Ian Williams

Ian Williams

MA, LLM, PhD (Cantab)

Senior Lecturer


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.

Ian’s research interests are in legal history, particularly early-modern English legal history (c.1500-c.1640). He has a particular interest in the history of common-law reasoning and its interaction with legal theory, as well as the history of common law books (working in both book history and the history of reading).

Ian is currently working on a variety of legal history projects, including several articles and chapters on the dissemination of legal knowledge in early-modern England (especially English legal printing in the reign of Charles I) and a collection of articles on the theory and practice of the court of Star Chamber.

He also occasionally researches topics in modern property law, including the law of succession.

Recent Publications

‘Developing a Prerogative Theory for the Authority of the Chancery: the French Connection’, pp.33-59 in Mark Godfrey (ed.), Law and Authority in British Legal History, 1200-1900 (2016, Cambridge University Press)

‘How does the common law forfeiture rule work?’, pp.51-75 in Birke Haecker and Charles Mitchell (eds.), Current Issues in Succession Law (2016, Hart)

‘Explaining the Certainty of Term Requirement in Leases: Nothing Lasts Forever’ (2015) 74 Cambridge Law Journal 592-609

Forthcoming Publications

‘The Carrier’s Case (1473)’ in Phil Handler, Henry Mares and Ian Williams (eds.), Landmark Cases in Criminal Law (2017, Hart)

‘Common Law Scholarship and the Written Word’ in Bradin Cormack and Lorna Hutson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Law and Literature, 1500-1700 (Oxford University Press)

‘The role of rules: legal maxims in early-modern common law principle and practice’ in Max del Mar and Michael Lobban (eds.), Law, Theory and History: new essays on a neglected dialogue (Hart)

‘Christopher St German: religion, conscience and law in Reformation England’ in Mark Hill and Richard Helmholz (eds.), Great Christian Jurists in English History (Cambridge University Press)

View Ian’s research profile on the UCL IRIS website



  • History of English Law
  • Property Law I
  • Ian has 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)