Friday, November 21, 2014

Kearley on an Obscure and Important American Legal Antiquarian

Timothy G. Kearley, University of Wyoming College of Law, has posted The Enigma of Samuel Parsons Scott, which appears in Roman Legal Tradition 10 (2014): 1-37.  Here is the abstract:    
S. P. Scott (credit)
Samuel Parsons Scott (1846-1929) single-handedly translated into English the Corpus Juris Civilis, the Visigothic Code, and the Siete Partidas. The latter was very well received, and not long ago was reprinted in a new edition; the first mentioned was criticized strongly but often has been used because, until recently, it contained the only published English translation of Justinian’s Code. However, almost nothing has been known about Scott, as he was an independent scholar who lived and worked in the small American town of Hillsboro, Ohio. This article uses information obtained from Hillsboro newspapers, local histories, probate court records, and the catalog of Scott’s personal library, to describe his life and the details of his work. It proposes an explanation for why he went from being a successful small-town business man, who wrote about history and his travels as an avocation, to a being a recluse who devoted his last years to translating ancient laws. The article’s analysis of Scott and his library also suggests some possible explanations for the flaws in his translation of the Justinianic Corpus.