Legal History


Conquest of England by William, duke of Normandy


Stephen's troubled reign

1135 - 1154

Reign of Henry II

1154 - 1189

Foundation of common law has commonly been traced back to him. Succeeded in restoring the firm government of Henry I's days.

Henry II introduces 'grand assize' - a form of jury


as an alternative to battle

Glanvill - Justiciar of England

1180 - 1189

Treatise on the laws and customs of England is traditionally but questionably attributed to him.

King John's reign

1199 - 1216

Brief suspension of the Bench

1209 - 1214

Two distinct series of pela rolls emerged


Coram rege
De banco

Royal courts discouraged minor litigation and excluded claims under forty shillings - this principle was confirmed for trespass by statute


Statute of Mortmain, De Viris Religiosis


The case of de la River v. Spigurnel


descender writ did not extend beyond the second heir

1285 - 1309

(i.e. the donee cannot alienate and nor can his son1) – though in this period the most common descender plaintiff is the first heir

de donis conditionalibus, intended at least in part to reverse the decision in de la River


Nisi Prius system was placed on regular footing by legislation


The Statute Quia emptores terrarum


descender now available to third heir

1310 - 1329

(i.e. the donee cannot alientate, and nor can his
son or grandson) (extension of descender beyond first heir still challengeable –
Belyng’s Case (1312) – but challenge fails)

Stonor J - the original writ is the basis of law


descender writ available to any generation of donee’s issue,

1330 - 1420

but restraint on alienation does not extend beyond the fourth degree, the third heir (i.e. the donee cannot alienate, and nor can his son, grandson, or great-grandson)

It became normal for a Common Pleas caseto be tried at nisi prius and vice versa


statutory restraint on alienation becomes perpetual


Middlesex Bill


‘After 1452 at latest it is highly probable that many of the bills of Middlesex were fictitious’ (Blatcher, Court of King’s Bench)

England had neither a national judicature or legislature in the developed sense


Trespass was a collective name


two species:
- trespass vi et armis
- trespass super casum

Holt Cj - wherever there was a right a remedy must be found


Most of the forms of action, as distinc procedures, were abolshed

1832 - 1833

Nationwide system of County Courts was established


The form of the original writ was changed


principally by adaption of the chancery subpoena

Abolition of King's Bench and Common Pleas


Superior English Courts move to Strand