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Although there has never been an established post in English Legal History at Cambridge, research and teaching in the subject has been one of the acknowledged strengths of the Law Faculty since the time of FW Maitland (Downing Professor of the Laws of England 1888-1906). The Maitland Fund, established in his memory, supports research students and scholars, and very occasionally a series of Maitland Lectures (by SE Thorne in 1959, SFC Milsom in 1972, and RH Helmholz in 1987); there is also a Maitland Room within the Squire Law Library.

In the fifty years after Maitland’s death, legal history permeated legal scholarship and teaching throughout the Faculty, as it did in other great law schools of the common-law world, and most of the professors best known for their work on other subjects were interested in, and either taught or published work on, the subject – for example, HD Hazeltine (Downing Professor 1919-42), who supervised T. F. T. Plucknett as a research student of Emmanuel College (1918-21), PH Winfield (Rouse Ball Professor of English Law 1927-43), HA Hollond (Rouse Ball Professor 1943-50), and SJ Bailey (Rouse Ball Professor 1950-68).

The tradition was continued in more recent times by GL Williams (Rouse Ball Professor 1968-78), PG Stein (Regius Professor of Civil Law 1968-93), GH Jones (Downing Professor 1975-98), WR Cornish (Professor of English Law 1990-5, Herchel Smith Professor 1995-2004) and L Bently (Herchel Smith Professor 2004- ). During the last sixty years, research and teaching revived under Messrs MJ Prichard and DEC Yale (Reader in English Legal History), with taught courses in the Law Tripos as well as the LLB (now the LLM) and a steady stream of PhD students. They were joined in the 1970s by JH Baker (Reader in English Legal History 1983-8, Professor of English Legal History 1988-98, Downing Professor 1998-2011) and Professor SFC Milsom (formerly Professor of English Legal History at the LSE), later to be joined by Dr NG Jones (now Reader in English Legal History, being the third holder of this ad hominem title) and Professor DJ Ibbetson (Regius Professor of Civil Law).

Since 1976 the Literary Director of the Selden Society has been a member of the Faculty (Milsom and Yale 1976-80, Yale and Baker 1981-91, Baker 1991-2011, Jones 2011- ), and since 1960 thirty of its volumes have been produced by editors and authors from the Faculty of Law. Three British Legal History Conferences have been held in Cambridge (1975, 1997 and 2011). There are currently more members of the Faculty and research students interested in English legal history than at any time in the past, and they are increasingly being joined by members of the Faculty of History.