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Rediscovering Anglican Priest-Jurists I: Robert Owen (1820-1902)

Doe, Norman ORCID: 2019. Rediscovering Anglican Priest-Jurists I: Robert Owen (1820-1902). Ecclesiastical Law Journal 21 (1) , pp. 54-68. 10.1017/S0956618X18000959

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This journal has published two distinguished series on the lives and careers of individual jurists in the history of English church law, from the mediaeval period to the late nineteenth century: one by Professor Sir John Baker on ‘famous English canonists’ (1988–1997); and the other by Professor Richard Helmholz on ‘notable ecclesiastical lawyers’ (2013–2017). Most prepared for their professional careers with the study of civil law at Oxford or Cambridge (and before the Reformation also of canon law). Many practised as judges, advocates and proctors in the church courts (until statute ended much of their jurisdiction in the 1850s). Some wrote treatises on church law. A small number were also priests, but less so as the centuries unfolded. While these professional canonists and civilians may have had a monopoly in practising church law, they did not have a monopoly in thinking or writing about it. The clergy, who never trained or practised as lawyers, also had things to say about church law. But the clerical profession has been somewhat neglected by scholarship as a class contributing to the history of church law and jurisprudence. From diocesan bishops through parish priests to clerical scholars in the universities, their books, pamphlets, sermons, letters and other materials often deal with the nature, sources and subjects of church law. Their aims vary: from the educational through the historical or theological to the practical and polemical. These priest-jurists – fathers-in-law, they might quip – contributed much to the intellectual development of church law. One is Robert Owen, a Welsh scholar cleric whose books include Institutes of Canon Law (1884). No scholar has to date unveiled Owen as a notable Anglican priest-jurist – strangely, he has been lost to scholarship as among those whom he himself chided as ‘eminent Canonists’ who ‘hide themselves’ and remain ‘veiled Prophets’.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Law
Centre for Law and Religion (CLR)
Subjects: K Law > KD England and Wales
Publisher: Cambridge University Press (CUP)
ISSN: 0956-618X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 19 June 2023
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2023 21:31

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