Sir John Baker on Coke’s Dismissal

The Judicial Studies Board of Northern Ireland was pleased to welcome Professor Sir John Baker to deliver a lecture entitled ‘1616: The Dismissal of Lord Chief Justice Coke’ on 20 October. The subject of Sir John’s talk was particularly relevant to the perennially important themes of the independence of the judiciary and the maintenance of the rule of law.

Biographical Details: 

Professor Sir John H Baker Q.C., LL.B., Ph.D. (Lond.), M.A., LL.D. (Cantab.), Hon. LL.D. (Chicago), F.B.A.; Downing Professor Emeritus of the Laws of England Sir John was educated at King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford, and University College London (LLB, PhD). He was called to the Bar at the Inner Temple in 1966 and was elected an Honorary Bencher in 1988.

His first academic post was as an Assistant Lecturer in Law at University College London, in 1965. In 1967 he was promoted to Lecturer, and in 1971 moved to the University of Cambridge. There he was Librarian of the Squire Law Library until 1973, and became a Fellow of St Catharine’s College. His rooms were above the Sherlock Library until his retirement. In 1973 he became a Lecturer in Law at University of Cambridge. He was appointed Reader in English Legal History at the University of Cambridge in 1983. In 1988 he was appointed Professor of English Legal History.Image result for professor sir john baker

From 1998 until 2011 he was Downing Professor of the Laws of England. He was President of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge until 2007 when he was succeeded by Professor Sir Christopher Alan Bayly. He was also Literary Director of the Selden Society until 2011 (jointly with David Yale 1981-91, sole 1991-2011) when he was succeeded by Dr Neil Jones.

Appointments have included Visiting Professor, New York University School of Law since 1988, Visiting Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford in 1995, Honorary Fellow, Society for Advanced Legal Studies 1998, Corresponding Fellow American Society for Legal History 1992, and Foreign Honorary Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences 2001. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy (1984) and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (1980). He was appointed a Fellow of University College London in 1991, awarded an Honorary LLD of the University of Chicago in 1991, and received the Yorke Prize (University of Cambridge) 1975, and the Ames Prize (Harvard Law School) in 1985. He was knighted in 2003. In 2004, he was awarded the Irish Legal History Society’s Gold Medal

‘Magna Carta in Ireland’ Conference

Law and The Idea of Liberty in Ireland: From Magna Carta to the Present

What is the place of Ireland in the story of Magna Carta’s global dissemination? Four centuries before the Great Charter crossed the Atlantic, it was already implanted across the Irish Sea. A two-day conference in the Music Room of Christ Church Cathedral will explore the legal-historical background to Magna Carta in Ireland, the reception of the charter into English law in Ireland, the political and polemical uses to which the charter was put, and its twentieth and twentieth-first century invocations as a living presence in contemporary Irish law.

The conference takes place on 25 and 26 November and places can be booked via Eventbrite.

View and download the programme:

 

Further details are available here.

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The Society gratefully acknowledges the support so generously given by the sponsors of this conference and without which it could not have taken place.

  • Christ Church Cathedral Library and Archives Committee
  • The Grace Lawless Lee Fund, Trinity College Dublin
  • The Medieval History Research Centre, Trinity College Dublin
  • The Humanities Institute, University College Dublin.
  • Sir Anthony Hart
  • The Law Society of Ireland

The Society would also like to thank its publishers Four Courts Press for sponsoring the coffee break on Friday and the publishers whose leaflets are enclosed in the conference pack.

The Irish Legal History Society on 1916

As part of the ongoing 1916 commemorations, three members of the Council of the Irish Legal History Society have contributed to the latest edition Irish Independent’s Special 1916 Supplement Series.

These supplements are aimed at a broad readership and will be made available in all secondary schools.

Dr Niamh Howlin: “The Trial of Roger Casement: A Legal Travesty?”

Mr. Felix M. Larkin: “Out of Step: Dublin Newspapers’ Response to the Rising”

Mr. Robert Marshall: “Charles Blackader: Old Black’s Military Court Fired Volleys”

A drawing of Roger Casement in the dock. Felix M. Larkin at the statue of Sir John Gray in O'Connell Street, Dublin. Gray owned the Freeman's Journal from 1841 until his death in 1875, and it remained in the hands of the Gray family until 1892. Brigadier-General Blackader at his headquarters Le Sart, France]. July 2015. Photographer: H. D. Girdwood. Credit: British Library Archibald Bodkin (later the Director of Public Prosecutions) and Travers Humphreys outside Bow Street.

