Frederic William Maitland - Trust and Corporation

By Getzler, Joshua | University of Queensland Law Journal, June 2016 | Go to article overview

Frederic William Maitland - Trust and Corporation


Getzler, Joshua, University of Queensland Law Journal


I

Equity is a difficult subject. 'Equity' here denotes the Chancery courts' system of control of managerial and vulnerable relationships that grew up alongside the common law from the mid-14th century, and which shapes our law still, from contract and family law through to property, commercial and company law. Frederic William Maitland's late, great, sprawling, and challenging essay 'Trust and Corporation' of 1904 sums up his vision of the role and importance of Equity, and is one of the summits of his oeuvre. (1) It partners Maitland's well-known book Equity, the final record of his lectures on the subject, delivered at Cambridge for the last time a few months before his death in 1906 at the early age of fifty-six. (2) Although 'Trust and Corporation' is less widely read by lawyers than those elegant lectures, it is the more powerful and original contribution, full of memorable and arresting ideas, many of which have entered the cultural bloodstream of the law. Thus we learn that 'if the Court of Chancery saved the Trust, the Trust saved the Court of Chancery'. (3) 'Dishonest people are often impecunious, insolvent people'. (4) 'The Court of Chancery ... converted the "trust fund" into an incorporeal thing, capable of being "invested" in different ways ... the "trust fund" can change its dress, but maintain its identity'. (5) 'A very high degree not only of honesty but of diligence has been required of trustees.... The honest man brought to ruin by the commission of a "technical breach of trust", brought to ruin at the suit of his friend's children, has in the past been only too common a figure of English life'. (6) 'To classify trusts is like classifying contracts'. (7) 'All that we English people mean by "religious liberty" has been intimately connected to the making of trusts'. (8) '... quasi is one of the few Latin words that English lawyers really love'. (9) 'Morally there is most personality where legally there is none'. (10) 'From saying that organisation is corporateness English lawyers were precluded by a long history'. (11) 'The Trust presses forward until it is imposing itself upon all wielders of political power, upon all the organs of the body politic'. (12) These are only samples: inspired observation and lapidary phrases come thick and fast across the text. As a literate, expressive lawyer Maitland had no peer in his day, save perhaps one contemporary across the ocean, namely Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Yet Maitland's achievement in 'Trust and Corporation' goes beyond eloquence, for in this work he explains much difficult jurisprudence in a radically short compass, and suggests how the institutions of private associational law fits into a wider scape of political and social evolution. The essay is perhaps more familiar today to political theorists than to lawyers and jurisprudents, but it should be read by all. This article attempts to provide some equipment for the new reader to help understand Maitland's world. We begin with the person of the author.

II

Frederic William Maitland, born May 1850, was the Downing Professor of the Laws of England at the University of Cambridge, serving in that post from 1888 until his death in December 1906. (13) His mother died when he was an infant, and his father and grandfather when he was a schoolboy. He highly valued his German governess, who gave him fluent command of the German language from a young age. Maitland boarded at Eton College, which he disliked, preferring mathematics and modern languages to the classical studies then forming the staple curriculum. Influenced by Henry Sidgwick and his peer group in the Cambridge Apostles, Maitland had worked on moral and political philosophy at Cambridge and had once hoped for a fellowship in philosophy at Oxford or Cambridge. An interest in the history of philosophy always hovered at the back of his mature empirical work. He commenced his academic career as Reader in Legal History at Cambridge in 1884, leaving behind a decade of work as a barrister specializing in conveyancing in London. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Frederic William Maitland - Trust and Corporation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.