Frederic William Maitland

Frederic William Maitland

Infobox Writer
name = Frederick William Maitland

imagesize =
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birthdate = Birth date|1850|5|28
birthplace =
deathdate = death date and age|1906|12|19|1850|5|28|mf=y
deathplace =
occupation = Historian, Jurist
nationality = English
period =
genre =
subject =
movement =
notableworks = "Domesday Book and Beyond"
spouse = Florence Henrietta Fisher
children = Ermengard, Fredegond
relatives =
influences =
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Frederic William Maitland (May 28, 1850 - December 19, 1906) was an English jurist and historian. He was initially a mathematician, and a friend of Karl Pearson.


He was the son of John Gorham Maitland, and was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, being bracketed at the head of the moral sciences tripos of 1872, and winning a Whewell scholarship for international law.

He was called to the bar (Lincoln's Inn) in 1876, and became a competent equity lawyer and conveyancer, but finally devoted himself to comparative jurisprudence and especially the history of English law. In 1884 he was appointed reader in English law at Cambridge, and in 1888 became Downing professor of the laws of England. Though he suffered poor health, his intellectual grasp and wide knowledge and research gradually made him famous as a jurist and historian.

The History Faculty Library at Oxford University contains the Maitland Room named after him.

He edited numerous volumes for the Selden Society, including "Select Pleas for the Crown", 1200-1225, "Select Pleas in Manorial Courts and The Court Baron"; and among his principal works were:
*"Gloucester Pleas" (1884)
*"Justice and Police" (1885)
*"Bracton's Note-Book" (1887)
*"History of English Law before the Time of Edward I" (with Sir Frederick Pollock, 1895; new ed. 1898; see also his article "English Law" in the "Encyclopædia Britannica")
*"Domesday Book and Beyond" (1897)
*"Township and Borough" (1898)
*"Canon Law in England" (1898)
*"English Law and the Renaissance" (1901)
*the "Life of Leslie Stephen" (1906).He also made important contributions to the "Cambridge Modern History", the "English Historical Review", the "Law Quarterly Review", "Harvard Law Review" and other publications. Maitland delivered the Ford Lectures in 1897.

His written style was elegant and lively, and as a historian he used original sources; he was no pedant. His death at Gran Canaria deprived English law and letters of an outstanding representative.

He married Florence Henrietta Fisher and they had two daughters, Ermengard and Fredegond; after Maitland's death she married Francis Darwin, the son of Charles Darwin.

Further reading

Biographical essays include:

Paul Vinogradoff's article on Maitland in the "English Historical Review" (1907);

Sir Frederick Pollock's in the "Quarterly Review" (1907);
G. T. Lapsley's in "The Green Bag" (Boston, Mass., 1907);

A. L. Smith, "F. W. Maitland" (1908);

H. A. L. Fisher, "F. W. Maitland" (1910);

G. R. Elton, "F.W. Maitland" (1985).

C H S Fifoot, "Frederic William Maitland: A Life" (1971) (only full length biography in print. Written by an academic lawyer in the field, but covering both the personal and professional life of its subject).


first=Frederic William
author-link=Frederic William Maitland
title=Domesday Book and Beyond: Three Essays in the Early History of England.
publisher=University Press

author-link=Sir Frederick Pollock, 3rd Baronet
first2=Frederic William
author2-link=Frederic William Maitland
title=The History of English Law Before the Time of Edward I
publisher=University Press
A number of Maitland's works have been reproduced on the McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought
* []

A painting of Maitland (1906) by Beatrice Locke is available from the National Portrait Gallery
* []

* Quia Emptores
* Henry de Bracton
*Cestui que


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