Annual General Meeting 2015

The 2015 Annual General Meeting of the Irish Legal  History Society took place at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland on 27 November 2015.  Reports from the Secretaries and Treasurers  were delivered, and auditors and office-holders were elected for the coming year.

Maggie Smith, the Director and Deputy Keeper of the Records welcomed members of the Society and explained the Public Record Office’s operation and collections.

The Gold Medal of the Society was awarded to the Hon Mr Justice Ronan Keane, former Chief Justice of Ireland.

Mr Robert Marshall’s term as President of the Society ended and the Hon. Sir Donnell  Deeny now takes the reins.

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PRONI tour and exhibition

Attendees at our autumn discourse and AGM in November were treated to a specially-curated exhibition and tour of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. Archivist Des McCabe selected a number of significant and fascinating documents which were of interest to legal historians, and explained the workings of the Public Record Office.

PRONI is the official archive for Northern Ireland and contains millions of documents that relate chiefly, but not exclusively, to Northern Ireland.  They date largely from c.1600 to the present day (with a few dating back as far as the early 13th century).

Located in Belfast, PRONI is a government organisation founded in 1923 (shortly after the partition of Ireland). It now operates as part of the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure within the Northern Ireland Civil Service .

British Legal History Conference, University of Reading

A number of members of the Society including the President attended the British Legal History Conference at Reading in July 2015.  The theme of the conference was Law: Challenges to Authority and the Recognition of Rights.

The Society provided some of the seed capital for the conference along with the Selde2015-07-08 ABA memorial at Runnymeden Society and the Legal History Society of Wales.  There were a significant number of delegates from the United States and Canada along with a group from Australia.

From Ireland, six members of the ILHS presented papers:-

Dr Donal Coffey, University of Surrey: A reconsideration of the Imperial Conference of 1926 and conference on the operation of dominion legislation 1929

Dr Kevin Costello, UCD: Mandamus and parish politics 1620-1800

Dr Coleman Dennehy, UCD and UCL: Assize Justice in restoration Clonmel2015-07-08c Sir John Baker on Queen of the Thames

Dr Conor Hanley, NUI Galway:

Judgement by one’s peers? 
Radical and trade unionist views of jury trial in Victorian Britain

Dr Niamh Howlin, UCD: 

Challenging authority: criminal justice responses in Ireland

Dr Andrew Lyall: Granville Sharp’s MS Cases on Slavery

The conference included a visit to the site of the sealing of Magna Carta where the event is commemorated by an imposing memorial erected by the American Bar Association. 2015-07-08 ABA memorial at Rummymede Text

This was followed by a paper entitled Magna Carta- the beginning of the Myth delivered Sir John Baker QC, Downing Professor of Laws (Emeritus) at Cambridge, aboard the Queen of the Thames as it cruised the river by the meadow at Runnymede.

Sir John is a gold medallist of the ILHS and has been a member of the Society since its inception.

It was a most enjoyable afternoon
completed with an English cream tea.

Over 70 papers were delivered in a series of sessions over the four days and great credit goes to Professor Catherine Macmillan and her team from the University of Reading for the flawless organisation of the four days.

One feature of the conference was a session at which twelve Ph.D. candidates presented papNiamh H at Readingers on Criminal Justice in Empire, Anglican Ecclesiastical law, Law Religion and Excluded Groups and Processes, Rights and Colonies.

Professor Rebecca Probert of the School of Law at Warwick delivered a fascinating address to a plenary session entitled Victorian Bigamists – Challenging authority or claiming rights?

The next conference will be held at University College London in July 2017.

The exact date of that conference remains to be fixed and a call for papers will be made in due course.

The Dark Side of Magna Carta

Amidst the celebrations of the 800th Anniversary of Magna Carta a pause for reflection is necessary. A one-day conference at the University of Newcastle will explore how Magna Carta’s legacy has been invoked in support of a range of highly contested historical and contemporary constitutional developments.

  • How did a feudal bargain between an inept King John and his most powerful subjects come to vested with immense symbolism within the United Kingdom’s legal and political order?
  • When the 1215 Magna Carta was quickly repudiated and the reincarnations of the instrument shorn of their more radical provisions, can it support the rule-of-law claims based upon it?
  • How did imperial narratives which justified the extension of Magna Carta to colonised peoples as part of the United Kingdom’s “civilising mission” come to be reimagined as “exporting British values”?

Attendance is free thanks to funding from the Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal and the Society of Legal Scholars. Attendees are asked to register for the Conference by contacting Kevin Crosby at kevin.crosby@ncl.ac.uk.

Further information is available here.