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In the Beginning ...

John Park

Title page of book An introductory lecture delivered at King's College, London, November 1 1831John James Park An introductory lecture delivered at King’s College, London (1831)John James Park (1795-1833), the first Professor of English Law and Jurisprudence at King's College London, was the son of Thomas Park, a noted antiquarian, engraver and an expert on early English poetry.

Park was educated at home and shared his father's interest in antiquarianism, publishing a well-received volume on the history of Hampstead at the age of 16. Having decided upon law as a career, he was a student at Lincoln's Inn, at one time studying conveyancing under the rising legal star of Richard Preston. He was called to the Bar in 1822.

Park soon gained a formidable reputation as a critic of legal codification as exemplified by the work of James Humphreys and Jeremy Bentham, and at a time of political reform when such ideas had great currency.

Park was an early follower of the French Posivitist and 'father of sociology', Auguste Comte, who was writing in France during the 1820s. He sought to counter the arguments of Bentham and expose the 'fallacy of many of the doctrines of English Radicalism' by examining the constitution in an historical and Posivitist context.

Park was appointed Professor of English Law and Jurisprudence at King's in 1831, possibly owing to the patronage of Lord Chancellor Eldon.  Despite his youth, he corresponded with many leading jurists, particularly in the United States and France.

He proceeded to deliver a programme of thirteen lectures at King's College on English property law and the constitution in which he developed his ideas further. Four of these, published in 1832 as The dogmas of the constitution, cemented his posthumous reputation as the father of modern constitutional law.

Park was considered rather a verbose speaker and suffered from a stammer and poor health, leading to his untimely death in 1833.

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