Manuscripts and Special Collections
   
   
  

Law Terms

Many documents, particularly official documents, are dated by reference to a law term. These emerged because there were certain times of the year during which legal business could not take place and cases would have to be suspended. As a result, it was generally preferred to pursue legal matters at times when they could be fairly continuous. There were four main periods when this was possible, and these developed to become the law terms - Michaelmas, Hilary, Easter and Trinity.

  • Michaelmas term runs from the 1st of October to the 21st of December.
  • Hilary term runs from the 11th of January to the Wednesday before Easter Sunday.
  • Easter term runs from the second Tuesday after Easter Sunday, and ends on the Friday before Whit Sunday.
  • Finally, Trinity term runs from the second Tuesday after Whit Sunday and ends on the 31st of July.

When documents are dated by law term, they will normally bear the name of the term, followed by a regnal year, e.g. Trinity Term 50 George III. The sorts of documents which may be dated in this way include various forms of legal paper, parliamentary bills and acts, and exemplifications of documents such as final concords and common recoveries.

 

Endorsement on exemplification of common recovery, 1773 (Ne D 3040)

Endorsement on exemplification of common recovery, 1773 (Ne D 3040)

 

Next page: Other Forms of Dating

 

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