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Title: Law and politics under the later Stuarts : Sir John Holt, the courts, and the constitutional crisis of 1688
Author: Artley, George
ISNI:       0000 0004 7966 4140
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis examines the relationship between law and politics during the decades of constitutional turbulence either side of the Glorious Revolution through an analysis of the career of Lord Chief Justice Sir John Holt (1642-1710). It is not an exhaustive biography of Holt, although it does pursue a number of biographical themes: Holt's family background; his rise to prominence in his legal career; the networks of patronage that advanced him. It also focuses on his jurisprudence, and on his constitutional and political thought. In doing so, this thesis helps to answer three interrelated questions: the significance of the law in the collapse of James II's regime, the nature of the intellectual relationship between law, history, and politics at the turn of the eighteenth century, and whether the revolution led to the establishment of the 'rule of law' in any identifiable sense in the years after 1688. This thesis offers new perspectives in three principal areas of historiography. First, it demonstrates how Holt's career can help us to understand better the mechanics by which James lost the support of the judiciary. It suggests that Holt was not a whig, but rather a tory pushed to breaking point by James's arbitrary behaviour. Second, it argues that doubts about the universal applicability of J.G.A. Pocock's vision of common law intellectual and constitutional culture in this period, encapsulated in his theory of the 'common law mind', are well founded. This is achieved through a detailed analysis of Holt's manuscript opinions, an approach which also helps to uncover the historical significance of such documents within the eighteenth- century legal profession. Finally, this thesis suggests that dominant accounts of the emergence of a judiciary independent from political manipulation, and a constitutional system in which executive will was subordinated to law after 1688, need to be radically reassessed.
Supervisor: Holmes, Clive ; Gauci, Perry Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: King's Bench ; Glorious Revolution ; Common Law ; Stuart England ; Rule of Law ; Legal History ; Ancient Constitution