John Hudson – Research Update (ii)

My work during the current year has concentrated on three main areas:

(i) I have written an article on the notion of seisin in Glanvill and the early Curia regis rolls, complementing these sources with examination of Bracton and the earliest Norman custumal. The article explores how the term came to be used in more technical and specific ways, concentrating on three particular developments: (i) the use of adjectives to describe types of seisin, for example ‘simple’ and ‘full’; (ii) the distinguishing between seisin of fee, of a free tenement, and of other forms of holding; (iii) the possible distinction between being seised and being in seisin. It aimed to discover whether usage simply became more technical, or whether more general usage continued alongside the increasingly technical.

(ii) I also delivered the Fulton Lecture in Legal History at the University of Chicago, on the topic of ‘F. W. Maitland, Common Law, and Civil Law’. The aim was exposition rather than judgement, to explore and explain rather than to criticise and correct, thereby making some contribution to the intellectual and jurisprudential history of the late nineteenth century, if not to the legal history of the twelfth and thirteenth. The lecture compares Maitland’s views first with those of writers up to the end of the eighteenth century, and then with those nineteenth-century authors with whom he engaged. It ends by considering what these comparisons reveal as peculiar to Maitland’s own work. A video of the lecture is available at

(iii) I am continuing work on an online edition of the Balliol manuscript of Glanvill, and is nearing completion on a draft that can be posted the project website.