1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Maitland, Frederic William

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MAITLAND, FREDERIC WILLIAM (1850–1906), English jurist and historian, son of John Gorham Maitland, was born on the 28th of May 1850, and educated at Eton and Trinity, 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 made himself a thoroughly 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 handicapped in his later years by delicate health, his intellectual grasp and wide knowledge and research gradually made him famous as a jurist and historian. 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 (with Sir F. Pollock, 1895; new ed. 1898; see also his article English Law in this encyclopaedia), 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), besides important contributions to the Cambridge Modern History, the English Historical Review, the Law Quarterly Review, Harvard Law Review and other publications. His writings are marked by vigour and vitality of style, as well as by the highest qualities of the historian who recreates the past from the original sources; he had no sympathy with either legal or historical pedantry; and his death at Grand Canary on the 19th of December 1906 deprived English law and letters of one of their most scholarly and most inspiring representatives, notable alike for sweetness of character, acuteness in criticism, and wisdom in counsel.

See P. Vinogradoff’s article on Maitland in the English Historical Review (1907); Sir F. 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).