University of Wales, Aberystwyth Department of Law Archive

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive contains material relating to the establishment of the Faculty of Law, including a list of subscribers to the proposed department; printed material including the Student Law Review, prospectuses and articles written by members of staff; photographs; correspondence; minutes of faculty and departmental meetings; Law News - the departmental newsletter; papers of the UWA Law Society; public lectures; newspaper cuttings relating to the department, and lecture notes.

Administrative / Biographical History

The beginnings of the Law Department at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth can be traced to a meeting held in London during 1899. The meeting was convened to discuss calls for the establishment of a law department at the college. Those supporting the plan declared their ambition to be the creation of a law school for the provision of a broad education in legal principles, as opposed to the narrow professional training provided by other colleges. The plan gained a great deal of support, but finances proved problematic, as they had done throughout the early history of the University of Wales. Committees were thus established to raise both awareness and funds on the Bar circuits of North and South Wales, and amongst London Welshmen. As a result of these efforts, the College committed itself to the establishment of a faculty of law in 1901.

Applications were considered for the Chair of Law. Amongst the most prominent applicants were Thomas A Levi, a former Aberystwyth student with a double first from Oxford, and son of the Revd Thomas Levi, "king of the Cardiganshire Methodists". W Jethro Brown, former professor of law at the University of Tasmania and University College London, also impressed the selection board. The former was therefore appointed Professor of English Law, and the latter Professor of Constitutional and Comparative Law.

The Faculty of Law was formally opened in October 1901, making it the oldest law school in Wales, and one of the eldest in the UK. During its early years, the faculty invited many distinguished figures from the legal world to deliver inaugural lectures, providing the fledgling faculty with prestige and support. Crises, such as the financial problems of 1905, were overcome through the hard work of the professors and the support of influential figures such as Daniel Lleufer Thomas. The loss of W Jethro Brown also threatened the department's future, but the establishment soon afterwards of the Board of Legal Education for Wales provided the Faculty with a secure footing from which it would develop into a top-class law school.

T A Levi, the first professor of law who did so much for his Faculty, retired in 1940. His replacement as head of department was the equally active D J Llewelfryn Davies, who remained in his post until J A Andrews took over in 1970. It was during this period that the Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences was established, a faculty that the school of law at Aberystwyth would join in the early 1990s, forming the current Department of Law. The Head of Department is now Professor John Williams, who followed Professor Richard Kidner into the post.

During its hundred years of existence, the Law Department at UWA has developed greatly. Although confined largely to the curriculum set out by the Law Society, new subjects have been introduced, such as EC Law, and the tradition of a broad legal education continues with subjects such as the History of Crime and Punishment and the Sociology and Anthropology of Law. Its reputation has become well known, with graduates going on to develop distinguished legal careers, and the department is now one of the College's greatest assets.

Conditions Governing Access

The papers may be consulted through application to either Mr Richard Ireland or Mr Daryl Fletcher, The Department of Law, University of Wales Aberystwyth, Hugh Owen Building, Penglais, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 3DY.

Note

Description compiled by Rhian Phillips, Archives Hub project archivist, with reference to E L Ellis, The University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, 1872-1972, (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1972), and http://www.aber.ac.uk/law/.

Other Finding Aids

Basic finding aid available on request from Archives staff.