UCL Faculty of Laws

Dr Ian Williams

Dr Ian Williams

Associate Professor

Faculty of Laws


Joined UCL
1st Sep 2009

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. As part of the latter I work on book history.

Recent work has focused on the relationship between early-modern legal theory and legal practice/reasoning and has led to two book chapters 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;
  • several articles as part of a large project concerning the court of Star Chamber. Part of this research (concerning the theory and practice of Star Chamber as a court of criminal equity) is supported by 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.

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)


University College London
AFHEA, Education | 2011
University of Cambridge
PhD, History by topic | 2009
University of Cambridge
MA, | 2007
University of Cambridge
LLM, Law | 2004


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.