Monthly Archives: July 2021

Chronological Bibliography, from Magna Carta to 1970.

The Chronological Bibliography of British and U.K. public statutes now runs up to 1970, and so, for copyright reasons, can be regarded as complete. Together with the Statutes of the Realm series, this means that the majority of public legislation made over circa 765 years should be fairly easy to access.

(The earliest statute in the Realm series is that of Merton, 1235-6, 20 Henry 3; but it is preceded by a variety of charters dating back to 1101; the starting point for the Pickering and Ruffhead is Magna Carta of 1215. Many of the earlier acts are given in Latin or French, sometimes without translation.)

I managed to get Google to release the later volumes by citing the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, section 164: , which states that Royal copyright “subsists in the case of an Act or a Measure of the General Synod of the Church of England, until the end of the period of 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which Royal Assent was given.”

This 50 year term makes 1970 the limit for this bibliography, although there is the possibility of annual extensions, depending on whether the volumes have actually been digitized. From 1988 on, Legislation.gov.uk have a complete set of U.K. public general acts.

These volumes contain the vast majority of laws, especially from the early nineteenth century. But they do not contain every public act passed, and the eighteenth century is much abbreviated. In some cases, the scanned copies of the books are severely marked and worn; and fonts introduce ambiguities. Inevitably, there are also flaws and occlusions in the digital images.

Nevertheless, this collation is both useful and useable. Any errors found, any better quality scans located, please leave a comment.

I am now scanning these volumes, and uploading the OCR’d text to Github. It is my aim to start publishing the complete, corrected texts en masse, in an easy to navigate archival format, next year.