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Conversations with Emeritus Professor Stroud Francis Charles (Toby) Milsom: A Journey from Heretic to Giant in English Legal History

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 December 2012


Lesley Dingle, founder of the Eminent Scholars Archive at Cambridge, gives a further contribution in this occasional series concerning the lives of notable legal academics. On this occasion, the focus of her attention is Stroud Francis Charles (Toby) Milsom QC BA who retired from his chair of Professor of Law at the University of Cambridge in 2000 after a distinguished career as a legal historian at the universities of Oxford, London School of Economics and St John's College Cambridge. His academic life and contentious theories on the development of the Common Law at the end of the feudal system in England were discussed in a series of interviews at his home in 2009. At the core are aspects of his criticism of the conclusions of the nineteenth century historian Frederick William Maitland, upon which the teaching of the early legal history of England was largely based during much of the 20th century. Also included are insights into his research methods in deciphering the parchment Plea Rolls in the Public Records Office, and anecdotes relating to his tenure as Dean at New College Oxford (1956–64) as well as associations with the Selden Society: he was its Literary Director, and later President during its centenary in 1987. Professor Milsom also briefly talked of his memories of childhood during WWII and his inspirational studies as a student at the University of Pennsylvania (1947–48).

Occasional Series
Copyright © The Author(s) 2012. Published by British and Irish Association of Law Librarians

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Bibliography of Professor Milsom's books

Shanks, E. & Milsom, S. F. C.Novae Narrationes (Introduction, translation and notes), Selden Society, volume 80 (1963).Google Scholar
Pollock, F. & Maitland, F. W.The History of English Law before the Time of Edward I. Reprint of 2nd edition, with a Select Bibliography and Notes by Professor S.F.C. Milsom. CUP (1968).Google Scholar
Milsom, S. F. C.Historical Foundations of the Common Law, Butterworths (1969, 2nd Edition 1981), 475pp.Google Scholar
Milsom, S. F. C.Legal Framework of English Feudalism, CUP (1976), 201pp.Google Scholar
Milsom, S. F. C.Studies in the History of the Common Law, Hambleton Press (1985), 348pp.Google Scholar
Baker, J. H. & Milsom, S. F. C.Sources of English Legal History. Private Law to 1750. Butterworths (1986), 655pp.Google Scholar
Milsom, S. F. C.A Natural History of the Common Law, Columbia University Press (2003), 175pp.CrossRefGoogle Scholar