The History and Theory of English Contract Law The History and Theory of English Contract Law
By Thomas A. Street
1999/11 - Beard Books - Law Classic
1893122247 - Paperback - Reprint - 582 pp.

An interesting historical treatment on the growth of the law of contracts in general and specific types of contracts, such as bailments, bills and notes, and agency.

Publisher Comments

Category: Banking & Finance

The fundamental principles of the law of contracts are set forth along historical and evolutionary lines. The common-law principles of contract can be traced back to the twelfth century. The volume is divided into four parts: the history and general principles of contract law; the history and theory of the law of bailment; the history and practice of the law of bills and notes; and the genesis and theory of the law of agency.

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Thomas Atkins Street, A.M., LL.B. was a professor with the School of Law at Vanderbilt University.

Other Beard Books by Thomas A. Street


Part I. General History and General Principles of Contract

Early History of English Contract Law 
Age of Glanvill  1
The Real Contracts  3
Formal Contracts 7
Jurisdiction of Ecclesiastical Courts 11
Bractonian Epoch  14
II  Early History of English Contract Law.--Continued 
The Innominate Contract  21
III  Early History of Consideration 
Genesis of the Conception of Consideration  29
IV  Early History of Consideration.--Continued 
The Nude Pact  36
Term 'Consideration' Established in Usage  39
Consideration in the Law of Conveyance  40
Suretyship and Guaranty  46
The Bailments 47
Contract of Hiring  48
The Mandate 48
VI  Origin and Nature of the Bilateral Contract 
Unilateral and Bilateral Modes of Engagement  52
First Recognition of the Bilateral Contract  55
Consideration in the Bilateral Contract  57
VII The Debt and the Assumpsit
The Early Assumptual Considerations  61
Implied Promise to Pay Debt  62
VIII  Consideration
Types of Consideration  67
Benefit to Promisor Not a Good Consideration  68 
Adequacy of the Consideration  69
Legality and Competency of Consideration  73
Forbearance to Prosecute Invalid Claim 76
IX  The Consideration and the Promise 
Rewards  81
Consideration Moved by Previous Request  83
Accord and Satisfaction 
Accord Must Be Executed  89
XI  Accord and Satisfaction.--Continued 
Part Payment of Debt  96 
XII  Scope of the Bilateral Contract 
Consensual Nature of Bilateral Contract  107
Promise of Performance of Existing Obligation  112 
Unilateral Promise Given for Performance of Existing Obligation Invalid  112
Mutual Promises in Furtherance of Performance of Existing Obligation Valid  116
XIII  Scope of Bilateral Contract.--Continued 
Novation  122
Novation by Change or Substitution of Contract  126
Composition with Creditors  130
XIV  Dependence of Mutual Promises 
Dependence of Mutual Covenants  134
Dependence of Mutual Promises  135
XV  Contract Law in Mansfield's Day 
The Written Promise  141
Moral Obligation as a Consideration  143
XVI  Legal Obligation as a Consideration 
Promise Supported by Legal Duty  147
The Implied Promise  149
XVII  Consideration and the Right of Action 
Right of Stranger to Sue on Contract Made for His Benefit  152
XVIII  Legality of Contract 
Illegality Fatal to All Forms of Contract  162
Contract in Restraint of Trade  164
Wagers  165
XIX  The Statute of Frauds 
Origin of the Statute  168
Purpose and Method of the Statute  169
The Statute Affects Only Simple Contracts  171
Dispenses with No Common-law Requirement  173
Interpretation of the Statute  174
Violation of Statute Renders Contract Voidable but Not Void  177
The Agreement or Memorandum  178
The Signing  181
XX The Statute of Frauds.--Continued 
Collateral Liability of Personal Representatives and of Guarantors and Sureties  183
Promise to Indemnify 186
Promises Supported by Consideration of Marriage 190
Contracts for Sale of Land  193
Contracts Not Performable Within One Year  193
Sales of Goods  194
Place of Statute of Frauds in Modern Contract Law  195
XXI  Duties in Nature of Debt 
Quasi-contracts and Implied Promises   199
Judgments, Customary and Statutory Duties  206
XXII  Duties in Nature of Debt.--Continued 
Benefit Conferred under Mistake of Fact  211
Duty to Compensate for Chattels or Service Wrongfully Appropriated 215
XXIII  Duties in Nature of Debt.--Continued 
  Benefits Conferred under Unenforceable Contract  220
Original Contract Materially Modified  221
Full Performance Prevented by Default of Defendant  222
Performance Prevented by Act of God or Rule of Law  223
Nonperformance Attributable to Default of Plaintiff   225
XXIV  Duties in Nature of Debt.--Continued 
Money Paid under Undue Pressure 228
Money Paid to Defendant's Use  232
XXV  Obligations in Nature of Assumpsit 
Various Types of Quasi-assumptual Obligations  235
The Equitable Estoppel  241

