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The composition and distribution of the legal profession, and the use of law in early modern Britain and Ireland, c.1500-c.1850

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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At various dates between the early sixteenth century and the early nineteenth century the ratio of lawyers per head of population in England and Wales was more than twice that obtaining in Scotland and Ireland. By comparing carefully and systematically the different size and composition of the legal profession in the component parts of the British Isles, the article shows how significantly different was the nature and significance of law, and the distinctive trajectories of legal change. The second half of the article offers a range of possible explanations for why the numbers and types of lawyers or ‘men of law’ varied so much, suggesting that national legal cultures were enduringly and profoundly different. The peoples of Ireland and Scotland related to law in ways quite distinct from the close relationship of English society to its lawyers and law.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-156
JournalTijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • Law, Legal history, Legal cultures, Britain, Ireland, Scotland, Lawyers

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