University of Dundee

05/22/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 05/22/2019 10:16

Law in Dundee history celebrated in new book

Published OnWed 22 May 2019by Grant Hill

Pioneering female academics and Polish 'soldier students' are among those who feature in a new book celebrating the teaching of Law in Dundee.

'Dundee Law 1865-1967: The Development of a Law School in a Time of Change' is written by Robin M White, a former Senior Lecturer in Law and currently an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Dundee. The book is published by the Abertay Historical Society, who will be launching it at a special event at the University's Scrymgeour Building on Friday 24 May.

Dundee Law begins with the earliest recorded classes in the 1860s before looking at the development of formal teaching with the founding of University College Dundee in the 1880s and its subsequent affiliation to the University of St Andrews. It explores the various people instrumental in initiating and delivering law teaching as well as details on the students, and how numbers and gender balance changed up to the point when Dundee became an independent university in 1967.

'I hope the book will appeal not just to those interested in the history of the Universities of Dundee and St Andrews, but also to local historians and to legal historians generally,' said Robin. 'In researching this book I came across many fascinating characters, incidents and tales that tell the rich history of Law teaching in Dundee.'

As Robin outlines in the book, the first recorded law lectures in Dundee took place in 1867 and were driven by law apprentices and clerks who sought access to better professional training. They formed a Law Clerks and Apprentices Society with the local Sheriff (then Sheriff Heriot) as Honorary President. One of the most important people involved in those early days was Sir Thomas Thornton, solicitor and Town Clerk, who financed some of the early lecture series.

Among the notable developments to take place over the next century was the appointment in 1939 of Christian Bisset, later Mrs Tudhope, as a lecturer in Evidence and Procedure, making her the first female law academic in Scotland, and possibly the UK.

Christian's students included members of the Polish Armed Forces who escaped their home country after the German and Russian invasions in 1939 and were formed into military units in or near Dundee. By arrangement, some of those who had been attending university in Poland were allowed to continue their studies and six graduated from the 'Polish Law School' in Dundee - Jozef Bieszczad, Ryszard Wrobel, Edgar Roll, Wladyslaw Chlebowski, Bronislaw Piotrowski, and Czeslaw Sercukzewski.

Law is now currently taught at Dundee as a discipline within the University's School of Social Sciences and is ranked within the UK's top 10 in all major league tables.

Prominent Dundee Law graduates include several Scottish judges, including Lord Turnbull, Lord Malcolm, Lord Burns, Lord Summers, the late Lord Jones and, until her recent retiral, Lady Clark. Tim Eicke, the current UK Judge in the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg, and Her Honour Judge Anuja Dhir, a judge at the Old Bailey are also Dundee alumni.

The launch of 'Dundee Law 1865-1967: The Development of a Law School in a Time of Change' takes place at 6.30pm on Friday 24 May at the Scrymgeour Building. The author will discuss the book while short talks will be given by prestigious guest speakers, including Lady Clark.

Copies of the book, priced £10, will be available for purchase at the event. Further information is available by contacting Matthew Jarron on 01382 384310 or by emailing [email protected].

For media enquiries contact:
Grant Hill
Press Officer
University of Dundee
Nethergate, Dundee, DD1 4HN
Tel: +44 (0)1382 384768
Mobile: 07854 953277
Email: [email protected]