This article argues that Lady Anne Clifford’s 1616–1619 diaries, which chronicle not only her lawsuit to inherit her family lands and titles but also her daily practices, form part of Clifford’s lifelong obsession with legal and extralegal ways of establishing herself as a landowner. While her records of frequent walking and praying “abroad,” or outdoors, and of her prodigious reading may seem distinct from her famous lawsuit, they possess a genealogical significance that signals her profound connection to her property. Clifford’s archives reveal her extensive knowledge of English common law, the legal system that backed her claims. Her enduring engagement with English common law influences the generic form of the diaries, with their repetitive documentation of her land-based practices. Just as common law garnered authority and meaning through its status as “custom,” Clifford’s diaries express the hope that her own customs would one day obtain the force of law. In this way, Clifford’s diaries evince a unique instance of what J. G. A. Pocock has called “the common-law mind.”


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pp. 521-546
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