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“He creditted more the printed booke”: common lawyers’ receptivity to print, c.1550 – 1640

Williams, I; (2010) “He creditted more the printed booke”: common lawyers’ receptivity to print, c.1550 – 1640. Law and History Review , 28 (1) 39 - 70. 10.1017/S0738248009990034.

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Abstract

This article analyzes common lawyers’ attitudes towards the use of printed material in legal argument during the period in which the printing of common law books was subject to a monopoly patent before the English Civil War. An emerging preference for printed material in legal argument is shown. Manuscript material was never excluded from legal argument, although some attempts were made to do so, especially by lawyers working for the Crown. Such attempts were motivated by tactical concerns in individual disputes and show that in this period legal printing could be used by lawyers as a device for legal conservatism, seeking to prevent change in legal doctrine. Techniques were developed to assess the "credit" of texts and were generally applied to both print and manuscript. However, these techniques had the effect of elevating the role of printed sources. Normative justifications were given for a privileged role for print, albeit unsuccessfully.

Type:Article
Title:“He creditted more the printed booke”: common lawyers’ receptivity to print, c.1550 – 1640
DOI:10.1017/S0738248009990034
Publisher version:http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayIssue?jid=LHR&volumeId=28&issueId=01&iid=7254780
Language:English
Keywords:Legal history, print culture, writ of prohibition
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Laws

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