Law and History
Law and History. Every act in British Law has a historical context, shedding light on what things, parliament and therefore society hold to be most important. Use the timeline to explore this historic theme. How does engagement with law and its processes help historians?
Law and History is a theme that helps to tell the story about what society holds important. An historical context helps to shed light on what we hold to be most important to society.
Laws impact across all our themes and they can be useful benchmarks of social change and reform. As we traverse our themes, periods and centuries we discover some connections to the laws of the land. Our timeline table allows you to access more detailed content. The collection will be gradually catalogued and linked new articles and research, as we progress. In Britain the laws are founded upon hundreds of years of Common Law. Our Laws in themselves, tells a rich story of British history and of life as we live it today in Britain. In this the 800th year (2015) since Magna Carta, which was sealed in 1215 by King John, the world is examining the place of British law as it is interpreted globally. We should be tankful for the rich collection of legal online resources, which we can use to encourage debate. Treaties, statutes, system of law and core concepts, all can be discussed here.
And what of the role of lawyers themselves, how have they been viewed throughout history, some such as Thomas Cromwell, had the ear of the most influential people in the land.
"Any law which violates the inalienable rights of man is essentially unjust and tyrannical, it is not a law at all."
Theme Law and Order Timeline
|Date of Law or entry in chronology||Title of Law Treaty or Instrument or Term||Notes and references|
|1st Anglo Saxon Laws||Law|
|1066 11th Century||William I's Laws||Monarchy Law|
|1215 13th Century||Magna Carta|
Freedom and Liberty King John Magna Carta Habeas Corpus Trial by Peers
|Freedom and Liberty
King John Magna Carta
Habeas Corpus Trial by Peers
|1351 14th Century||Statute of Labourers 1351||Employment Law Work and occupations Job|
|1388 14th Century||Statute of Cambridge 1388||Statute of Cambridge|
|1494 15th Century||Vagabonds and Beggars Act 1494||Poor Law|
|1547 16th Century||Edward VI and Vagrancy Act 1547|
Edward VI and Vagrancy Act 1547
|Poor law Edward VI Tudor|
|1562 16th Century||Witchcraft Act 1562||Witchcraft Act 1562|
|1601 17th Century||Poor Law England 1601||Poor Law 1601|
|1628 17th Century||The Petition of Right 1628||Petition of Rights 1628|
|1711 18th Century||The Bubble Act 1720 |
The Act required a company o have a Royal Charter to be incorporated and this statute was put on the statute book in a vain effort to stop the competition from trading in the lucrative South American and Western Coast of North America Markets. It would end in the crash and disaster when the Bubble burst. Once it was repealed the basis of Company law could evolve and in particular the nature of Joint Stock ownership could thrive, supported by the Companies Acts of 1844 and Limitation Of Liabilities Acts. But it would be a long century before the Bubble Act was repealed. For more on Joint Stock Ownership and the Corporate entityJoint Stock Ownership and the development of the Corporae Entity
|Business Company law Trade Economy Stock Exchange Bank of England South Seas Company|
|1720-1782 18th Century||Declaratory Act 1720||This act attempted to resolve the constitutional relationship between Britain and Ireland that had periodically flared up in the period since the Glorious Revolution. The act was repealed in 1782.|
|1723 18th Century||Workhouse Test Act 1723||Workhouse Test Act 1723|
|1766 18th Century||Declaratory Act 1766||Following repeal of the Stamp Act, it affirmed the right of Parliament to enact laws remaining to the American colonies.|
|1774 18th Century||Repeal of Calico Act 1774||Repeal of the Callico Act 1774|
|1782 18th Century||Gilberts Act 1782||Gilberts Act of 1782: Enabling Parishes to pool together and form Unions for Poor Relief.|
|1815 19th Century||The Corn Laws 1815||Corn Laws Act of 1815|
|1832 19th Century||Great Reform Act|
|1832 19th Century||Anatomy Act 1832||Anatomy Act 1832|
|1832 19th Century||Review of the Poor Law Act 1832||Review of the Poor Law Act 1832,Earl Grey, the Prime Minister, set up a review of the Poor Law Act of 1601. The result of the review was a report that came to the conclusions as set out on the linked article. It was not really good news for the Poor and continued the tradition dating back 300 plus years before that the 'poor are idle vagabonds.6 This was about minimising the cost of the poor on society not helping them and begun the draconian principles of the Poor Law Unions and Workhouse system. Click for more information. on the title.|
|1833 19th Century||Abolition of Slavery Act 1833||Abolition of Slavery Act 1833|
|1834 19th Century||Poor Law Amendment Act 1834||Poor Law Amendment Act 1834|
|1834 19th Century||‘Lunatics’ and the Poor Law Act 1834||Lunatics and the Poor Law Act 1834|
|1836 19th Century||Birth Marriage Death Registration Act 1836||Birth Marriage Death Registration Act 1836: The Birth, Marriage and Death Registration Act of 1836, introduced registration of these life events but contained no penalties for refusal to register.|
|1838 19th Century||Britain Applies Poor Law Act to Ireland 1838||Poor Law is applied to Ireland|
|1840 19th Century||Convention of London 1840 re Egypt Sudan and Acre|
Convention of London Treaty between Major Power and Muhammad Ali's Egypt and the Ottoman Empire
|Property Law Key Concepts|
|1844 19th Century||Companies Act 1844/|
Following repeal of the Bubble Act of 1720 this statute did away with the need for royal assent and charter to proceed with the formation of a Joint Stock Company with transferable stock or shares. All that was now required was registration.
