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Lady Anne Clifford’s Common-Law Mind

Lady Anne Clifford’s Common-Law Mind Abstract: This article argues that Lady Anne Clifford’s 1616–1619 diaries, which chronicle not only her lawsuit to inherit her family lands and titles but also her daily practices, form part of Clifford’s lifelong obsession with legal and extralegal ways of establishing herself as a landowner. While her records of frequent walking and praying “abroad,” or outdoors, and of her prodigious reading may seem distinct from her famous lawsuit, they possess a genealogical significance that signals her profound connection to her property. Clifford’s archives reveal her extensive knowledge of English common law, the legal system that backed her claims. Her enduring engagement with English common law influences the generic form of the diaries, with their repetitive documentation of her land-based practices. Just as common law garnered authority and meaning through its status as “custom,” Clifford’s diaries express the hope that her own customs would one day obtain the force of law. In this way, Clifford’s diaries evince a unique instance of what J. G. A. Pocock has called “the common-law mind.” http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Studies in Philology University of North Carolina Press

Lady Anne Clifford’s Common-Law Mind

Studies in Philology , Volume 111 (3) – Jul 3, 2014

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 The University of North Carolina Press.
ISSN
1543-0383
Publisher site
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Abstract

Abstract: This article argues that Lady Anne Clifford’s 1616–1619 diaries, which chronicle not only her lawsuit to inherit her family lands and titles but also her daily practices, form part of Clifford’s lifelong obsession with legal and extralegal ways of establishing herself as a landowner. While her records of frequent walking and praying “abroad,” or outdoors, and of her prodigious reading may seem distinct from her famous lawsuit, they possess a genealogical significance that signals her profound connection to her property. Clifford’s archives reveal her extensive knowledge of English common law, the legal system that backed her claims. Her enduring engagement with English common law influences the generic form of the diaries, with their repetitive documentation of her land-based practices. Just as common law garnered authority and meaning through its status as “custom,” Clifford’s diaries express the hope that her own customs would one day obtain the force of law. In this way, Clifford’s diaries evince a unique instance of what J. G. A. Pocock has called “the common-law mind.”

Journal

Studies in PhilologyUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Jul 3, 2014

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