S. F. C. Milsom

Stroud Francis Charles Milsom QC FBA FRHistS (2 May 1923 – 24 February 2016) was an English legal historian known for fundamentally revising some of the ideas of F.W. Maitland. He was President of the Selden Society from 1985 to 1988. At the time of his death he was emeritus professor of law at St John's College, University of Cambridge.[1]

Early life

Milsom was born in Merton, Surrey in 1923. He was educated at Charterhouse and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he read Law.


Between 1944 and 1945 he worked for Naval Intelligence. He was called to the bar by Lincoln’s Inn in 1947, but never practiced. The same year, he received a Commonwealth Fund Fellowship to the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He was a fellow of New College, Oxford, from 1956 to 1964, when he completed for publication Novae Narrationes, the Selden Society's volume for 1963,[2] later cited in his book Historical Foundations of the Common Law.

He was Professor of Legal History at the London School of Economics between 1964 and 1976, succeeding to Theodore Plucknett, and he succeeded Plucknett as Literary Director of the Selden Society, 1965-1980. The first edition of his seminal Historical Foundations of the Common Law was published in 1969.[3][4] During those years, he also taught occasionally as a visiting professor at Yale Law School.[5] Subsequently, Milsom was the Society's President from 1985 to 1988, succeeding to Geoffrey Elton.[6] From 1976 to 1990 he was Professor of Law at the University of Cambridge. In 1980, he delivered the Selden Society's lecture, on The Nature of Blackstone's Achievement.[7] In 1986 he delivered the Ford Lectures (Oxford) on Law and Society in the 12th and 13th centuries.


    1. Squire Law Library, Cambridge
    2. Selden Society, Vol. 80, for 1963: Novae Narrationes, Edited by the late Miss Elsie Shanks and S. F. C. Milsom, Fellow of New College, Oxford.
    3. L. Dingle and D. Bates, Squire Law Library
    4. Historical Foundations of the Common Law, S. F. C. Milsom, published Butterworths (1969) ISBN 0406625018
    5. "The Rare Book Collection opens 2017 with an outstanding gift". Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School. Yale University. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
    6. A Centenary Guide to the Publications of the Selden Society, 1987.
    7. Selden Society Publications, Lecture Series

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