Part II. History and Theory of Law of Bailment 

XXVI  Early Law of Bailment 
History of Bailments Prior to End of Seventeenth Century  251
XXVII  Modern Law of Bailment 
The Case of Coggs v. Bernard  270
Classification of Bailments 271
The Deposit  274
Special Deposit with Bank  276
The Finder of Lost Goods  278
The Mandate  278
XXVIII  Modern Law of Bailment.--Continued 
The Commodate  281
Pledge 283
Letting for Hire  284
Procuring of Service  288
Bailment for Custody  289
XXIX  Modern Law of Bailment.--Continued 
The Innkeeper 294
The Bailment for Carriage  298
Exceptions to Liability of Common Carrier  300
Postmaster  306
XXX  Ownership and Possession 
Severance of Ownership and Possession Essential to Bailment  308
Special Property of Bailee  311
Right of Bailee as Against Stranger  314

Part III. History and Principles of Law of Bills and Notes 

XXXI  Bills and Notes 
General Observations  323
The Lex Mercatoria  324
XXXII  Bills and Notes.--Continued 
Early History of Bills of Exchange  335
XXXIII  Bills and Notes.--Continued 
Adaptation of Bills to Common-law Theory of Contract  343
Custom of Merchants Accepted as a Source of Legal Duty  347
Extension of the Custom to Transactions Other than Those Between Merchants  350
XXXIV  Bills and Notes.--Continued 
Early Bill of Exchange Not Transferable  354
The Bill of Exchange Becomes Transferable  359
XXXV  Bills and Notes.--Continued 
The Promissory Note  363
Inland Bill Comes to Be Within Custom of Merchants  369
Note Payable to Bearer   370
XXXVI  Bills and Notes.--Continued 
Marius on Bills of Exchange   373
Liability of Indorser  376
Rapid Development of the Law of Commercial Paper  378
XXXVII  Bills and Notes.--Continued 
Is the Bill of Exchange a Specialty? 381
Promissory Note Held Not to Be Within the Law Merchant  383
Statute of 3 & 4 Anne Makes Notes Negotiable  385
Effect of Statute on Notes Not Containing Words of Negotiability  386
Bills and Notes Are not Specialty Contracts  387
Note Given for Precedent Debt Treated as Conditional Payment  389
Recital of Value Received   391
XXXVIII  Bills and Notes.--Continued 
The Innocent Purchaser  393
The Currency of the Bill  395
The Promise to Accept  399
Virtual Acceptance  401
Bill Payable to Fictitious Party  403
Notice of Defects. Circumstances Giving Rise to Imputation of Fraud 404
XXXIX  Bills and Notes.--Continued 
Common-law Principles Ingrafted upon the Law Merchant  409
Warranties Incident to Transfer of Commercial Paper 411
Characteristics of Law Merchant and Method of Growth   416
XL  Transferable Securities 
Transferable Bonds, Coupons, and Debentures 419

Part IV. History and Theory of Law of Representation 

XLI  Representation 
General Observations  429
Principle of Representation Not Found in Roman Law   433
Representation in Old English Law  437
XLII  Representation.--Continued 
Responsibility for Commanded Acts  442
Immunity of Servant Acting at Instance of Master   444
Early Law of Representation in Contract   446
State of the Law of Representation from Sixteenth to Eighteenth Century   448
XLIII  Modern Law of Representation 
Representation in Relation of Master and Servant  456
Liability of Master for Negligent Act of Servant Done in Course of Employment  457
Fellow-servant Doctrine  470
XLIV  Representation in Modern Contract Law 
Right to Delegate  475
Undisclosed Principal  477
Power of Agent Acting within Scope of Apparent Authority  480
Ratification  487
Death  491
The Negotiable Instruments Law   495


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