Edward Hector Burn, 20 November 1922 – 6 February 2019
Edward Hector Burn of the Oxford Law Faculty, a beloved tutor at Christ Church and St Hugh’s, has died at the age of 97.
He served in the Second World War in his early twenties, landing at D-Day and participating in the Burma and Sumatra campaigns, and won citations for bravery. He had begun reading classics before the war, but returned to study common law at Wadham College. Going on to the BCL, he became a skilled Roman lawyer, seeking out the great German exile scholars then working at Oxford such as Fritz Schulz, and Fritz Pringsheim, who taught Edward together with other bright students around the kitchen table at his home in Chalfont Road.
Edward became a Student (i.e. Fellow) of Christ Church and soon emerged as one of the most formidable law tutors of post-war Oxford. He is remembered as a fine teacher with the gift of encouraging, challenging and befriending his students, leading many to their best achievements. Edward reformed admissions at Christ Church, chaired the Law Faculty with tact and firmness, and together with Peter Carter engineered a leap in the standards of scholarship demanded of law students in Mods and Finals, re-establishing Oxford as an elite law school rivalling any in the common law world. He was the most gifted professor of the English law of property of the past half-century. His writings, notably his great textbook Cheshire and Burn’s Modern Law of Real Property, made the difficult property doctrines of law and equity understandable, useful, and even beautiful. His writings remain deeply influential in the work of the courts and the legal profession to this day, but his deeper influence lies in the mark he left on all who learnt with him and taught with him. Ten years of tutoring at St Hugh’s after his formal retirement left an indelible mark on our students and the life of the law at our college. We are grateful for all that he did. Our condolences go to his widow Marilyn Kennedy-McGregor.