Arthur Duck

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Arthur Duck, LL.D., (1580 – 16 December 1648) was an English lawyer and Member of Parliament.


Born at Heavitree in Devon in 1580, the younger son of Richard Duck of Heavitree, by his wife, Joanna, and younger brother of Nicholas Duck, he was educated at Exeter College (B.A., 1599) and Hart Hall, Oxford (M.A., 1602), and elected a fellow of All Souls in 1604. In 1612 he was made a Doctor of Laws (LL.D.), and admitted as an Advocate of Doctor's Commons in 1614. As a jurist he was a pupil of John Budden.[1]

He was Member of Parliament for Minehead in the Parliament of 1624–5,[2] and again in the Short Parliament of 1640.[3]

Duck was associated with the future Archbishop Laud for some years – an opinion of his that a statute drafted by Laud for Wadham College, Oxford, was not ultra vires is mentioned in the Calendar of State Papers in 1625–6, and he became Chancellor of the Diocese of London at about the time Laud was translated to the bishopric in 1628; by 1633 he is recorded as pleading a case for Laud before the King and Council on appeal from the Dean of Arches, and in the same year he was placed on the Ecclesiastical Commission. He subsequently also became Chancellor of Bath and Wells in 1635, and held numerous other ecclesiastical and administrative posts.

In 1641 Duck contested the appointment of Sir William Meyrick as judge of the prerogative court of Canterbury, unsuccessfully.[4] He was appointed a Master of Requests by the king at Oxford in 1643 [5] and Master in Chancery in 1645. In 1648, the King, then a prisoner of Parliament, requested that he should be allowed Duck's help in conducting the negotiations that were then ongoing to settle the Civil War, though it is not known if this was eventually permitted.

The Dictionary of National Biography records that Duck died in Chelsea in December 1648, and was buried at Chiswick in May 1649. However, Foss lists him as still a Master of Chancery from 1649 to 1650.


Duck wrote:[6]

  • Vita Henrici Chichele archiepiscopi Cantuariensis sub regibus Henrico V et VI, Oxford, 1617. A life of Henry Chichele, it was reprinted, ed. William Bates, in Vitæ Selectorum aliquot Virorum, London, 1681, and was translated anonymously London, 1699. It used an earlier life by Roger Hovenden.[7]
  • De Usu et Authoritate Juris Civilis Romanorum, London, 1653 (assisted by Gerard Langbaine the Elder). It was translated in part by John Beaver in 1724 as On the Use and Authority of the Civil Law in the Kingdom of England and bound in the same volume with the translation of Claude Joseph de Ferrière's History of the Roman Law, London. It gives detailed information on the reception of Roman law in different European countries.[8]

The Chichele biography was anti-papalist and negative about the foundations of canon law. The De Usu took a line on the "ancient constitution" that was rather hostile to royal authority.[9] It raised the general historical question of how law had evolved differently in different states. Pietro Giannone considered this point in relation to the Kingdom of Naples and Kingdom of Sicily.[10]


He was married at Wells by Bishop Lake to Margaret, daughter of Henry Southworth, merchant, of London & Wells; he left two daughters:

  • Martha, who married (1) William Duck, (2) Nicholas Duck (1630–1667), of Mount Radford, her first cousin once removed, and (3) Sir Thomas Carew, 1st Baronet, of Haccombe;
  • Mary, who married William Harbord, of Grafton Park, co. Northampton.



  1. ^  "Zouche, Richard". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  2. ^ Willis, p. 193; Google Books.
  3. ^ Willis, p. 235; Google Books.
  4. ^ Handley, Stuart. "Meyrick, William". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/18645.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. ^ "Masters of Requests". Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  6. ^  "Duck, Arthur". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  7. ^ Dictionary of National Biography, Hovenden or Hoveden, Robert (1544–1614), warden of All Souls' College, Oxford, by C. T. Martin. Published 1891.
  8. ^ Peter Stein, Roman Law in European History (1999), p. 104; Google Books.
  9. ^ Daniel R. Coquillette, The Civilian Writers of Doctors' Commons, London: three centuries of juristic innovation in comparative, commercial, and international law (1988), p. 162; Google Books.
  10. ^ J. G. A. Pocock, Barbarism and Religion vol. II (1999), p. 66.
Parliament of England
Preceded by
Francis Pearce
Sir Robert Lloyd
Member of Parliament for Minehead
With: Sir Arthur Lake
Succeeded by
Francis Luttrell
Charles Pyne
Preceded by
Sir Francis Wyndham
Alexander Popham
Member of Parliament for Minehead
With: Sir Francis Wyndham
Succeeded by
Alexander Luttrell
Sir Francis Popham

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Duck, Arthur". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.