Dutch gentry, who spoke French, a language much desired by these young gentlemen. The great reforming Principal of Edinburgh University, Carstares, spent years in exile in the United Provinces, and his reforms drew on his experience and knowledge of the Dutch universities. The liberal, late-Humanism of Dutch culture of this period had an important impact on the Scottish Enlightenment. These programmes, involving interviews with noted scholars on either side of the connecting North Sea, are currently available on the BBC, are recommended as a good introduction https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000tt32/episodes/player

Scottish study in the United Provinces tailed off, basically ceased, after 1750. But at its height it was noted as a phenomenon. Of course, Scots were not the only students to study there. People form many northern European countries studied in the Dutch Republic. A recent work on Swedish lawyers studying abroad raises many interesting issues in the mind of a Scottish scholar. It invites a detailed comparison, not possible here. This monograph is Learning Law and Travelling Europe: Study Journeys and the Developing Swedish Legal Profession, c. 1630-1800, published with Brill (ISBN 978-90-04-43165-2) in 2020 by Marianne Vasara-Aaltonen. She places the phenomenon of study abroad in the context of the developing Swedish state’s need for trained judges and trained administrators. One can point out among obvious differences that Scotland was not part of an absolutist state with similar bureaucratic requirements, while the legal histories of the two countries were in many ways very different. One can also note that the Swedish law students, like the Scots, rarely took degrees. Whereas many Scots who studied law in the Netherlands became advocates, this is not so clear for the Swedes. The peak of Swedish study in the United Provinces, was earlier than that of the Scots, possibly because the Thirty Years War made German universities, which attracted few Scots in this era, less appealing. This is a thought-provoking work, revealing the complexities of this phenomenon of foreign study. it is recommended.

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