Common Law Resources

Record keeping was a built-in part of the machinery of the English Common Law, which means it produced quite a lot of documents. There are a lot of great sources available for research, but it can also be challenging to sift through all of the information and kinds of documents. Below, you'll find some helpful reference material and online collections featuring editions and digitized manuscripts. If you have suggestions for resources to add, please contact me!


Civil Law, Common Law, Customary Law: "Short Definitions"

A glossary of legal terms

Research Guides from The National Archives

Guides at the National Archives are based around specific collections - typically a type of source or court, such as the Court of the King's Bench, General Eyres, and Feet of Fines. These include helpful background information and resources in addition to guidance for research at the National Archives.

USC Gould School of Law's English Medieval Legal Documents Database

This is a comprehensive bibliography of published sources for English law, from 600 to 1535.

Duke Law's Guide to English Legal History

A guide to research aids, printed primary sources, and online sources. The "Cases" section is a great place to start when looking for sources.

The Triangle Legal History Seminar's Legal History on the Web

This website includes online resources for all areas of legal history, including research guides, syllabi, and grants.


Medieval English Genealogy: "Medieval source material on the internet: Common law records"

A collection of links to English legal sources available online, from the 6th-16th centuries

Anglo-American Legal Tradition

A digitized collection of a range of legal manuscripts on medieval and early modern English law from the National Archives in London, created by the O'Quinn Law Library of the University of Houston. There is a helpful wiki to navigate the site that highlights interesting cases.

Early English Laws

This project is gradually creating new editions of all English law codes and treatises from between 589 and 1215. You can find online editions, plus digitized versions of 81 medieval legal manuscripts.

Yale Law School's Avalon Project

Yale's Avalon Project contains English translations of legal documents. Their section on medieval documents includes legal texts from around Europe, including a selection of key charters, constitutions, and assizes from England.

Harvard Law School's Bracton Online

Contains the Latin and English of On the Laws and Customs of England, the thirteenth-century legal treatise. In addition to being able to view the Latin and English side-by-side, you can also search the text in either language.

Harvard Law School's Collection of Medieval English Statute Books and Registers of Writs

A digitized collection of manuscripts of English statute books from the late 13th through mid 15th centuries, created by the Ames Foundation.