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Legal history: England & common law tradition: Dictionaries


For details of the manuscript tradition of Expositiones vocabulorum see Red book of the Exchequer Rolls Ser. iii, 1896 pp1032-1039. A corrupt version of one tradition found its way into early printed abridgments and editions of the statutes. See further Cowley's Bibliography of Abridgments etc (1932) at Ref Bibl Cw UK C875

Dictionaries of the languages of early common law

Law French & Law Latin

For background see 'The three languages of the common law'  in Baker, The Common law tradition: lawyers, books and the law (Legal Hist. B167d) and the sources mentioned in the footnotes.

Baker’s Manual of Law French  at  KL44.BAK 1990 is the best guide for anyone needing to translate from the original.

Some examples of early legal dictionaries are available via links below.

First edition of Stroud's Dictionary (The judicial dictionary of words and phrases judicially interpreted) was published in 1890.

Law Latin

Latin (in a post-classical form) was the usual language of writs and court rolls until 1731 (4 Geo. II, c.26).