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Dr Ian Williams
  • Lecturer
  • Faculty of Laws

Ian joined UCL in September 2009 from Cambridge University, where he was a College Lecturer at Christ’s College. He was a Francis Bacon Foundation Fellow at the Henry E. Huntington Library, California in 2006.

Research Themes
Research Summary

My research interests are principally in legal history, particularly early-modern English legal history. I have particular interests in the history of common-law reasoning and its interaction with legal theory as well as the relationship between texts and legal practice.

Recent work has focused on the relationship between early-modern legal theory and legal practice/reasoning and has led to two book chapters to be published in 2016:

  • 'Developing a Prerogative Theory for the Chancery: the French Connection', forthcoming in the proceedings of the 2013 British Legal History Conference and awarded the David Yale Prize by the Selden Society; 
  • 'The Role of Rules: Legal Maxims in Early-Modern Common Law Practice and Principle'. 

I am currently working on a variety of legal history projects:
  • several articles and chapters on the dissemination of legal knowledge in early-modern England and especially English legal printing in the reign of Charles I;
  • co-editing the Landmark Cases in Criminal Law book (2016, Hart) and a chapter for inclusion in that volume on the important fifteenth century larceny case known as The Carrier's Case;
  • the theory and practice of the court of Star Chamber as a court of criminal equity for which I have been awarded a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Small Research Grant;
  • an investigation of the idea of common opinion as a source of law from the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries.

In the longer term, I intend to focus on:

  • speeches delivered in the Inns of Court;
  • a longer study on common law reasoning and theory c.1500-1640. 

I also work on topics in modern property law. Recent work in that field covers:
  • the certainty of term requirement in leases (published in the 2015 Cambridge Law Journal);
  • understanding the common law forfeiture rule in succession law (forthcoming in Haecker and Mitchell (eds), Current Issues in Succession Law (Hart)).
Teaching Summary


  • History of English Law
  • Property Law I
  • I have also taught Criminal Law, the Law of Trusts, the Law of Succession and Tort 


  • Historical Development of the Common Law
  • PhD Research Students' Programme: Legal History

Continuing Professional Education:

  • Roman Law as an Introduction to Modern Civil Law Systems (part of the Notarial Practice Course)
Academic Background
2009 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – History by topic University of Cambridge
2007 MA Master of Arts University of Cambridge
2004 LLM Master of Laws – Law University of Cambridge
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