Selden Society: Minutes, Correspondence and Papers

Scope and Content

1. Minute Books, 1887-1996 (5 volumes, box 1)

Minutes of the Provisional Committee, Feb. - July 1887; the Executive Committee, Mar. 1887 - Feb. 1895; and the Council, May 1895 - Dec. 1996; together with minutes of Annual Meetings, Mar. 1895 (9th AGM) - July 1996. There are also minutes of occasional special meetings, sub-committees, etc. The earlier minutes are handwritten. Additional documents, often printed or typed, are stuck in or loosely inserted, e.g. the Society's rules and reports of Annual Meetings, of special committees, or from the Literary Editor. The first three volumes have indexes loosely inserted.

2. Committee Papers, 1951-1990 (7 files, box 2)

Agenda and supporting papers for meetings of the Council; also papers relating to meetings of sub-committees and other informal committees. Typed and duplicated papers are loose in the files.

3. Attendance Books, 1887-1961 (2 volumes, box 2)

Signatures, under the date of the meeting, of the members attending meetings of the Provisional Committee, Feb. - July 1887; the Executive Committee, Nov. 1887 - Feb. 1895; and the Council, Mar. 1895 - Mar. 1961; as well as Annual Meetings, Mar. 1896 - Mar. 1961, and occasional special committees.

4. Correspondence - incoming, 1888-1910 (367 letters, box 3)

Original letters to the Secretary (P.E. Dove to 1894, B.F. Lock from 1895), arranged chronologically within yearly bundles, those for 1896-1902 inclusive having the original description 'editorial correspondence'. Many of the letters are from F.W. Maitland.

5. Correspondence - outgoing letterbooks, 1895-1912 (3 volumes, box 3)

Press-copies of handwritten letters from the Secretary, B. Fossett Lock, to various correspondents. The letters run chronologically, and each volume has an index of addressees at the front.

6. Correspondence - subject files, c.1930-1947 (42 files, boxes 4-5)

Files from the Secretaryship of Stuart Moore. The files contain original incoming and copies of outgoing letters, and are evidently the remains (G-Z only) of an alphabetical filing scheme, arranged mainly by the name of the correspondent, whether personal or institutional. Some of the folders show evidence of having been reused. A memorandum by Dr J.H. Baker, 18 Aug. 1989, notes that some were missing when they were 'discovered in the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies some years ago'.

7. Publications (box 6)

7/1. Annual Reports, 1895-1950 (1 volume). Published leaflets giving a brief report of the Council for each year, together with an abstract of the accounts. There are occasional annotations and at the end handwritten charts showing the length of service of Presidents, Vice-Presidents, etc. The reports of at least two Annual Meetings are loosely inserted.

7/2. Selden Society. Founded 1887. Publications, list of members and rules. Printed brochures, not necessarily annual, with 19 issues, covering 1905 to 1947.

7/3. Publications progress books, 1911-c.1950 (1 volume). Handwritten entries charting the stages in the preparation of each publication, i.e. agreements with editors, reports of the progress, payments, etc., with a summary list at the front.

7/4. 'Selden Society's Placita, Introduction pp.1-155'. An 11-page manuscript by F.W. Maitland, apparently the Society's Vol. 2, 1888, Select Pleas in Manorial and other Seignorial Courts.

7/5. Proofs (first revise) of 'Placita...', pages 116-128, printed by Spottiswoode, Ballantyne&Co., 1922.

7/6. Selden Society Lectures: 1. The Mission of the Selden Society (London, 1961). Text of a lecture delivered in Washington D.C., 30 Aug. 1960, by Sir Cecil Carr, President of the Society. Proof copy, 24 pp.

8-10. Correspondence of the Secretary, 1951-1993 (boxes 7-13)

Correspondence mainly with individuals: officers of the Society, members of the Council, the Treasurer, overseas representatives, and editors of the Society's publications. There are also files on projects, mainly the publication of F.W. Maitland's letters and papers. The files are those of J. Howard Drake, 1951-1967, who was succeeded by Victor Trunkel in 1968. Some files also contain earlier correspondence with the preceding Secretary Stuart Moore.

8. Correspondence with the Honorary Treasurer (box 7)

9. Correspondence with members, who may also be members of the Council, Presidents, Vice-Presidents, overseas representatives, and editors (35 files, boxes 8-12).

10. Correspondence on specific projects (6 files, box 13).

Administrative / Biographical History

The Selden Society was formed in 1887 by Members of the Bar and other interested persons 'to encourage the study and advance of the knowledge of the history of English law'. Its main function was to publish scholarly editions of legal texts of historical interest.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

The Society's older papers, mostly from 1887-1951, were deposited on permanent loan in Cambridge University Library in 1973 and 1989. A further deposit was made through Prof. J.H. Baker in 1998.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives.

Other Finding Aids

Additional Manuscripts Catalogue.


Details of publications of the Selden Society can be found in the Centenary Guide to the Publications of the Selden Society (London, 1987).


Corporate Names