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Registration and credit in seventeenth-century England

  • Seiichiro Ito (a1)


The English law reform movement produced numerous proposals for land registries during the Interregnum, but the idea of land registration took on economic connotations only after the Restoration, when controversy arose over the role of registration as a settled and reliable basis of credit. While the discourse of law reform was confined to the context of English law, the debate over whether and how land registries should be established extended to the economic field, and to international arenas in which England competed with, and sometimes imitated, her rivals in trade, particularly Holland. On one side of the debate, advocates of land registration insisted that registries would clarify the ownership of land, offer a firm foundation for credit, and consequently, improve English trade. On the other side, opponents of registration argued that such excessive openness of information would be hazardous to credit. For both advocates and opponents alike, the central issue was the role of registration in creating more reliable credit.

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