Milsom Studentship in English Legal History

The Selden Society regularly funds a Milsom Studentship for a person undertaking research in English legal history leading to the degree of PhD (or equivalent) at a university in the United Kingdom.  The Studentship is named in honour of the late Professor S.F.C. Milsom, sometime Literary Director and President of the Society.

The studentship is  tenable for a maximum of three years, subject to an annual review of progress. The annual value of the studentship is  a sum equivalent to the current total of the home fees and recommended minimum maintenance allowance at the university at which the student is registered for the PhD degree, to a total maximum of £22,500. Preference may be given to applicants who do not have funding from another source.

Applicants are asked to submit their research proposal and CV, and indicate the university and department where they will pursue their degree. Applicants should also arrange for  two academic references to be submitted.

Please use the following links for the Application Form and the  Selden Studentship Regulations 2021.  Further information may also be obtained from the Secretary of the Society, School of Law, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS,

The Milsom studentship is offered e very three years: it is likely to be offered again for doctoral research commencing in 2025.

Sir James Holt Award

In honour of Sir James Holt, sometime President of the Society, the Selden Society offers up to two annual awards of £1000 for research expenses incurred in order to work on English legal manuscripts in any period of history. Priority may be given to work associated with the production of volumes for the Society. Expenditure should be on specific research costs, such as for travel to libraries or archives or the purchase of images.

Proposals should take the form of a one page outline of the work and its significance and a one page setting out the costs. This should be sent to the Secretary together with the name and address of two referees.

The closing date for applications for this award is 31 December 2023.


David Yale Prize

Instituted in 1998, this biennial prize is awarded for an outstanding contribution to the history of the law of England and Wales from scholars who have been engaged in research in the subject for not longer than about ten years.  Since 2017, separate prizes have been given for the best book and the best article published  in the preceding two years. The prize is named in honour of Mr David Yale, QC, FBA, then President of the Society and formerly Literary Director.

The 2019 David Yale Book prize was awarded to Elizabeth Papp Kamali for Felony and the Guilty Mind in Medieval England (Cambridge University Press, 2019). The prize committee said of this work:

Papp-Kamali’s Felony and the Guilty Mind in Medieval England is a wide-ranging and deeply researched contribution to the history of criminal law. In seeking to understand what ‘felony’ meant in medieval England, Papp-Kamali takes on a question which Maitland considered unanswerable. This book changes our existing understanding, using a challenging methodology which uses a much wider range of sources than is often the case in legal history scholarship. In doing so she places legal history within the history of wider cultural norms and influences to produce perceptive and valuable conclusions.

The 2019 David Yale article prize was awarded to Ciara Kennefick for ‘‘The Contribution of Contemporary Mathematics to Contractual Fairness in Equity, 1751-1867’ in the Journal of Legal History 39 (2018), pp.  307-339. The prize committee said of this article:

Kennefick’s ‘The Contribution of Contemporary Mathematics to Contractual Fairness in Equity, 1751-1867’ is a genuinely novel re-examination of an important part of English legal history, highlighting the interaction between questions of law about contractual fairness, and mathematics. Interest in legal questions drove interest in the study of probability, while developments in the mathematics of probability came to resolve legal questions. The article changes the way we look at the history of this area of law.

The committee also recommended that an honourable mention  be given to Thomas J. McSweeney for his book Priests of the Law:  Roman Law and the Making of the Common Law’s First Professionals (Oxford University Press, 2019)

Past winners include Thomas P. Gallanis (1999), Daniel Klerman (2001), Neil Jones (2003), Sara Elin Roberts (2007),  Ian Williams (2013), Kenneth F. Duggan (2017) and Sean Bottomley (2017).