About the Selden Society
The Selden Society was founded in 1887.
The Society operates as a charitable trust, with its object being 'to encourage the study and to advance the knowledge of the history of English law'.
The President of the Society is distinguished legal historian Sir John Baker QC. The Hon Treasurer is a Queensland lawyer currently residing in London, Mr Alexander McKinnon. The scholarly work of the Society is supervised by its Literary Director, Dr Neil Jones, Magdalene College, Cambridge.
An outline of the Society's rich history can be found in its publication A Centenary Guide to the Publications of the Selden Society.
The world-wide membership of the Society now stands at about 1700, with a wide variety of members drawn from the judiciary, the legal profession and the universities. After the UK and the USA, Australia is the third largest constituency of the Society, with about 230 members.
The Society’s connection to Australia began with Sir Samuel Griffith QC, who was one of the members of the founding Council. Eminent Australian Judges who have served on the Council include Sir Charles Lilley, Sir Samuel Way, Sir Owen Dixon, Sir Victor Windeyer, Sir Garfield Barwick, Sir Daryl Dawson and the Hon Bruce McPherson QC.
The Honorary Secretary and Treasurer for Australia is the Supreme Court Librarian (Mr David Bratchford).
The Society’s principal activity is editing and publishing in annual volumes the manuscript source-material of English law: early law reports, courts’ records, judges’ notebooks, legal treatises. Each volume has the original text with modern translation and a full introduction. An occasional, supplementary series contains ancillary materials: bibliographical, biographical, professional history, legal London, etc. There is also a published Selden lecture series.
The Society also seeks to provide members with a program of entertaining and informative lectures dealing with matters of legal history. In Australia, these lectures are delivered in the Banco Court of the Supreme Court of Queensland. They are also video recorded for the benefit of the Society’s wider membership. These recordings can be accessed from this website.
The Society warmly welcomes new members.