|Business Company Law Bubble Act South Seas Company Economy|
|1846 19th Century||Repeal of the Corn Laws 1846||Repeal of the Corn Laws Act 1846|
|1850 19th Century||Factory Act 1850||Factory Act 1850 The Factory Act 1850 reflects the development of formalised workers rights as the plight of the common man during this period of intense industrialisation replaced exploitation as he had tilled in the fields, for exploitation in dirty and often unsavory factory environments.|
|1850 19th Century||Repeal of the Navigation Acts 1850||Repeal of the Navigation Acts 1850|
|1855 19th Century||Limitation Of Liabilities Act 1855|
Following Company registration under Companies Act 1844 shareholders risks were legally limited to the value of their shares encouraging broader participation in share ownership and business investment. See also Incorporation and Joint Stock Ownership.
|Business Company Law|
|1862 19th Century||Land Registry Founded|
Copyhold Tenure what does it mean? Land rights a cornerstone of British history. Copyhold leasehold and Freehold as legal concepts and land right tenures explained.
|Property and Land Law|
|1864 19th Century||First Contagious Disease Act 1864 Why was it important and who was Josephine Butler?|
The First Contagious Disease Act of 1864 and why was Josephine Butler important? This act was passed with the aim of controlling the spread of venereal disease in 1864. The impact was that prostitutes and those even believed to be so could be locked away in special hospitals. The reality was these were places not of kindness care and for improving their health and welfare but places where the women were subject to male brutality violence and shocking events that eventually got out into public knowledge.
|Health and Safety Law
Social Change Work Jobs and Occupations
|1867 19th Century||Second Reform Act 1867|
This 2nd attempt at expand the members of the British Population who were entitled to vote fell short of true democracy but a long mark. But relatively it was a large leap forward, although it did not go far enough.
|Law and Democracy
Right to vote
Womens Suffrage and Womens Rights
|1870 19th Century||Married Women’s Property Act 1870|
The Married Women’s Property Act of 1870 was one of the most important statutory laws enacted. It marked a change in the role of women in Britain.
|Suffrage Womens Rights
|1870 19th Century||Education Act 1870|
Education Act 1870 introduces secular rate-supported Elementary Schools administered by approximately 2000 school boards.
|Education Children Law|
|1873 19th Century||Education Act 1873||Education Children Law|
|1876 19th Century||Education Act 1876||Education Children Law|
|1880 19th Century||Education Act 1880|
Education Act 1880 introduces compulsory schooling and education.
|1902 20th Century||Education Act 1902|
Education Act 1902 extends opportunities for secondary education.
|1906 20th Century||Education School Meals Provision Act 1906|
Education (Provision of Meals) Act 1906, in the same year of the radical and reforming People's Budget when the need for rearmament funding and balance of the need for social reform is fiercely contested. This provision to assist and ensure poor children get reduced cost meals available to them at school. Costs to be shared by local and central government and this applies only to elementary schools.
|Health and Nutrition Children Education Law
|1907 20th Century||Education (Administrative Provisions ) Act|
Education (Administrative Provisions ) Act 1907
provides for medical inspection for elementary schools and starts to introduce a free-places quota in the elementary schools.
|Education Children Law
Health and Sanitation Law
|1911 20th Century||Parliament Act 1911|
A vital moment in our democratic history when following two geneneral elections after the debacle of lloyd George's Constitutional Crisis of the People’s Budget 1909 and the death of Edward VII finally the King's Barons are subjugated to the will of the Commons and can no longer reject or block legislation passed by the elected House of Commons.
|Law and Democracy
British Constitution Unwritten law
|1918 20th Century||Representation of the People Act 1918|
Representation of the Peoples Act: 1918 finally Britain starts the process of creating proper democracy: It is far from perfect but post the horrors of the war and suffrage the process of reform has begun. This act was also known as the 4th reform act.
It started the process proper of bringing democracy to the UK but it was just a start and it was pretty late in getting underway:
|Law and Democracy
|1918 20th Century||Education Act 1918||Education Act 1918 makes compulsory attendance universal to the age of 14 and introduces continuation classes for between school leaver age and 18.|
|1919 20th Century||Paris Peace Conference 1919 and Treaty of Versailles 1919|
WW1 Peace Treaty from the Paris Peace Conference 1919 held in Versailles Palace France.
|War and Law
Empire International Relations
|1931 20th Century||Statute of Westminster|
The statute confers legislative autonomy to Canada, Newfoundland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand as part of the British Commonwealth
|Empire Dominions Canada Britain Commonwealth Government|
|1936 20th Century||Education Act 1936|
Raises the school leaving age to 15 but later this is deferred due to WW2, meaning that boys of over 14 would be available for work or service if required.
|Education Children Law|
|1936 20th Century||Anglo-Egyptian Treaty 1936|
Loosening control over the Middle East with the Anglo Egyptian Treaty but retaining control of the Suez Canal.
|International Relations Egypt Britain Treaties|
|1944 20th Century||Education Act 1944|
President of Board of Education becomes minister for education, primary and secondary education are divided at 11 plus and school leaving age is raised to 15, after war deferral but does not become operative until 1947.
|Law Education Children|
|1949 20th Century||Parliament Act 1949 Amended|
This was an amendment shortening and equalising the maximum delay that the House of Lords can cause to the passing of a Bill in the House of Commons. It was a revision of the original 1911 act.
|Democracy parliament Government|