Law Library

Lord Eldon Collection

John Scott, Lord Eldon, served as Chancellor of Great Britain from 1801-1827 (except briefly in 1806-07). Esteemed by many contemporaries as the most learned lawyer of his day, he was a key figure in establishing the principles and rules of equity. Of particular interest in this collection are the manuscript volumes containing his trial notes, which provide insight into his analysis of the law.

Lord Eldon

The books and manuscripts known as the Eldon Collection are from the library of John Scott, 1st Lord Eldon, Lord Chancellor of Great Britain for almost 25 years (1801-1806, 1807-1827), longer than any other before or since, during which time he largely succeeded in his ambition to formalize the principles of equity. As Attorney-General, he conducted the high treason trials in 1794. He was also an important member of the government and held the favor of both George III and George IV. The Eldon Collection was placed on loan to the Middle Temple Library in 1934 by the Scott family. Prior to that time it had been in continuous possession of the family at Encombe, the Dorset estate Eldon acquired as his family home in 1807. It was acquired by the Edward Bennett Williams Library from the family in February, 2001.

At the heart of the Eldon Collection are the manuscript volumes, especially Eldon's trial notes. These notebooks offer unique insight into the judge's analysis of the law, especially before the advent of the verbatim law reports. The decisions of Lord Eldon are particularly important for the principles of equity settled therein. These volumes are not only unique, they are central to understanding all modern common law systems. There are many uncommon and interesting volumes in the collection, but this is above all the collection of a working practitioner and judge. Its importance lies in the relationship of the volumes as a collection made and used by Eldon, reflecting his knowledge, interests, and thoughts from his student days at Oxford throughout his life as lawyer and judge.


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